Showing posts with label Predictions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Predictions. Show all posts

Monday, January 17, 2022

2022 Predictions


The following media comprises interviews and other content related to 2022 industry predictions. 

Views expressed are those of the presenting individuals and companies and may not necessarily represent views of Converge! Network Digest or AvidThink.










Sunday, January 16, 2022

2022 Predictions from Thought Leaders

The following media comprises interviews and other content related to 2022 industry predictions. 

Views expressed are those of the presenting individuals and companies and may not necessarily represent views of Converge! Network Digest or AvidThink.

























Thursday, January 13, 2022

2022 Predictions from Thought Leaders

The following media comprises interviews and other content related to 2022 industry predictions. 

Views expressed are those of the presenting individuals and companies and may not necessarily represent views of Converge! Network Digest or AvidThink.













Wednesday, January 12, 2022

2022 Predictions from Thought Leaders

The following media comprises interviews and other content related to 2022 industry predictions. Views expressed are those of the presenting individuals and companies and may not necessarily represent views of Converge! Network Digest or AvidThink.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2022 Predictions from Thought Leaders

AT&T Cybersecurity  

Top 5 Cybersecurity Trends this Year

Bindu Sundaresan, Director at AT&T Cybersecurity





Microsoft Azure

Cloud-driven Economic Disruption for Services

Sanjay Mewada, Worldwide Marketing Leader at Microsoft Azure






Telia Carrier

Network Sophistication and More Bandwidth  

Mattias Fridström, Vice President & Chief Evangelist at Telia Carrier






Telstra

Next-gen Satellites, Hybrid Work, Emerging Markets Infrastructure

Noah Drake, Vice President of Customer Solutions, Americas at Telstra

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Network predictions 2021: Cisco's Scott Harrell

 by Scott Harrell, SVP and GM, Intent-Based Networking Group at Cisco

Connected Workplaces for the Return to Work

In 2021, workers will increasingly return to the workplace, but it will be very different for everyone, depending on city, region or country policies, among other factors. For those workers who will return to the office full time, new networking standards, procedures, and space reconfiguration will need to be in place to create a safe work environment. 

Reconfiguring the workplace will be essential to adapt to new health safeguards and new working styles. Monitoring space usage and density can help limit the number of people inside the office and adhere to good safety practices while maximizing in-person productivity and regaining office camaraderie. 

In 2021 and beyond, the office will need to be utilized for moments that matter. It’s likely that video conferencing will replace in-person, group conference room meetings. To ensure higher efficiency, video to every device and desktop, remote or in person, will require rethinking Wi-Fi coverage and capacity. 

Next Gen Wireless Will Enable Business Processes to be Reinvented 

5G and Wi-Fi 6 are being deployed across the globe. History has shown every new generation of wireless drives new use cases and rapid innovation. The combination of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will provide fast, low-latency connections anywhere, with no need for manual network selection or authentication. This foundation becomes an accelerant for the deployment of other next generation technologies and will quicken disruptions across industries. 

In 2020, IT teams proved they can move amazingly fast as they restructured their infrastructure to facilitate moving workers to a home office. In 2021, they will look to apply the same speed to deploy next generation wirelessly ubiquitously across their offices. Video communications will be a primary driver of Wi-Fi 6 deployments as organizations look to enable video to every desktop to mimic the rich video-powered meeting style employees have gotten used to from home. Additionally, the increased speed, capacity, security, and availability enabled by 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will create a richer platform for innovation, and we’ll see entirely new business models start to develop by leveraging these capabilities.

Smart Buildings to Improve Energy Efficiency and Safety 

In the coming years, the U.S. – along with other world governments – will demand and promote smarter, safer, and more energy-efficient buildings for both new construction and existing structures. Next year, we expect companies to add more sensors and IoT devices to current networks to not only improve energy efficiency and safety within buildings, but to provide more connectivity. 

With the addition of new devices and sensors comes increased Wi-Fi congestion and interference within the smart building systems. The availability of more spectrum with Wi-Fi 6e will help IT adapt to the increases in device density and streaming applications, with private 5G filling in the spaces where Wi-Fi is impractical. 

Unmanaged Devices Will Increasingly Be Used for Cyberattacks

In 2020, as many as 20.4 billion IoT devices came online. As IoT devices continue to grow, we can expect that they will increasingly be used for cyberattacks. In 2019 alone, the number of cyberattacks on IoT devices surged by more than 300%.

Industrial IoT and OT systems need additional protection to keep critical infrastructure running even while under attack. To prevent attacks from spreading, industries will use end-point analytics to identify IoT and other endpoints and add them to security groups using intelligent segmentation to automatically quarantine devices when unusual behavior is detected.

Automated and Secure Interconnections

While new applications will be primarily built as cloud-native, the business case often does not justify re-platforming existing applications. Therefore, a hybrid environment will exist for the foreseeable future. Network and data center automation will be key in 2021 as businesses need to provision infrastructure and run a continuous development pipeline to orchestrate multiple public cloud and hybrid environments. Infrastructure teams want to retain control over the IT environment and choose which APIs they expose to development teams. The goal in 2021 will be to build an automated and secure interconnect between on-premises and cloud data centers for ease of provisioning and monitoring at scale in a hybrid environment.

Accelerating Day2 Operations

As more IoT devices, cloud services, hybrid workstyles, and personal devices become the norm in the workplace, IT must be able to manage the increasing complexity even as expectations for uptime and availability grow in parallel. Therefore, in 2021 we can expect the need for advanced network analytics will continue to accelerate but also begin to be utilized by more and more teams within IT. AIOps teams will drive the rapid rise in the utilization of these tools within and across NetOps, SecOps, and DevOps teams. These tools will enable the effective upskilling of first and second-line support, empower end users with increased visibility and self-remediation capabilities, and provide disparate teams with shared perspectives and common sources of truth. 

Common sources of truth can be exceptionally powerful. To enable this, sharing data and linking automation workflows across systems will become increasingly common. This will enable rapid resolution of issues across teams. The ability to link the automation layer with the analytics layer will enable IT to begin to move increasingly in machine time versus human time. 

Security has been and will continue to be a key driver for the transition to machine time. Detected threats need to be acted on rapidly and pervasively across the infrastructure. Since attackers are already leveraging large scale automation to attack businesses, IT must increasingly do the same in their response, bridging detection via SecOps with automation via NetOps to counteract the range of constantly evolving threats. For example, linking identity services and management resources with security detection tools creates dynamic access control and segmentation policies that limit fast-spreading malware as the systems detect and respond in real time — all without human intervention. 

These changes will of course benefit the line of business, the workforce, and customers. But they will also provide welcome help to the overstretched and under-appreciated professionals staffing help desks and maintaining critical infrastructure across the world.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Nework Predictions 2021: TelcoDR's Danielle Royston

 by Danielle Royston, Founder, TelcoDR

A telco will figure out how to really use the public cloud and save 50% on its IT costs – or more

How will it happen? It'll move a ton of software to the cloud and prove: 1) it works; 2) it’ll save a ton of money (the company that embraces the software of the public cloud will see a 50% savings on IT costs); 3) life is sweet! (And way sweeter than it ever was before. I’m talking about taking the oldest, suckiest, super unsexy legacy applications and refactoring them for 90% savings.)

Who’ll be the bold telco? Definitely not a company in the US. Sorry America. It’ll likely be based in Asia, which has moved on from dumb private cloud, and we’ve already seen examples of successful moves to public cloud in this region (take a bow, M1). 

In 2021 we might be going back to 1981-style boldness, but it’ll be a huge move forward for modernizing the telco industry. A bold telco will successfully transition to the public cloud and show everyone else how it’s done. Note to everyone else: be prepared, this change will require all hands on deck.

Telcos will take the wrong approach – and fail

Alongside public cloud success, we’ll also witness public cloud failure in 2021. Without a proper understanding of the cloud ecosystem – and what ‘cloud native’ means: see my 2020 round-up above – telcos will foot some spectacular fuck-ups. On that note: if you want to avoid being that telco, look for my blog in January where I’ll clarify cloud language and explain how each part of the telco business can benefit.

Back to those failures though. It’s common sense to move to the public cloud, but there are still so many misconceptions that telcos will get bound in. It’s not just about infrastructure and IT, for instance. It requires a top-down, organization-wide cultural change. It requires clear communication.

Wrong moves will result in failure. Or, if not complete failure, then a load of back-tracking, additional costs and tails between legs. No one wants to hear ‘I told you so.’ Bank of America probably didn’t. For almost a decade, the institution was adamant that ignoring public cloud and obsessing about its vanity project (aka, building its own private cloud) was the way to go. It wasn’t. In 2019, Brian Moynihan, BofA chairman of the board and CEO, admitted that although it had been pursuing private cloud – and spending on private cloud – third-party cloud providers are 25-30% "cheaper.” It then teamed with IBM to develop a public-cloud computing service for banks.

There’s also the cautionary tale of Verizon, a company that thought it was a great idea to spend $1.4 billion on data center provider Terremark. It later realized it couldn’t compete with the might of the hyperscalers and dumped the business on Equinix.

People will fall for IBM’s #fakecloud

You thought the claws of Oracle were bad? In 2021, you’ll see it’s IBM that has the real talons.

In November IBM launched its cloud-for-telco play. Unfortunately for telco – and bad luck for buyers – Big Blue launched a big crock of shit. This is not cloud. It was fake news. It’s #fakecloud. In 2021 we’ll see the results from the poor suckers who’ve invested and we’ll hopefully see a greater realization that a hybrid strategy and a half-assed move to the cloud will never work.

At launch, IBM tried to persuade telco to keep things on-premise. If you do move to the BFCs, then IBM can manage it all for you. What they didn’t mention was that this would happen at a cost, and it’d be a massive waste of time. Telcos that fell for this trap last year will be adding five more years to their public cloud journey, by which time they’ll be way behind competitors that saved time and money, and whose customers love the service they offer. 

Be wary of IBM, my telco children. Do not fall for the trap!

OpenRAN will explode

The tail end of 2020 saw OpenRAN start to bubble rapidly to the surface of telco conversations. In 2021, it’s gonna explode. Vendors: be afraid, be very afraid. Ericsson’s revenue will slip even further through its fingers – something it already admitted last year, when CEO Börje Ekholm said he expected OpenRAN market developments to “impact revenues” from 2023 onwards. 

Other vendors will hemorrhage revenue as telcos realize that there is (finally!) an alternative to overpriced infrastructure and vendor lock-in. They’ll get choice, at last, picking and choosing best-of-breed elements from whomever the hell they want! More features will be driven into software. Networks will be easier and cheaper to maintain, easier and cheaper to upgrade. Spend on RAN will go from historic levels of around 90% of total spend to 50XX%. It might not be next year, but the development and industry excitement around disaggregated network components will certainly define the trajectory of telcos’ decision making next year.

Pioneers like Rakuten will gain column inches and market share next year. It’s no wonder: Rakuten claims operators can reduce capex CAPEX by 40% with its telco-in-a-box network. Vodafone has also been staking its claim in the OpenRAN space: last November it announced it would be deploying OpenRAN technology at 2,600 mobile sites across Wales and the South West of England.

Experimentation is the name of the game here. There might be failures along the way, but telcos will be less afraid of dipping their toe in the OpenRAN water. This will gear them up for taking a plunge in the public cloud ocean down the line.

There’ll always be another G

You can’t move nowadays without being bombarded with something about a ‘G.’ Clearly people believe the hype – 5G networks will cover an estimated one billion people by the end of the year, attracting 220 million subscriptions, according to Ericsson. And it’s not all about faster speeds and greater capacity … research suggests 5G is 90% more energy efficient than legacy mobile infrastructure.

Telcos are set to ramp-up 5G investment in 2021, according to Fitch Ratings, which has warned there will be increased pressure on credit metrics for most worldwide. Free cash flow, it says, will be constrained over the next three years. But if telcos believe they can monetize all 5G capex by simply boosting customer experience, that’s just not possible. Instead, they should focus on bringing new forms of life into reality with the help of 5G – I’m thinking best-in-class remote work, e-learning and virtual services. 

That capex pressure will only increase with demands for more connections, higher speeds, greater capacity. Telcos simply can’t afford NOT to move to the public cloud, helping them to further enrich their offerings, as well as cut time and costs with reduced latency. Only the foolish would add to that capex pressure by building their own cloud – remove that headache by using the BFCs!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Network predictions 2021: Ciena's Steve Alexander

by Steve Alexander, CTO, Ciena

2021 will take investment to the edge

5G networks are primed to deliver faster web browsing and video streaming with reduced latency, both very appealing for consumers. But 5G can do so much more once networks have matured. Advanced 5G services like rich AR and VR, cloud gaming, telemedicine, and Industry 4.0 (the connected manufacturing revolution), all require highly reliable networks that can deliver low latency as well as higher bandwidth – but also high levels of intelligence.

For these services to take off, networks must continue to get faster, closer and smarter, utilizing automation intelligence and software to deliver on the hype of these exciting services. A part of building faster, closer and smarter networks is to build out the edge, where we need up to five times more data centres than are available today.

There is already heavy investment in building out edge data center sites to bring the cloud closer to users and this investment will continue at pace in 2021. The carriers know they need to continue to focus on building out their edge infrastructure in these smaller data center sites, leveraging edge cloud capabilities which will mean that services can be processed closer to users, improving user experience and delivering on the bold promises of 5G.

Hitting new network requirements will become automatic

Carriers know the demands we are placing on networks show no signs of slowing as our lives become more digital and distributed. That means network rollout will continue at pace, but networks must now be built to adapt on their own. Carriers have already taken steps to make this happen, but in 2021, we will start to see even more use of software and analytics to improve the way optical networks function.

Advanced software capabilities will redefine how network providers engineer, operate and monetize their optical networks. These software solutions were originally focused on extracting more value from existing network assets. In 2021 will see these software solutions play a key role in new network builds, giving CSPs the ability to fine-tune, control and dynamically adjust optical connectivity and capacity.

Software will also give greater visibility into the health of the network via real-time link performance metrics and increased, end-to-end photonic layer automation. By utilizing the latest advanced software solutions, providers can monitor and mine all available network assets to be able to instantly respond to new and unexpected bandwidth demands and allocate capacity across any path in real time – a function which will become increasingly important year-on-year.

Increasing Digital Inclusion will be key to continued remote working

This year has demonstrated how important connectivity is for people to stay in touch, shop and work remotely to keep our economy moving.  It has also proven crucial to the continued education of students. There is a growing desire to maintain this flexibility even once Covid restrictions are lifted, but this is only possible if you have the connectivity and capacity.

In 2021, we’ll see rural connectivity and digital inclusion initiatives move higher up the political agenda, and solutions like low-orbit satellite connectivity will come to greater prominence. The solution that maximizes ultimate capacity is still scaling fiber based broadband, but we know this can be a challenge in rural areas, so will require a nudge from policy makers to get things moving.

If countries want to stay at the forefront of the digital economy, they must break down the barriers to rural connectivity and invest in fixing the last-mile problem. They must also continue supporting digital inclusion programmes that grant students access to technology and tools. Incentives and initiatives from the government, and an ongoing review to ensure that networks are using the most effective equipment suppliers, are certainly ways to help.

Enhanced reality will step forward as the first killer use case for 5G 

Almost as soon as talk of 5G networks first started, so too did questions about what the killer app for the new standard will be. 2021 might not be the year we get the definitive answer to that question, but it will be the year in which enhanced reality (AR and VR) applications take a step forward. However, it may not be consumer-centric services that light the path, but instead, enterprise use cases could lead the way. 

I think it’s safe to say that all of us have grown weary of online team meetings this year, and ‘zoom fatigue’ has become a very real thing. Next year I predict we will see more instances of AR and VR being used as collaboration tools, helping remote teams regain some of the ‘live’ element of working together. These services will initially need to run over combinations of home broadband, in building Wi-Fi, 4G and 5G networks.  They will ultimately open the door to more commercial AR and VR services over 5G networks and WiFi 6 further down the road. The quality of those networks will take these enhanced reality applications beyond a fun, short-term gimmick into being a viable and valuable service offering.

WebScalers and telcos expand their collaborations to improve our cloud experience

One of the biggest trends of 2020 has been the partnerships that have been forged between telecoms carriers and some of the the hyperscalers. There’s no doubt this will continue and grow well beyond 2021, but as networks become increasingly more software centric there is an opportunity to improve the delivery of new services and applications to the users.

From the perspective of a WebScale operator, service provider networks often appear to be a patchwork quilt of various vendors and technologies. The suite of Internet protocols allows this complexity to be abstracted up to a set of globally uniform IP addresses and this has served us fantastically well. At the same time, service provider networks look largely opaque to the cloud and consequently it is hard to guarantee a user the cloud experience that is desired. To deliver next generation service more collaboration between cloud and network is required.  Making the network adaptive through the use of intelligent software allow coordination between service provider networks and the cloud and will enable a generation of AR and VR-based immersive services and applications.

Steve Alexander is Ciena’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. He has held a number of positions since joining the Company in 1994, including General Manager of Ciena's Transport & Switching and Data Networking business units, Vice President of Transport Products and Director of Lightwave Systems.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

2021 Foresight: Predictions for Service Providers

by Sally Bament, VP of Cloud & Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

COVID’s Impact

COVID aims the spotlight on preparing networks for the unknown, AI/ML will be big focus

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted our world from physical to virtual literally overnight, placing enormous responsibility on service providers to deliver seamless real-time and near real-time experiences at peak traffic levels. Traffic patterns are shifting from mobility towards Wi-Fi and broadband networks, and as work continues to shift to the home, the lines between consumers and enterprise users continue to blur. This implies there will be long-term changes in how service providers architect and manage their networks particularly for enterprise customers, which by extension means to the home. Next year, we will see more focus on ensuring networks are ready for the “unknowns.” We will see accelerated investments in open, agile network architectures built on cloud principles, elastic on-demand capacities, and automation and security for an assured service experience. And with a heightened focus on service experience, we can expect automation, service assurance, AI/ML, and orchestration technologies to take on an even more significant role in service provider network operations, guaranteeing service quality and simplifying operations as networks get bigger, more dynamic and more complex.

COVID accelerates the value of the edge

Networks have never been more critical than they are right now. Business, education, telemedicine, social, all have moved from engaging in person to engaging virtually and multi-participant interactive video calls have become fundamental to our daily lives. We have seen a massive consumption of streaming media (largely video based), and similarly an all-time high in online gaming, each driving CDN growth. Service providers have responded fast to manage the surge in traffic while avoiding lagging, downgraded quality, and slower speeds. Next year, we’ll see service providers double down on investments in edge cloud, moving applications and data closer to users and connected devices to enhance the user and application experience, support new emerging low-latency applications, and make more efficient use of network transit capacity.

COVID drives network security

While security has often taken a back seat to make way for faster network speeds, the pandemic has proven that bad actors will take advantage of crises for their own gain. Next year, we’ll see service providers take a holistic, end-to-end security approach that combines network, application and end-user security to deliver a secure and assured service experience. This is especially important as we’re approaching a second wave of lockdowns and working from home becomes the new normal – which presents an enticing attack surface to attackers. In 2021, we’ll see companies investing more in Enterprise-at-Home solutions with security at the forefront, ensuring that all endpoints in the networks are secure, wherever they are.

5G

5G hype fades as monetization opportunities skyrocket

Despite the pandemic shifting operational priorities, causing some 5G roll outs to slow down, service providers have still been heavily investing in and deploying 5G networks. With over 100 commercial networks launched across the globe, and many more are expected in 2021, 5G is now real, bringing new monetization opportunities for operators. With massive speeds, huge connection densities and ultra-low-latency experiences, we expect to see progress in new consumer applications (e.g. gaming, AR/VR/MR), 5G for industry verticals, consumer broadband with content bundling, enterprise broadband and cloud-managed services, and fixed wireless access services in 2021.

400G

400G deployments ramp up beyond the cloud data center

As commercial solutions become more viable to support the relentless growth in bandwidth demand, we will continue to see momentum build for 400G in 2021. While large cloud providers are driving the first wave in the data center and the wide area network, expect to see 400G ramp up in service provider networks in 2021, as well as across data center interconnect, core, peering, and CDN gateway use cases, among others. We will see large-scale rollouts of 400G in the WAN, especially in the second-half of the year, driven by the availability of lower-cost optics, lower operating expense potential with fewer ports to manage, and pay-as-you-go pricing models that will allow operators to smoothly navigate the upgrades. Looking beyond 2021, we will see 400G appear in metro aggregation nodes as 5G buildouts drive even more traffic and network densification.

Open RAN

Open Architectures remain a top theme, Open RAN is here to stay

The service provider industry’s drive towards Open Architectures will continue to gain momentum in all areas from Open Access (including Open RAN, Open OLT), Open Broadband, Open IP/Optical and Open Core. Open RAN is no longer a question of IF, but WHEN. We will see accelerated momentum in Open RAN globally with RFPs, trials and early deployments as many operators commit to democratize their radio access domain primarily to drive vendor diversity and best-of-breed innovation. While commercial widescale deployments of Open RAN are a few years out, we will see a strengthened Open RAN ecosystem, greater technology maturity and new kinds of partnerships that will fundamentally change how radio networks will be deployed, managed and leveraged for value creation in the future.



The Role Operators can play at the Edge Over 50 billion devices are expected to come online next year, driving the need for edge-located control points to manage these devices in real-time and near real-time. For service providers, this makes edge compute a critical and strategic area of focus. Sally Bament, VP of Marketing at Juniper Networks, discusses the role operators can play in the edge value chain.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2019 Network Predictions - The campus becomes hot again

Michael Bushong,  Juniper Networks’ VP of Enterprise and Cloud Marketing 

Network automation will hit the curve in the proverbial hockey stick.

Despite years of talking about automation, the vast majority of enterprise operations are still manual, CLI-driven activities. In 2019, adoption will shift from linear to something more aggressive.

This will be driven in part by a general need to automate the network to keep pace with the dynamic application environment that already exists in many enterprises. But the broader DevOps efforts, especially in the cloud arena, will demonstrate what operations could look like outside of the application teams. And enterprises will begin their transformation.

Notably, this means that the automation that emerges will not be the automation that has been talked about for years. Where the last decade has been about removing keystrokes in mundane tasks, the real path forward for network automation will more closely track with the Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) movement. Expect to see the rise of NRE in enterprises (a trend that has already started in the major cloud and service provider properties).

Open source will be more than an alternative business model.

As open source continues to climb in importance in the IT supply chain, enterprises will begin to develop stronger open source policies. This will include everything from procurement practices (which partners will be involved and how will support be handled?) to supply chain (how do you secure the supply chain if no one is inspecting?).

Enterprises outside of the major open source and cloud players will begin to treat open source as just another route to market, implementing appropriate controls, checks, and balances to ensure that products are robust, support is available, and security is more than a hope.

SD-WAN will begin to yield to SD-Enterprise.

It’s not that SD-WAN will become less important in 2019, but as the industry starts applying the principles of SD-WAN more broadly, SD-WAN will start its evolution to SD-Enterprise. Cloud management and intelligent routing across the WAN can be transformative for more than the subset of products currently in market. As campus moves this direction, it seems inevitable that the concept will broaden.

Campus becomes hot again

A few years ago, data center was all the rage. More recently, SD-WAN has revitalized the branch. In 2019, expect campus networking to be in vogue again. Driven by some of the same technologies (SDN, SD-WAN, intent-based networking, and so on), the campus will go through a similar transformation. Vendors have retooled their portfolios in preparation, and most market forecasts showed campus shifting from slow decline to slight growth this year. That trend should continue.

Notably, the embrace of software as the primary vehicle for delivering value also means that the days of refresh cycles being on the order of 5-to-7 years will likely come to an end as well. This should stoke competition in a market that, frankly, has looked more like a monopoly than a vibrant ecosystem at times over the last decade. Times, they are a-changin’.

Ecosystems will replace vertical suppliers

For decades, the networking space has been dominated by large, vertically-integrated stacks. With the rise of cloud and multicloud forcing multi-vendor integration from an operations perspective, it would seem that the vertical approach to the market will begin to give way to an ecosystem strategy.

Importantly, that ecosystem will bring suppliers together that span all of compute, storage, networking, and even applications. Where the past was led by a well-known set of incumbents, suppliers like Nutanix with their hybrid and multicloud solutions and RedHat (now IBM) with their orchestration solutions will take on more prominent roles. This will chip away at the incumbent routes to market, which will begin a one-way move towards a more diverse solutions environment.


2019 Network Predictions - 5G just can’t ‘contain’ itself

by John English, Director of Marketing, Service Provider Solutions, NETSCOUT

5G just can’t ‘contain’ itself 

In 2019 as virtualized network architectures are rapidly adopted to support 5G we expect to see containers emerge as the de-facto platform to run new applications and workloads

The excitement around 5G is building as we hear more news about network deployments, trials and handsets. However, one 5G-related issue that hasn’t yet been crystallized is what form 5G software and innovations will take, and how these new services and applications will be deployed into the network. Unlike 4G/LTE network infrastructure, the architectures that support 5G are virtualized and cloud-based, so the smart money is on application developers, mobile operators and equipment vendors using microservices, and in particular containers, to drive 5G evolution.

It makes sense to use containers to support 5G as they will provide operators with a flexible and easier to use platform to build, test and deploy applications that is now also becoming more secure. This is vital for the development of 5G services at a time when the use cases for 5G are still being defined. Operators will need to be in a position to spin up services as and when needed to support different use cases, by using containers it will be possible to serve customers quickly and efficiently.

Another key aspect is the need to deliver services and applications closer to the end user by utilizing mobile edge computing. This is integral to ensuring the low latency and high-bandwidth associated with 5G and will support use cases across a wide range of verticals including transport, manufacturing and healthcare. However, flexible architectures will be required to support this type of infrastructure throughout hybrid cloud and virtualized environments. As operators move network infrastructure to the edge, the use of containers will become pivotal to supporting 5G applications.

The use of microservices and containers will increase during 2019 as operators’ ramp up their 5G propositions. Despite offering clear advantages, they will also add a new layer of complexity and carriers will need to have clear visibility across their IT infrastructure if they are going to make a success of 5G.

5G will drive virtualization in 2019 

Momentum is building behind 5G. The US and South Korea are leading the charge with the rollout of the first commercial networks; trials are taking place in every major market worldwide; and Verizon and Samsung have just announced plans to launch a 5G handset in early 2019. Expectations for 5G are high – the next-generation mobile standard will underpin mission-critical processes and innovations, including telemedicine, remote surgery and even driverless cars. However, vast sums of money will need to be spent on network infrastructure before any of this can happen, and it's the mobile and fixed carriers who will be expected to foot the bill. This is compounded by the fact that many of the aforementioned 5G use cases have yet to be defined, so carriers are being asked to gamble on an uncertain future.

So, what will the 5G future look like and what will it take to get us there?

One thing is for certain - 5G will drive network virtualization. In 2019, we will see an increasing number of carriers committing to deploying virtualized network infrastructure to support 5G applications and services. Without virtualization, it will be ‘virtually’ impossible to deliver 5G. This is because 5G requires virtualization both at the network core, and critically at the network edge. Puns aside, the days of building networks to support a single use case, such as mobile voice and data, or home broadband, are behind us. If 5G is to become a reality, then the networks of the future will need to be smart and automated, with the ability to switch between different functions to support a range of use cases.

However, moving from the physical world to the virtual world is no mean feat. Carriers are now discovering that their already complex networks are becoming even more so, as they replicate existing functions and create new ones in a virtualized environment. Wholesale migrations aren’t possible either, so carriers are having to get to grips with managing their new virtual networks alongside earlier generations of mobile and fixed technologies. Despite these challenges, 5G will undoubtedly accelerate the virtualization process. Subsequently, no-one will want to be left behind and we will see greater competition emerge between carriers as they commit funds and resources to building out their virtualised network infrastructures.

To justify this spend, and to tackle the challenges that lie ahead, carriers will require smart visibility into their constantly evolving network architectures. Virtual probes that produce smart data, supported by intelligent tools, offer much-needed visibility into the performance of these new networks and the services they support. The invaluable knowledge they provide will be absolutely critical for carriers as they accelerate their use of virtualized infrastructure to successfully deploy 5G.