The five overlooked factors that can make or break a 5G strategy

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Andrew Coward, CEO, Lumina Networks

Lumina Networks has just published its "5G eBook" which focuses on five overlooked factors that can make or break a 5G strategy. Martyn Warwick of TelecomTV discussed the eBook with Lumina's CEO, Andrew Coward, and asked him to explain the five factors one at a time, beginning with:

Factor 1: The Physical Network.

As Andrew Coward says, the physical network obviously plays a vital role because it is already in situ and constant use. And, of course, any CSP or network operator needs to take the fullest possible advantage of all aspects of its physical infrastructure assets such as backhaul, microwave and the existing MPLS network etc., and co-opt everything into the delivery of new services. Lumina solutions bring agility to existing networks by allowing them to be dynamically managed and configured by apps and services that need bandwidth at any time and at any point.

Factor 2: Orchestration.

Orchestration can be an overlooked factor in a 5G strategy because orchestration today is confined to a series of network silos - and it is not possible to deploy 5G from a silo'ed network because 5G services have to be turned on instantly and must move dynamically around and across the network according to loading and latency requirements. The only way to do this is via an holistic orchestration environment that is available across all network domains and assets.

Factor 3: Intent (Part A)

In a 5G network, intent (or intent-based) networking means providing control to assets such as apps, the data centre and to things and circumstances that need network resources but do not understand what is needed to deliver them. An example here might be the need for a certain amount of bandwidth from an app to a base station where the customer neither knows nor cares how it is delivered but uses an API call to get it. This is fundamental and requires orchestration across all network components.

Intent-based networking (Part B).

The second overlooked part of intent-based networking is that it is necessary to pull information out of the network to determine if assets are functioning properly, whether they are broken or having other problems, and then use that information make decisions about what to do in real-time. An example here would be when a backhaul link goes down the CSP knows about it immediately, can react to the changed circumstances, and make what is essentially an informed business decision to move subscribers to a different cell tower or use a microwave backup and have that decision activated immediately. Intent-based networking also plays directly into network security and is a tremendous enabler of machine Learning and AI.

Factor 4: Open Source.

From a network perspective, CSPs have always gone to vendors to get problems solved. One vendor's proprietary solution will always be greatly different from another proprietary solution and making equipment from different vendors work together in a CSP's network is notoriously difficult. This is where Open Source and Lumina come in by playing a neutral role and working with everybody and anybody to provide solutions. For Lumina's customers it means that if Lumina Networks failed or was acquired, they are not trapped and to can always go back to the Open Source/open community version of the solution because what Lumina does is provide extra services and capabilities on top of Open Source material and never detracts from the value the open source community has delivered in bringing OpenDaylight to the market. That makes a huge difference and is the deciding factor in how to bring holistically together the entire network.

Factor 5: Culture

5G is influencing the culture of CSPs and is forcing cultural change on them because network groups now have to work together; the networking group has to work with the IT group, the optical group has to work with the MPLS Group, and so on, and this brings a company closer together. Added to that is the fact that the different departments within a telco now have to work in different ways such as bringing DevOps to bear across the entire organisation and having continuous integration test cycles so that all can see what the network actually looks like. Lumina sees its customers going through the transformation process, some manage it with comparative ease while others find it very difficult, but in either event Lumina can demonstrate how to get things done quickly with Open Source and change culture with minimum pain and maximum efficiency in such a way that enthusiasm for cultural change is promulgated throughout a CSP's entire organisation.

Filmed at DSP Leaders Forum 2019

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