Every generation of mobile network has delivered its own technology advancements, perhaps none more sweeping than those associated with 5G.
This manifests in any number of specific ways one of which, self-orchestration, we’ll focus on this blog. It’s central to what makes 5G different. But what is it exactly, and what are the components required to enable it?
What is self-orchestration?
In mobile networks, self-orchestration is the ability of network elements and components to autonomously configure, optimize, and manage themselves. The great leap forward is that no human intervention is required. But among other things, this means 5G networks (and likely 6G and beyond, too), are far more complex and dynamic than their predecessors.
So what is a self-orchestrating network able to do? Quite a lot. For a start it can automate various network management tasks, for example resource allocation, configuration changes, and network optimization. Given the complexity and scale of 5G networks, this is a significant plus.
Self-orchestrating networks are also adaptable. They can react to changing conditions like variations in traffic patterns, network topology changes, and evolving performance requirements, dynamically adjusting network parameters to meet the evolving needs of users and applications. They can also make real-time decisions based on current network conditions and user demands. This reduces reliance on predefined static configurations and makes the network far more responsive.
There’s more. Self-orchestrating networks make better use of resources, utilising bandwidth, computing resources, and energy, dynamically adjusting allocations based on demand. In the process, the network becomes more efficient and cost effective. At the same time, faults and failures are detected and mitigated automatically, improving network reliability and availability. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, self-orchestration improves QoS assurance by continuously monitoring and assessing the performance of services, then adjusting the network as needed to meet service level agreements (SLAs) and user expectations.
What is required for mobile networks to self-orchestrate?
Sounds good, but what fuels the engine? From a technology perspective, what’s needed for a network to self-orchestrate? Not surprisingly, the answer is a combination of different technologies including:
Software-Defined Networking (SDN)
Probably familiar by now, SDN separates the control from the data plane in a network allowing control of resources to be centralized. This is what enables dynamic configuration and orchestration of elements based on real-time conditions.
Network Function Virtualization (NFV)
Also likely familiar, NFV virtualizes functions traditionally run on dedicated hardware. This means they can be dynamically instantiated, scaled, and migrated as required, creating a far more flexible and adaptable network.
Utilising cloud infrastructures means operators can dynamically allocate and scale resources based on demand. Cloud-native architectures, microservices, and containerization technologies are among those vital for self-orchestration.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
These technologies help to analyse the large volumes of data generated by the 5G network which can then be used for predictive analytics, anomaly detection, and decision-making. This is the backbone of being able to autonomously optimize network performance.
Open and standardized APIs facilitate communication and interoperability between different network elements, making it easier to integrate and orchestrate diverse components (perhaps from multiple vendors) within the network.
Dedicated orchestration platforms provide the framework for coordinating and automating different network functions. These platforms can utilize policies and workflows to guide the orchestration processes based on predefined rules and real-time conditions.
Policy frameworks enable the definition of rules and guidelines that govern the network’s behaviour. The policies steer the decision-making processes behind f the self-orchestration system.
And other technologies, some still emergin. Network slicing, edge computing, enhanced mobile broadband and others can all play a role in self-orchestration. Of course, we’re not done yet either Advancements in these and other new technologies will continue to shape the capabilities of self-orchestration and next generation networks generally as we move forward.
eCS can help
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