How to build your IT infrastructure for 5G-enabled edge computing

Innovative businesses embrace network modernization for the 5G future and beyond

By | 3 minute read | May 5, 2020

The global 5G-enabled edge computing market is growing rapidly, fueled by major technology changes that are disrupting the traditional networking industry. By 2025, this market is expected to exceed $50 billion.

5G has the potential to deliver a new generation of services, thanks to higher data rates and ultra-low latency. To take full advantage of this potential, communications service providers are looking to move data processing and compute power closer to the end user — closer to the edge.

Edge computing combined with 5G creates tremendous opportunities for new products, platforms and experiences in every industry. By 2025, 75% of enterprise data will be processed at the edge, compared to only 10% today.

While the digital boom provides many opportunities for IT leaders, it comes with challenges: a growing number of smart devices, the need for faster processing and increased pressure on enterprise networks. Edge computing brings computation and data storage closer to where data is created by people, places and things to enable new client experiences, faster insights and actions, and continuous operations.

Some key trends are empowering this shift toward the 5G-enabled edge.

Shift to cloud-based virtualized networking

Ever-increasing amounts of data and video, mobile workload volatility, the rising number of connections and demand for lower latency are all driving organizations to develop transformative strategies. To embrace the 5G-enabled edge future, businesses must transition to networks with cloud-based virtualized networking.

Cloud-based networking allows for simplified management and expansion of network capabilities, which help accelerate innovation, service fulfillment and operations.

Virtualization and cloudification are paving the way for an unprecedented level of cognitive automation, allowing networks to conduct intelligent, agile, responsive network and service operations.

The rise of NFV and SDN technologies

Network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking technologies are expected to present the highest opportunities in the 5G infrastructure market. As a key enabler of 5G infrastructure, NFV is the next logical step in network evolution. NFV replaces single physical network appliances with virtualized network functions linked together across virtual machines.

Software-defined networking (SDN), on the other hand, is designed to make networks more flexible and agile. SDN redefines network architecture to support unique requirements of the 5G ecosystem. 5G SDN will play a crucial role in the design of 5G networks. In particular, it will provide an intelligent architecture for network programmability, as well as the creation of multiple network hierarchies.

AI and automation-enabled network management

The move toward virtualization and cloudification will require new levels of network automation, especially in a world where workloads are increasingly dynamic and many IoT applications require low latency. This would warrant a shift to AI-enabled network management platforms.

Network DevOps

The adoption of cloud-based virtualized networks has initiated a need for a continuous development and operations (DevOps) methodology. This is important in order to facilitate an automated, factory-based approach for end-to-end service lifecycle management.

Adopting a DevOps methodology for network operations is crucial to future network evolution because it provides an environment for continuously engineering (building, onboarding, testing and managing) new services — not to mention ongoing updates for existing services.

Network DevOps enables a lean, effective way to implement functionality and services that help improve customer experience and drive revenue by automating the services lifecycle and driving resiliency. As networks become increasingly software-based, this provides a straightforward way to create new services by assembling and chaining software components together. In fact, it allows for a DevOps-like model for network service development, network operations and end-to-end management.

There is no doubt that the explosion of the 5G-enabled edge market presents incredible opportunities for businesses to streamline IT operations and reap new value from existing resources. Implementing transformative network strategies and modernizing enterprise networks will help innovative business get the most from this opportunity and deliver new services at the edge.