Three Keys to 5G Network Agility

Expectations are that 5G networks are going to rapidly expand over the next five years...
software to take over the more repetitive tasks and freeing engineers up to focus on innovation and the end user’s overall experience. In addition, using the automation framework at all phases of the network lifecycle, operators supercharge end-to-end active test data with input from third-party tools or various network functions, allowing for much faster troubleshooting of multi-vendor networks and complex service issues.

The essential role of CI/CD

CI/CD and automation processes are making their way into network operations and service deployment. When planning an automated testing strategy, it is crucial to determine whether it is a standalone solution or if it must be integrated into larger automation processes, such as continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines. Such pipelines will be critical in ensuring that 5G achieves its full potential. Unlike previous generations of mobile networks, the 5G core is designed on a modular architecture. It employs cloud-native technologies to serve a wide range of use cases, where slices lodge network functions composed of a range of microservices running in a common shared data environment. See Figure 1, below. 

Figure 1: Integration into larger automation processes
click to enlarge

As 5G networks transform over the course of time, operators will need to develop, deploy, and upgrade new network functions in an agile, predictable, and reliable manner. CI/CD will allow 5G operators to make very granular changes rapidly and repeatably, with automatic scaling in and scaling out, as well as the ability to decommission a previous slice while using the new version in their environment.

Selecting an adaptable automation framework is fundamental to an operator’s environment, as it renders the capacity to orchestrate and interoperate with CI/CD tools such as Jenkins, CircleCI, AWS CodeBuild, Azure DevOps, analytics, or data feed tools like Splunk or Kafka, and even communication tools like Slack. Moreover, an automation framework that uses RESTful API adds a continuous testing component, which allows users to automate the system and extract data generated from periodic tests and automation tasks, ensuring that tasks are not broken whenever new changes are incorporated, for instance after a software upgrade.

Advanced testing and monitoring

Expectations are that 5G networks are going to rapidly expand over the next five years, accounting for up to 1.4 billion connections by 2025, according to the GSMA. This is going to pave the way for faster speeds and innovative new services and use


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