A walk in the clouds

The rapid introduction of mobile/IoT devices and applications driving digital transformation is shining a bright light on the inability of campus IT infrastructure to adapt to constantly changing traffic patterns that hamper business agility. At the heart of this transformation is moving to a true cloud-native network designed with inherent elasticity to cope with massive changes in demand that happen at a moment's notice.

Conventional campus networks were not conceived to exploit recent innovations, such as cloud computing and AI-based orchestration needed to give enterprises the agility to quickly respond to changes in their business. Constantly recalibrating a Wi-Fi network every day, as new operational technology applications are being introduced is unthinkable.

Companies are continually changing, improving and automating operational processes and workflows. New devices are entering the network, specialized applications are being introduced and humans are being replaced by machines at an increasing rate.  This phenomenon is changing traffic patterns within campus networks. What used to be simply clients accessing servers has turned into video of all types going in every direction.

Decoupling software functions from expensive, proprietary hardware has become a major push for the industry due to the scalability and flexibility it provides. This enables the network operating system to be designed from the ground up using cloud-native microservices. By doing this for individual network services that make up network operating systems, organizations can create a highly scalable and agile platform that enables essential network resources to be dynamically assigned and orchestrated.

It's here where AI becomes an immensely useful technology tool in automatically managing all of the resources required for a given application across the entire network — something humans simply can't efficiently do today. It's within this context where enterprise adoption of 5G really shines. 5G promises to deliver wire-like performance over wireless. The ultra-reliable, low-latency characteristics of cellular technology have the potential to enable automation like never before.

For the enterprise, embracing 5G can be an incremental and not a wholesale change. By migrating the most critical business applications to 5G, the existing campus network can be left in place to serve less critical applications. Quality of service requirements can be automatically mapped between the 5G wireless network and the existing enterprise infrastructure policies with little to no human intervention.

Accenture Strategy estimates that US operators alone will spend as much as $275 billion over seven years in 5G core networks and cell sites. 5G buildout justifications are based largely on new — and often real-time — use cases that assume extreme sophistication in mobile networks. However, making those use cases a reality requires operators to find an affordable way to rapidly scale their infrastructures to deliver distributed resources wherever they're needed. That means embracing the concept of telco clouds.

While there's been talk of telco clouds for years, they haven't progressed much beyond network functions virtualization (NFV). NFV deployments have suffered from a lack of "cloud-native" components, as operators tend to use NFV to quickly spin up a new service here and there but haven't invested in bona fide multi-cloud service delivery platforms — and the associated operational processes and people skills — needed to fully address both current and future deployment requirements.

Telco partnerships with large cloud providers could be just the ticket for merging infrastructures in ways that make 5G more affordable and able to turn a profit faster. Such partnerships could also create all-new business models for jointly delivering innovative, customer-centric services based on analytics derived by merging both types of organizations' customer databases. Operators will have to transition legacy service platforms into cloud-native platforms to partner with cloud providers.

As operator networks grow more software-based, telcos using the cloud should adopt machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics to further improve their operations. Virtualization and cloudification allow for unprecedented levels of network automation, which is growing in importance.

Glow’s role

Glow Networks has extensive experience guiding enterprises in deploying networks and infrastructure. Our strong program and project management skills guarantee cost-effective network implementation, which results in faster time-to-market and we get it right the first time, every single time. By implementing the best practices in the industry, we help clients reduce total cost of ownership by an onsite-offshore model and automating the process.

Glow also provides post-deployment services such as 24x7 monitoring, L2/L3 technical assistance, issue fixing and escalation that enable process improvement and operational efficiency. To guarantee service availability, Glow also provides services like change management, network maintenance and other critical services.

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