Thursday, December 2, 2021

Cloud Computing and 5G

The combination of the speed of 5G with the power and flexibility of cloud computing promises to enable a powerful new chapter in Information Technology. A number of technological shifts is enabling this new emerging technology. In this webinar you will learn:

  • The current status of 5G; what needs to happen before 5G sees still more deployments.
  • The relationship between cloud native computing and 5G; how one technology depends on the other.
  • “The power of policy,” and how there will be more collaborations with cloud providers, IoT cloud applications and 5G network connectivity.

To provide insight into cloud computing and 5G, I spoke with John Lenns, VP of Product Management, Oracle.

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What’s your sense of the overall 5G market right now?

Lenns: “So with respect to what the communication service providers are doing, they’re going through phases of 5G investment for their networks.

“The first phase is what’s happening now, which is the early adopters are investing in the 5G radio. The 5G RAN. That’s step one, you need the RAN to start your network evolution. And… So that’s underway. And a number of operators, early adopters in North America, in Europe, in JPAC are underway with that investment. The next step in the evolution process is for the operators to deploy what’s called non-standalone architecture, NSA.

“What that is, it’s a standardized definition by the 3GPP industry body, and it says, “You take your 5G Radio Access Network and you operate it with your 4G core network.”

“So they keep their 4G core network in place, make some enhancements to it, and that 4G network can serve both the 4G RAN and the 5G RAN.

Because, certainly, 4G and 5G are going be co-existing for quite a while now.

Lenns: “It will be, they will be. It’s a very much an evolutionary approach, not a cutover.

“And so they’re in that phase of deploying non-standalone architecture. The next step in the evolution to 5G is the deployment of what’s called standalone architecture, where you have the 5G RAN and now a 5G core network. And that is in its… It’s in its infancy. The early adopter customers in North America, JPAC, Europe, they’re issuing RFPs. And the suppliers are responding to those RFIs and RFPs to compete for that standalone architecture deployment.

“That’s just on its uptick. There are a couple of leaders out there that are through their first round of RFP and they’re starting to build those standalone architecture networks for launch later this year, early next year. But that’s really the leaders. Then there’d be the fast followers, the next tier down of operators, and then eventually the mass market.

“Through 2021 will be the rest of the early adopters and the fast followers, and then into 2022 and beyond will be more of the mass market ramp-up.

Do you anticipate the current COVID situation impacting the nature of the 5G ramp-up, or not necessarily?

Lenns: “That’s an interesting question, I think people in the industry are still trying to figure out what the impact will be. I think, as we all assess the macroeconomic impact of the COVID economic shutdowns and pauses, I think on the other end of it we’ll get a better assessment. What I can tell you, because I see it… We’re in the front lines of the RFPs – it has not slowed down the RFIs and RFPs from the early adopters.

“They’re pushing ahead. We and our competitors are competing for the business. We’re in lab trials, we’re in early build-out preparations, so those early adopters who started before the COVID impact, they’re pressing. They’re pressing forward.”

So what are your thoughts about cloud computing and how it’s impacted by 5G technology?

Lenns: “The communication service providers traditionally had been on bare metal deployments, then they evolved to deploy… Even today are deploying in the virtual environment, container-based solution. The next generation of standalone architecture technology, the request is for that to be deployed in a cloud-native environment. So Oracle Communications and our competitors are developing network functions for the 5G core that are cloud-native in their design.

“That means microservice-based architectures that are scalable and are ready for deployment into that cloud-native architecture of the operators for the 5G standalone architecture. So the requests from these early adopters is to have cloud-native architecture at the get-go, and so I think as you see the standalone architecture get deployed you’ll see networks being comprised of network functions designed in a cloud-native microservice based design.

“So the interesting benefits of cloud architecture on 5G, it’s really going to be, it’s almost a reverse. The cloud-native architecture is going to enable things in the 5G network that were more of a challenge in the earlier generation networks. 5G is gonna be based on these cloud-native architectures, there’s some fundamentals of those architecture designs that are gonna bring benefit.

“For example, the microservice architecture is going to enable developers of those functions to deploy in a more agile manner. So that means a more of a continuous development, continuous integration approach to adding functionality to the networks. Those architectures are gonna have integrated built-in automated test so the operators won’t have this long drawn out manual test and regression test procedure to deploy new functions.

“It’s also gonna enable more of a automatic upgrade. So where network upgrades may have taken six months or more to take place you’ll see a much more rapid ability to upgrade functionality into the operators networks. What’s also gonna be possible now with the microservice architecture is more of a self-healing more self-adaptive network behavior so that as operators need to optimize their resources for a particular region or a particular use case or a particular customer experience based on that use case the microservice architecture will be able to provide that in a more agile more a smooth fashion.

“So it just leads to more dynamic behavior of the network, an easier deployment, a less expensive operational model. And I think it’s going to enable the operators to add more new features and new use cases in a more rapid fashion, that’s what the end customer will see. Behind the scenes, all of that what I explained happens but what the end customer will see is a more rapid pace of introducing new offerings to the end customer. Whether the end customer is a consumer with a device or an enterprise. So I think that’s the… That’ll be the impact of this new architecture.”

What about 5G and security in terms of the vertically-enabled industries?

Lenns: “That’s a very important question and it’s really going to be, security is even ever more important even in 5G. It’s important today, it’s important today to protect the operator’s networks from threats but it’s gonna become even more important as the new use cases are supported by 5G.

“What do I mean by that? You know, it’s gonna be as important to protect our communications for devices like this, it’s going to be now ever more important to protect the network itself from unauthorized access from bad elements trying to attack the network and it’s going to be ever more important to protect the new kinds of devices that will be served by the 5G network.

“Those devices that are not human-based, those devices that are robotic in nature, automatic self-driving vehicles, automatic life support systems, you don’t and you can’t tolerate attacks for not just the human devices but the automated devices that will be enabled by the 5G network.

“So security is gonna be so important to protect the viability of the network and the end user device behaviours and the IoT device behaviors themselves.

“So there are a number of ways into a network, in through the network itself. Networks are pretty well protected by firewalls in the CSPs environment, but portions of the network that will be available from the cloud will have to be protected with that same robustness. But also protection from attacks through applications that would be servicing those new types of devices.

“So the network has to become aware of that bad behavior and very rapidly detect it and very rapidly adjust to protect itself and protect the devices themselves. It’s gonna get very sophisticated very fast. And this is why many of the operators and the governments are imposing very strict security requirements on these new 5G technologies. Especially in the core of the network. The core of the network, it’s interesting.

As 5G evolves, how will the new competition emerge from communication service providers?

Lenns: “So communication service providers are your mobile operators around the world: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, China Mobile.

“And so they’re going to leverage the 5G technology to service multiple markets, they’re gonna continue to service their consumers you and I with our handsets but they’re also going to…increase their service to a new type of customer, their enterprise customers.

“Offering services to different industry vertical enterprises. So you could have a communication service provider taking a network slice of 5G and combining that with some industry vertical applications, with an IoT platform and they can target an offering to a hospitality industry or target an offering to a enterprise in the construction industry or in the utility industry.

“And so, 5G and its enhanced bandwidth is going to enable those a more robust set of offerings to those enterprises. So they’ll, the communication service providers will be offering that and they will have their traditional competition, their traditional fellow communication service provider competitions.

“But what is going to emerge what I believe is going to emerge in the enterprise side where you have the ability to service an enterprise with a on-campus, intra-campus or inter-campus private radio deployment is you will have an emerging set of competitors who are maybe Cloud-based. They partner up with a private radio technology or they acquire that private radio technology for deployment in a enterprise’s campus or inter-campus, and then those new competitors that are Cloud-based with the applications and the private radio technology for that segment of the business that the CSPs are chasing, they could be viable competitors.

“And I think the CSPs are aware of it, and I think they’re preparing, I think they’re preparing for that and they recognize the need to evolve their business models beyond the traditional consumer space and be competitive in that new space and be ready for the new competition.

“You could service international campuses with using the CSP network as a backhaul but that point of presence on the campus or inter-campuses or a face to the enterprise no doubt about it, the CSPs are going to build that business, and they’re gonna do a good job building that business but there will be new competition so the CSPs are going to not only have to evolve the technology but build up that new business model to be very agile very enterprise-facing, enterprise-centric and they will figure it out.

“So it’s gonna be a real interesting dynamic to see in that enterprise space, the new field of competition ranging from the CSPs to these new Cloud-native entrants.

A closing thought about the future of 5G, what do you think?

Lenns: “So really exciting, what we said in maybe 18 months ago, what we thought was gonna happen is coming to be. There were those doubters 18 months ago that were saying, “Oh, it’s just another fad. It’s gonna move on, it’s not gonna get traction.” But I think we’re seeing real activity now, in the RAN spend.

“We’re seeing real early adopter movement on the core and we’re seeing you can see in the press these acquisitions going on by these cloud companies. You could see real money being spent, the ramp is starting to happen and so that means it’s grabbing hold. And you read in the press about the emerging devices that will support 5G. So it’s a real movement in the market and it is really exciting. We are on the forefront. Make no mistake about it.”

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