5G and IOT are ready to bring an explosion of monitored devices and data traffic. By 2022, it is estimated that data traffic will grow by 800 percent from its current levels with over 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.

This traffic growth will be achieved via a corresponding growth of a rapidly evolving and changing network with an underlying mix of different network technologies and network technology generations. For example, there will be a considerable period of hybrid networks including both Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and Physical Network Functions (PNF). These factors pose a massive challenge for effectively managing such a complex network.

The journey to 5G

We see operators speeding up their journey to 5G to offer the network capacity, quality, and functionality required to capitalize on future business opportunities: low-latency network-driven autonomous vehicles, virtual healthcare, and construction, to name a few. As the 5G journey continues, network growth and complexity continue to accelerate, with the number of network elements required to be managed set to increase exponentially.

In the 5G era and on the journey towards 5G, there is a need for a true and unified network management offering that can manage complex hybrid networks including 5G, all physical and virtual network elements, as well as VNF lifecycle management. To understand the requirements better, here are five key essentials required to win in 5G network management.

Automation

Operators must prepare for the increased size and complexity of the network in the 5G and IoT era. The amount of opex spent on incident management in a network operations center (NOC) today will increase exponentially unless much higher efficiency is attained. Each NOC engineer will soon have to manage more than 10 times more complexity than today, and this challenge must be addressed with automation.

Automation in activities such as generating actionable insights, network configuration, and ensuring network quality will be critical to ensure improved network performance and operational efficiency.

Machine learning

Machine learning is the process by which a computer-driven machine can learn pattern recognition, make predictions, and provide actionable insights through sophisticated algorithms.

It offers the opportunity to increase the level of automation in network management even further. The data already available in the network can be turned into insights on how to prioritize and fix network faults as quickly as possible. And this allow for significantly reduced investments in designing and maintaining automation solutions.

VNF management

"VNF" refers to the implementation of a network function using a virtual machine that lies on top of the underlying hardware. VNFs promise flexibility and network evolution at a speed of change that is far beyond what a human can manage. Effective lifecycle management of these VNFs is essential for comprehensive network management of a complex hybrid network that may include 3G and 4G as well as 5G.

Modularity and elasticity

Every individual network management application needs to be modular with the ability to elastically expand, contract, or instantiate to fulfill the operational and maintenance needs of the evolving and changing network and yet still provide one access point for orchestration, automation, and optimization as well as providing traditional FCAPS for all network elements and microservices.

Not only should the applications be modular but they must also adhere to unified management principles of being generic to all managed network technologies. This while also maintaining an ease of navigation between applications, and performing end-to-end use cases for the end user to manage the network complexity.

Deployment models

Depending on the operator’s needs, the network management system may need to be deployed as an integrated hardware system or as an application on the operator’s cloud. There must be flexibility and agility in the network management systems to cater to both requirements and scenarios.

Ericsson Network Manager meets all the above five key essentials for 5G network management and much more. To understand more about your network management needs, check out our network automation portfolio. Come make the 5G journey now!

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Karan Budhiraja
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Karan Budhiraja

Karan Budhiraja is the Director of Global OSS/BSS Marketing at Ericsson, and has over a decade of product marketing, business development, sales and consulting experience in the ICT industry. Karan has worked closely with global Tier-1 operators on key business opportunities such as Connected Car, Cloud Services and Unified Communications. He currently focuses on Ericsson's industry leading OSS/BSS software portfolio including Analytics, CEM, Revenue Management, Catalog, Digital Identity and Internet of Things. Karan completed his MBA in Marketing & Management from Indiana University, USA, and is also an Electronics & Communications engineer from the University of New Delhi, India.

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