As 5G rolls out around the world, the pressure is on operators to monetize substantial investments in spectrum and new infrastructure. Improved consumer connectivity will be part of the revenue mix. But operators are looking to business services and support across verticals to power 5G monetization in a major way.
No matter how you slice it, service assurance is set to play a starring role.
Business customers bring big demands
Businesses want high-performing services tailored to their needs. One-size-fits-all need not apply in a hyper-customized world.
For example, they may require highly reliable low latency communications or want access to increased bandwidth at a moment’s notice. These customers have specific quality of service expectations and need to know that the agreed upon quality has been provided. For critical services like telemedicine and autonomous vehicles, performance degradation is a non-starter.
5G has been designed to meet these discerning needs. Its power comes from a fundamental capability to respond to service and network demands dynamically, in real-time.
5G’s distributed and disaggregated, cloud-based and event-driven architecture provides agile resource allocation, edge-based services with ultra-low latency, and much more. Operators face challenges of rapid software changes and feature requirements, driving the practice of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) into the network. By decoupling the software from the hardware, operators can deploy code updates rapidly and frequently to meet business challenges faster than before.
Operators face challenges of rapid software changes and feature requirements, driving the practice of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) into the network.
Network slicing is a big breakthrough, but with a quality-related catch
5G opens the door to the delivery of network slices that can be scaled up or down as needed based on the needs of the service they support. The promise of flexible network slicing enables service providers to charge differently for varying classes of traffic requesting specific performance levels. These requirements become part of service-level agreement (SLA) contracts with the business customer to ensure the network is delivering as planned.
Demonstrating the infrastructure is actually meeting the quality SLA of each logical slice requires measuring and reporting the relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Such proof is especially important for critical applications like emergency services. The implications of SLAs on service providers and the opportunities they provide are described in more detail in an article we recently wrote for.
There’s a major challenge, though: while 5G sets the stage for new, promising services such as network slicing, its architectural and technical innovations have major implications on how the quality of those services can be assured.
How service assurance takes network slicing to new heights
Network slicing demands stakeholders consider the role service assurance can play in bringing demanding use cases over the performance finish line, including:
End-to-end visibility into the network for any service instance across any network slice
Network and service monitoring in real-time
Performance monitoring across multiple geographic and technology domains
Analysis of SLA KPIs in real time
Active testing to monitor, troubleshoot, and isolate continuous network updates
Dynamic scalability to meet changing network requirements
Service assurance is expanding beyond an end-to-end network view to also include a holistic view across the full-service lifecycle with efficient, cost-effective management and automation of real-time events.
In our next post, we’ll dive into the service assurance deployment strategies and considerations shaping network slicing design.
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