In my, I discussed how 5G Standalone’s promise of new differentiated services in a range of markets and environments (e.g., network slices, private networks, edge services, Voice over New Radio, autonomous networks), will require a massive increase of disparate vendors to make them possible. As 5G Standalone fully embraces the cloud to open up many new ways to deploy, operate, and manage our networks going forward, faster and more frequent multi-vendor releases are an essential part of the process. That means complexity increases dramatically, and as a result, a new testing model is required to keep pace with the accelerating pace of technology evolution.
This cloudification encompasses cloud applications, private and public cloud platforms, and cloud infrastructure with hardware and software supporting virtualization and containerization. The new 5G SA Core is designed to be a disaggregated architecture, embracing the opportunity for agile service delivery of use cases to be hosted both on a telco stack or telco cloud and also on public cloud environments alike. This means not only having a network rich in performance capability, but also the ability to offer novel new applications and services delivered through a robust and collaborative ecosystem.
As a result, however, testing complexity increases between 10-50X. Here, the exacting requirements of moving from the lab to the live production network must be accounted for, all while embracing DevOps and continuous integration and deployment processes to achieve continuous test and ultimately continuous monitoring – the key to true success in 5G SA testing.
While the need for a new model of testing was explored in the last blog, it also noted the specific characteristics of that model were presented in the webinar. As a quick reference to that new testing model, we offer a high-level overview here.
The 5G SA lab-to-live testing lifecycle
The essential requirements of this testing model involve learning the new paradigms of operating and managing a true cloud-native environment and moving to an agile lifecycle automation approach that connects teams across the entire technology lifecycle through automated test and assurance solutions, to test, secure, and assure their networks. This challenge is compounded by silos of partial and bespoke test automation, where potentially incompatible pockets of proprietary knowledge reside. Without reconciling these underlying siloed environments, the DevOps CI/CD processes required to implement next-gen testing lose all value and fluidity. Let alone the costs of overlapping and duplicated efforts.
No small order.
5G Core testing success necessitates equipping the process pipeline and the underpinning environments with automation and leveraging common, shared, and curated global test libraries powered by realistic traffic and network emulation capabilities, consumed across both the network and the cloud. Achieving this advanced comprehensive continuous testing capability requires that it holistically integrates seamlessly with the CI/CD pipelines and DevOps operational processes from the design phase through the deployment of data operations.
Achieving this advanced comprehensive continuous testing capability requires that it holistically integrates seamlessly with the CI/CD pipelines and DevOps operational processes from the design phase through the deployment of data operations.
By automating and orchestrating lab-to-live processes, while simultaneously consolidating and federating the underpinning environments, common representative cloud-hosted test beds are created, eliminating redundancy and delays across resources and silos while delivering tangible benefits and optimal vendor ecosystem collaboration.
True end-to-end automation of the validation process requires testing to extend beyond the labs and staging environments and into the operational network to become an integral part of highly proactive monitoring of the network and provide closed-loop mechanisms of a self-driving process of active testing which is the cornerstone of continuous monitoring.
The good news: You don’t stand alone facing the challenges of next-gen 5G SA testing
As mentioned above, a team of experts convened in a webinar to discuss these 5G SA challenges and opportunities: Heavy Reading Principal Analyst – Ruth Brown, Spirent Head of Strategy – Steve Douglas, and Spirent VP of Global Business Solutions – Chris O'Loughlin. They explain why 5G is disrupting traditional testing and share how 5G leaders are adopting automation and "as a service" models to reinvent testing for the 5G cloud.
The webinar covers the following topics:
Service providers' transformation to the cloud: status, challenges, and headwinds
What a cloud-native 5G Core release calendar looks like and the move to CI/CD
The need for automation across the lab-to-live lifecycle (CI/CD/CT/CM)
The role of "as a service" models and case studies