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Scaling Assurance for Next-Gen App Demands

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When it comes guaranteeing performance for next-gen apps, communication service providers can’t afford a best effort approach. Learn how service assurance is taking on an increasingly prominent role as a key data source for validation in the transformation to event-driven 5G architectures.

Our last post focused on the role active service assurance plays in building solid foundations for high-performing 5G rollouts. These foundations are meant to position operators to scale as 5G traffic and services grow.

While consumers are being sold on speed today, as an industry, we know the real magic will happen when we can deliver entirely new experiences. Some will be lifechanging. Others, mission critical. There will be innovations that usher in new eras of convenience. And some will just be plain old fun.

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications will transform transportation, improve safety, and increase traffic efficiency. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will revolutionize warehouses and factories. The IoT’ing of everything will make every device we interact with a smart one. Augmented reality (AR) will layer the info we need at the moment we need it. It will take mobile gaming to new heights.

Of course, we’re talking about end results. Specifically, the experiences delivered when everything goes right. We’ve got a way to go before we get there.

To date, we’ve seen too many challenges maintaining performance for simple 5G services like high-speed connectivity. Begin factoring in endless complexities associated with the broad range of next-gen apps coming to market and promises risk falling short.

No shortage of challenges threatening to thwart 5G service scale

News around trials and proofs of concept (PoCs) associated with a slate of new services is encouraging and exciting.

The live network, however, is unforgiving compared to the test lab or certain static sites engineered to meet a specific need within the network.

Think about everything that must go right for services to perform as expected. Devices register to the network from a variety of locations, each requiring minimum standards of performance. These devices may be in motion, traversing a range of mobile sites and possibly networks not owned by the operator tasked with delivering the service. The right network functions must be deployed at the right places and be able to spin up in support as needed. The right compute resources must exist in the right locations. A defined performance threshold must be met in a sustained way.

Understanding that a network can’t be configured to be all things to all services is where network slicing comes into play. Slicing carves up the network in a way that dedicates designated lanes to specific services and devices. Some slices may be optimized for ultra-low latency. Others for ironclad security. Some may be configured to handle large volumes of bandwidth.

As opposed to today’s generic consumer 5G, the B2B or B2B2C aspect of the services discussed in this post means a best effort approach won’t be tolerated. Communication service providers (CSPs) can’t afford it. Worse, poor performance for certain services could quite literally be a matter of life and death.

These considerations are compelling many CSPs to see that assurance is not a luxury but an absolute necessity.

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These considerations are compelling many CSPs to see that assurance is not a luxury but an absolute necessity.

The role of SLAs in next-gen service delivery

Service level agreements (SLAs) will be necessary to ensure there are guardrails around acceptable performance for next-gen apps. Service assurance will play a key role in fulfilling that requirement as 5G continues to transform all aspects of the business/operations support systems (B/OSS).

While not a new addition to operator networks, service assurance is taking on an increasingly prominent role as a key data source for validation in the transformation to event-driven architectures. Over time, service assurance has evolved to encompass not just monitoring performance but also degradation isolation using both closed-loop and ad-hoc live network testing capabilities. The best practice today is for these solutions to be virtual, distributed, scalable, dynamic, and most of all, flexible to meet future needs.

Comprehensive Active Assurance Use Cases

In our work with customers on this front, we identified the following key criteria to consider when evaluating service assurance solutions for 5G deployments:

  • Scalability: A cloud-native, distributed solution that can rapidly shift resources up or down in real time will power 5G slicing that requires active monitoring in the end-to-end network.

  • Speed: While time-series data is important in understanding a network, event-driven architectures require analysis of key performance indicators in real-time.

  • Multi-domain: Active capabilities that monitor service and network performance across complex technology domains will ensure services deployed across 5G architectures and deliver the experiences end users expect.

  • Capabilities: Active testing for monitoring, closed-loop testing for isolation, and ad-hoc testing for troubleshooting must integrated into NetDevOps solutions to achieve true network visibility.

In our next post, we’ll dive into the role that SLAs play in delivering next-gen services for new network architectures. For more insight into the role of 5G active assurance testing, read our white paper It’s Time to Be Proactive: Why 5G, SD-WAN & NFV Require Automated Active Assurance.

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Justin Robinson

Lead Solution Architect

Justin has worked globally with Tier 1 CSPs for more than 30 years architecting and delivering solutions across domains in wireline and wireless technologies, cloud infrastructures, and OSS solutions supporting real time network requirements. He has worked with both NEMs and CSPs in evangelizing and implementing new technologies focused on meeting business value with operational optimization. With Spirent, Justin is a lead Solution Architect with the Managed Solutions Group delivering solutions that meet the challenges CSPs have in unprecedented network change from the Lab to the Live implementation and operations.