5G Network Transformation: What CSPs Need to Know

3 min read

5G is bearing down on every Communications Service Provider (CSP).

For many, the first step is the transformation of the network through virtualization—changing a long-lived hardware solution into a flexible, cloud-based virtual environment that operates by different rules. This transformation from hardware to software offers challenges and opportunities and demands a new perspective.

As CSPs evolve their networks to cloud native models in preparation for 5G, there’s a lot that can make CTOs anxious. You need to reduce costs of ongoing operations, minimize risk in network transformation, and find new sources of profitable growth without being locked into a particular vendor.

While these challenges can seem overwhelming, you can take a pragmatic approach to address them. Let’s look at several must-have business and technical outcomes.

Reduce operational costs

Apply the latest in intelligent automation technologies to make a significant reduction in your manual process and therein cut your operational expenses (OPEX).

As you transform your telecommunications network, new challenges emerge with regard to how to you evolve your workforce—from managing mostly physical resources to managing the software assets that make up virtual network elements and functions.

Managing the lifecycle for Container Network Functions (CNFs) and Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) combines software DevOps practices for continuous innovation and delivery with traditional Day 0, Day 1, and Day 2 management challenges of instantiating and assuring network services.

Find a solution that embraces intelligent automation throughout the entire lifecycle of your telco cloud services and spans all CNFs and VNFs to rapidly orchestrate and instantiate services. In order to embrace change, your teams need dynamic (near-real time) topology with artificial intelligence. This reduces noise and helps you recognize that the network you’re working with right now is different than the network of yesterday, or even minutes ago.

“A cloud-centric network architecture will enable CSPs to participate in value creation stemming from emerging technologies, such as 5G and edge computing, and adopt next-generation network operations based on data and AI and ML for continuous automation.”

TBR White Paper, sponsored by IBM, Leading CSPs Adopt New Edge Network Architecture to Create Value in the Digital Era, January 2020

Minimize risk in network transformation to cloud while evolving to 5G

First, extend your current investments and leverage orchestration and service assurance, allowing virtualization to start at any area within your network and at your pace of adoption.  

Find a solution that offers the most flexible deployment of CNFs/VNFs and physical elements into network services, and make sure the solution can do so across heterogenous and multi-vendor networks. You may decide that, for business reasons, you need to start a migration of a particular part of your network—your core, edge, or RAN first—so you need flexibility to do so.

Find new sources of profitable growth

Modernize your network and enable enterprises to deliver new services at the edge. You can lower investment risks by starting small and rapidly scaling as needed and delivering niche services to target markets.

Your solution should help you more rapidly develop and deploy new network services and reduce the training required to deploy new services. To stay nimble and competitive, you need to adopt agile practices so you can rapidly try, adopt, and even drop services if they don’t take off—all with minimal risk. Flexibility in service design, activation, and termination as well as the ability to rapidly scale services when they do take off will keep you at the forefront and most profitable.

Avoid vendor lock-in

The last thing you need is orchestration that is vendor limited or vendor biased. This can result in a limited set of capabilities for certain vendor elements as opposed to others, with multiple management and orchestration (MANO) platforms and systems.

Seek a solution that is truly open and vendor agnostic, and partner with a vendor that has demonstrated industry leadership and a proven commitment to open source solutions. Nearly 50% of the top Fortune 100 companies are using Red Hat OpenShift, and almost 30% of the top Fortune Global 500 companies use OpenShift, representing two of the top three telecommunications companies.

IBM can help your business evolve to 5G

IBM’s intelligent automation features, with industry-leading open source technology for flexible orchestration and service assurance, can help you rapidly develop, deploy, and scale new services and even reduce response time by greater than 5x.

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