Thursday, October 13, 2022

Blueprint: The Automation Imperative in 5G Transport Deployments

 by Sally Bament, Vice President, Cloud & Service Provider Marketing, Juniper Networks

5G is poised to make an enormous impact on the global economy, and organizations that can successfully exploit its speed, bandwidth and ultra-low latency have an opportunity to lead their market by delivering new and innovative services. In addition to the highly advertised enhancements of mobile telecommunications for consumers, 5G will be an important play in numerous other vertical markets, all of which represent attractive business opportunities.

For example, handling the volume of data generated by IoT sensors in logistics applications – transportation, warehousing, retail distribution and the like – will require bandwidth that only 5G can provide. 5G speed and low latency will take robotics (and productivity) to new levels on the factory floor. In homes, 5G will elevate immersive gaming and enable virtual reality. These are just a few examples of a market that is projected to reach $1,271 billion by 2025.

To participate in this growth, companies will need to evolve the way they plan, deploy, architect and optimize their transport networks, and this will involve a much higher degree of automation than now exists. Currently, 75% of networking activities[i] are manual, and 85% of CSPs[ii] still use manual or semi-manual processes to manage their network service lifecycle. Handling the increased scale and complexity of a 5G network with this level of manual intervention will not be sustainable. Fortunately, sophisticated, field-proven automation solutions are available to support the transition to 5G from initial deployment to long-term operation.

Eliminate Manual Tasks

Both the familiar mobile consumer services and emerging enterprises rely on edge computing to process the massive amounts of data more efficiently and cost-effectively. Such architectures can involve onboarding hundreds or even thousands of geographically dispersed mini data centers, including those incorporated within cell sites.

It’s hard to imagine deploying those modern distributed architectures manually with onsite engineers, but it’s viable with automation. The process begins with a template that can easily be replicated wherever a new point of presence is required. Templates enable a much faster turn-up process, plus a level of consistency throughout the network that translates into higher reliability and speed. One Tier 1 network provider’s manual cell-site activation process had more than 50 manual steps that took a minimum of 26 hours to set up. By switching to an automated process, the company reduced the activation time to two hours.

While reducing or eliminating manual tasks is often cited as the primary benefit of automation, it is by no means the only one. Automation also plays a vital role in onboarding devices and customers quickly, maintaining optimal network performance, maximizing utilization, accelerating problem identification, automation remediation, improving security and meeting service-level agreements (SLAs).

Measure what matters

Making automation work demands first and foremost a new attitude towards network quality data. In simple terms, instead of focusing on the health of the various elements involved in the end-to-end service delivery chain, operators need to measure what matters most: service quality and end user experience. This can now be achieved easily with active assurance which leverage virtual agents sending synthetic transactions directly on the data plane. Am I delivering the service quality characteristics purchased by my customers? If not, where are the performance degradations in the service delivery chain and what should I do to fix the problem? In a 5G network these are very complex questions, as different slices may need to support diverse services, each with specific requirements, such as an IoT application with a large number of low-throughput devices vs. an MBB where there are fewer devices, but each is transmitting or receiving high bandwidth content. With active assurance continually measuring real service quality, automated systems can make adjustments to routing and bandwidth requirements to optimize performance in real time with no need for human intervention. 

The ultimate goal of any network is to deliver the best possible experience for the user. To do so in a highly complex 5G deployment, automation is no longer a “nice to have” capability. It’s a “must have.” For example, automation can play an important role in the identification and remediation of incidents that affect the user experience. Currently, 60% of network problems are not discovered by NetOps, but by others, notably the users themselves. This is not acceptable, and underlines the fact that manually responding to every incident is no longer a viable option.

Deploy automation one use case at a time 

Although the need for automation is well understood, implementing it is still seen as a daunting task by many organizations. According to a survey conducted by Heavy Reading, 40% of CSPs believe that using a generic automation framework is the first barrier to adopting automation in their transport networks. This is not a necessary first step. The best approach to automation is to apply it to one business problem at a time. Working through a single implementation to a successful conclusion will provide lessons that will help future implementations go smoothly, and will also generate enthusiasm and build momentum for automation within the organization. SaaS-based automation for device onboarding is one good place to start.

Intent-Based Networking

Ultimately, the value of automation is that it enables operators to build intent-based networks. By shifting the focus towards “what to do” as opposed to “how to do it,” intent-based networking increases agility and lets operators respond more rapidly to business needs.

In summary, the arrival of 5G opens up a whole new realm of business opportunities, but success demands new ways of looking at network management.

[i] Gartner®, Market Guide for Network Automation Tools, Andrew Lerner, Ted Corbet, February 22, 2022

[ii] Omdia, Survey of 92 Communication Service Providers, September 2020


Verizon moves commercial traffic onto its 5G core

Verizon has begun moving customer traffic onto its new cloud-native, containerized 5G core.

The Verizon Cloud Platform (VCP), on which the 5G core is built, is based on a Webscale software architecture with advanced technologies designed specifically for telco workloads. VCP is a distributed platform that supports edge services, private cloud services, Network Function Virtualization tools, Cloud Native Functions, Web applications, mapping and spatial analysis tools, orchestration tools, service assurance tools, auto-remediation, and compute offerings. 

In addition to network slicing and dynamic resource allocation, Verizon cites the following benefits for its new 5G core:

  • Real-time resource management of Radio Access Network and core virtual container-based network functions
  • Advanced analytics of network data to improve network performance
  • Optimized services between Verizon's fixed and mobile networks
  • Scalable, more cost-efficient architecture
  • Ability to move workloads to fit use case requirements

Veizon said this architecture will enable it to achieve new levels of operational automation and adaptability to create differentiated customer experiences. This directional technology platform that enables MEC will support stand alone, non-stand alone, and VoNR services.

“Our mission has always been to build and operate the best, most reliable, highest performing, and secure networks in the world,” said Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Network Technology, Strategy, and Planning at Verizon. “The 5G Core is a critical step in achieving our goal. From the densification and virtualization work in the Radio Access Network, to the architectural design changes in the core of the network developed specifically for telco workloads, we are working to ensure customers not only have access to 5G, but have the most advanced, secure, and robust network to support the remarkable new solutions being developed on 5G technology.”

“Bringing traffic onto the newly designed core coincides with the ecosystem development around us. With a critical number of customers now having devices that can access the advanced features of the 5G core and the solutions and applications development – especially for enterprise customers – really taking off, now is the ideal time to move traffic onto the new core,” said Koeppe.

Verizon has deployed 8,000 virtualized cell sites 

Verizon has now deployed over 8,000 virtualized cell sites with a goal of deploying over 20,000 by the end of 2025. “We are building the network with the most advanced technology available, because we know people rely on our network and we are committed to delivering the variety and quality of services our customers need,” said Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Planning and Technology at Verizon. “Even while driving the most aggressive network...

Verizon upgrades its core network for 400G with Juniper's PTX series

Verizon is refreshing its core network with Juniper Networks' PTX series routers supporting 400G interfaces. Verizon said the new equipment is half the size of the existing equipment, reducing space requirements in core facilities and driving down both power usage per GB and cost per GB to operate. In addition, the new equipment offers an advanced level of automation, allowing for automated interfaces with other network systems.Verizon also...

Google Fiber to launch 5 Gbps and 8 Gbps residential tiers

Google Fiber plans to launch 5 Gig and 8 Gig symmetrical residential service beginning in early 2023. Pricing will $125/month for 5 Gig and $150/month for 8 Gig, including a Wi-Fi 6 router, up to two mesh extenders and professional installation.

Google Fiber believes the new 5 Gig and 8 Gig will appeal to creative professionals, people working in the cloud or with large data, households with large shared internet demands.  

The company also notes that it is currently field testing a 20G service.

  • Google Fiber is available in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Huntsville, Kansas City, Nashville, Orange County, Provo, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Raleigh-Durham, and coming to Omaha and West Des Moines.

Alphawave IP acquires Banias Labs, an optical DSP developer

Alphawave IP has acquired Banias Labs, an Israel-based optical Digital Signal Processing ("DSP") chip developer for data centers for approximately US$240 million. 

Alphawave IP said the acquisition strengthens Alphawave's roadmap of optical DSP silicon products for data centers.

Alongside the acquisition of Banias Labs, Alphawave has negotiated a non-binding, multi-year purchasing framework with a leading North American hyperscaler that proposes a multi-year roadmap for Alphawave to develop and sell a portfolio of optical products and DSPs, including coherent DSP technology from Banias Labs, with sales potentially ramping to over US$300 million. 

Tony Pialis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alphawave said: "Banias Labs optical DSP technology provides a strong strategic advantage for Alphawave, strengthening our roadmap of DSP silicon solutions for data centers. This acquisition enhances our portfolio of electrical and optical solutions in the most advanced process technologies. The multi-year purchasing framework includes coherent optical solutions, and with the Banias acquisition, Alphawave is expanding its total addressable market by delivering next generation coherent optical solutions for the most advanced data centers."

John Lofton Holt, Executive Chairman of Alphawave said: "We are pleased to welcome the talented Banias Labs team to Alphawave. This acquisition aligns with the strategic priorities that we articulated at our IPO, expanding our technology portfolio in high-speed connectivity to support long-term growth. Coherent optics will enable the next level of efficiencies in data center communications, addressing the increasing bandwidth and power efficiency requirements."

BMW looks to AWS for customizable cloud software

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the BMW Group announced a strategic collaboration to develop customizable cloud software that will simplify the distribution and management of data from millions of connected vehicles. The software collects vehicle signals and fleet intelligence data, then securely processes and routes the data in the cloud. 

BMW plans to use the software for its next-generation, cloud-based vehicle data platform. 

Only the BMW Group’s internal domain experts—vehicle application developers, fleet managers, data scientists, and artificial intelligence, business intelligence, and development engineers—gain access to the data via a self-service mechanism that gathers streaming vehicle data, easily adds new data sources, configures access in accordance with governance policies, and monitors the quality and health of streaming sources. The data is then combined with AWS capabilities, including analytics, machine learning, database, storage, and compute, enabling the BMW Group experts to create new vehicle features and applications.

“We have 20 million connected vehicles on the road today. With the launch of the ‘Neue Klasse,’ BMW’s next generation of vehicles, our offboard cloud platform, powered by AWS, will process roughly triple the volume of vehicle data compared to the current generation of BMW models,” said Nicolai Krämer, vice president of Vehicle Connectivity Platforms at the BMW Group. “Together with AWS, we will continue to create innovative solutions that enable us to develop and deliver new data-driven functions to customers worldwide, even faster.”

Alaska Communications subsea fiber collects wave activity

Alaska Communications is collaborating with Oregon State University’s College of Engineering to allow wave activity data to be collected from the ocean floor via the company’s subsea fiber optic cable.

Oregon State Assistant Professor of Coastal Engineering, Meagan Wengrove, Ph.D., her Ph.D. student and two post-doctoral researchers traveled to Alaska Communications’ landing station in Florence, Oregon in September to attach a DAS interrogator (distributed acoustic sensing) to the company’s fiber. The instrument measures strain applied to the cable and reports data back to the research team. In addition, the team has radar on the surface of the ocean and two moorings on the ocean floor which contribute to the research.

“The Alaska Communications cable is in an ideal location for our team to monitor the interaction between waves and currents coming out of the Siuslaw River along the Pacific coastline,” said Wengrove. “This project will support continued learning about wave interaction which could potentially improve or provide warnings for coastal communities in the event of dangerous wave activity, like sneaker waves.”

Juniper names Chris Kaddaras as Chief Revenue Officer

Juniper Networks naemd Chris Kaddaras as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, reporting to Chief Executive Officer, Rami Rahim. 

Prior to Juniper, Chris served as Chief Revenue Officer at Transmit Security, a provider of customer identity and access management SaaS solutions. Before that, he held multiple roles at Nutanix from 2016-2021, including Chief Revenue Officer. Prior to joining Nutanix, Chris was with EMC Corporation for 16 years, where he held positions including Vice President of Commercial Sales and Vice President of Sales Engineering across EMEA.

“I've watched Juniper change the networking industry by enabling digital transformation for customers of all shapes and sizes that are increasingly seeking cloud-delivered, AI-driven and secure solutions to power their strategic evolutions. It’s no longer enough for a network to be ‘up;’ it must also be ‘good’, and Juniper is uniquely positioned to deliver on that promise. The opportunity to continue to grow Juniper’s market share in enterprise and continue to serve as a trusted strategic partner with service providers and cloud providers is huge. And as a sales leader, it’s always exciting to have technology that’s not only highly differentiated but can also actually deliver real outcomes for organizations. I couldn’t be more motivated to join this team.” - Chris Kaddaras, executive vice president and chief revenue officer, Juniper Networks