5G Perfection Isn’t Optional, Making Agility More Important Than Ever
It seems like every day the goal posts for 5G rollouts move closer and closer. Mobile operators are used to racing to be first. They’ve even become accustomed to competing on a global stage even as they operate regional or national networks. But they’re no longer competing just with each other. Now, the competition is with speed itself. Operators that take months to launch a new service won’t be able to keep up with the likes of tech giants that can release services at lightning speed.
It’s not just advantageous, but necessary, to expedite the journey to 5G in this competitive market. But operators should understand that while demands for them to move ever faster reach new heights, expectations for perfection remain the same. In other words, customers still expect carrier grade service. That’s where agile test strategies will enter to save the day.
Agile development cultures and cloud native architectures opening new doors
Operators accustomed to being hamstrung by legacy architectures are experiencing a newfound freedom. Because 5G networks are being built on new innovative radio and core, they are largely working with a clean slate that lets them adopt Amazon-style web-scale principles and agility from the start. To fully maximize this agility, however, they’ll need to ensure that a DevOps culture permeates their organizations, apply automation across the service lifecycle and embrace open APIs and cloud native architectures.
This goes not just for 5G testing, but service assurance as well. Manual test, validation and assurance will buckle under the pressure of 5G’s urgency, complexity and innovation. To achieve agility and market success, operators require new test approaches based on automation and emulation. End-to-end test methodologies that embrace a DevOps culture and cloud native computing environment will assure that the communications industry fulfills its promise of safely accelerating 5G deployments.
An efficient DevOps culture speeds time-to-market
A DevOps culture improves efficiency and processes to provide rapid-paced product development and deployment. It uses Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Test (CT), Continuous Delivery (CD), and Continuous Change Management (CCM) capabilities with automated orchestration. Streamlined DevOps Continuous Testing practices improve efficiency, enable faster time to market and proactively address quality issues.
The benefits of such an approach can be significant. Recently, a major network equipment manufacturer implemented Spirent’s DevOps CI/CT framework to help developers and QA teams automate their build, release and quality testing with hourly cadences, delivering the following success:
Streamlining regression testing from two weeks to nightly eight-hour windows (a 90% reduction)
Accelerating builds and tests with a 98% reduction in time (from 46 hours to one hour)
Reducing release cycles by 85% (from four weeks to 24-hour cycles)
The CI/CT framework included an intelligent automation environment, common REST APIs, common test suites/tools & reports repository and a management portal with process and access controls.
Native cloud microservices for speed and scalability
Cloud native software and applications use an open source software stack to deploy applications as microservices. These small, self-contained and loosely coupled services are fast to develop, quick to launch and individually scalable. Because of their impact on time-to-market, cloud native architectures are being mandated by leading operators.
Applying microservices to the areas of test and assurance gives operators the agility they need to test the wide variety of highly complex, dynamic test cases created by the new radio, virtualized networks and the many new services. They can be efficiently chained across the service lifecycle and seamlessly moved between lab and production environments.
For example, a cloud native service assurance solution can be constructed from independent, open modules to target specific service assurance needs, like customer experience, mobility services and transport services. This forms a catalog of open service assurance microservices that can be utilized throughout the service lifecycle and deployed across physical networks, early-stage virtual “islands,” hybrid networks and full virtual networks. Immediate benefits include:
Reduced outages, improved quality and cost efficiencies
Efficient scaling to handle dynamic network evolution
Zero down-time for release delivery
Are you ready to be agile?
As you accelerate to 5G, plan to have an agile test strategy that is based on automation, continuous testing and the use of test microservices agents and open APIs.
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