Even here at the start of the 5G revolution, communication service providers (CSPs) already have their sights set on what comes next. For tomorrow’s 5G networks and services, the possibilities seem limitless: network slices tuned to the applications running on them, ultra-low-latency consumer and business experiences, mass-scale IoT installations, and much more. CSPs are on their way to delivering these 5G experiences, but there is work to do still to fully realize their visions.
While every approach to realize the full benefits of 5G will be different and there are many moving pieces to support the 5G transformation, there are some common core ingredients needed: cloud-native technology and cloud-first automation. The good news is after years of transformation experience, we know the best way to implement those core ingredients is with a common horizontal architecture that unites all clouds and multi-vendor networks within a single platform.
Today, CSPs around the globe are working with VMware to put this strategy into practice. As they do, they’re accelerating their 5G rollouts, lowering costs, and streamlining operations. And they’re transforming their organizations into more agile and competitive businesses.
What’s Holding Back 5G Evolution?
As much promise as it holds, 5G also adds new challenges to an already difficult technical and economic landscape. CSP organizations routinely struggle with rising costs and complexity, with most network resources locked into rigid, vertically integrated technology stacks. These stacks—and the operations supporting them—exist in silos, impeding the end-to-end visibility needed for customized network slices and automated services.
It’s a less-than-ideal foundation for tomorrow’s agile, dynamic 5G infrastructures. And building the cloud-native architectures and cloud-first automation needed to unlock 5G can seem like a daunting journey. The to-do list includes breaking down monolithic software stacks, opening the environment up to new vendors, replacing hardware-centric models with software-defined operations, and more.
At the same time, the benefits are too great to ignore: A chance to build new relationships with enterprise customers and diverse partner ecosystems. An opportunity to recenter CSPs in the digital value chain, instead of ceding mindshare and revenues to cloud and over-the-top players. And of course, the projected $249 billion market for 5G services by 2026.
Many CSPs are well on their way to transforming their environments to support next generation 5G services. It’s not a matter of if, but of how—and how quickly.
The Solution: Unify Networks and Clouds on a Common Horizontal Platform
Today, VMware is helping operators around the world implement cloud-native technology and cloud-first automation across their distributed networks. Using VMware Telco Cloud for 5G, our customers are executing a tactical approach to designing and operating services across heterogeneous infrastructure, while supporting interoperability with diverse vendors and clouds. And it all starts with a single, powerful idea: a common horizontal architecture that extends across all networks, vendors, and clouds.
By embracing this horizontal platform approach, operators can avoid creating new network silos when building out 5G. At the same time, they gain a simplified, consistent overlay across their complex heterogeneous environments, making them much easier to manage, scale, and secure.
What can operators do with this flexible multi-cloud platform? They can optimize practically every aspect of deploying and operating their 5G networks:
- Design: CSPs have spent too long letting vendors dictate the timing and capabilities of their services. With an agile, cloud-native platform, they gain the flexibility to quickly design, develop, and customize new services. That includes assembling custom solutions from hundreds of best-of-breed virtualized and containerized third-party network functions, all certified and ready-to-deploy on VMware’s Telco Cloud Platform. And it means using modern CI/CD pipelines and DevOps approaches to quickly, continually bring new innovations to customers.
- Deploy: The cloud-first automation at the heart of VMware Telco Cloud empowers operators to deploy new infrastructure and services at thousands of distributed locations, while minimizing costs. CSPs can now use predefined templates and zero-touch provisioning to quickly deploy new network functions and new services anywhere. They can draw on a common virtualization layer to apply consistent security policies across all sites. And they can continually deploy innovative new capabilities at the edge, while managing everything centrally.
- Operate: Using a shared platform that abstracts the underlying hardware to create a common pool of storage and network resources simplifies complexities of transforming CSP architectures and reduces operating costs. Now, operators can use the same consistent tools and processes for things like patching, monitoring, alarm and fault handling, and troubleshooting—even across a heterogeneous multivendor environment. And it becomes much easier to automate the lifecycle management of infrastructure, Kubernetes clusters, network functions, and 5G services.
- Optimize: The same shared horizontal platform also makes it easier to continually optimize CSP networks and services. Drawing on machine learning and AI, operators can monitor the entire 5G environment, predict the impacts of network changes, and continually analyze and optimize the network with closed-loop operations.
The Journey to Tomorrow’s 5G Networks Starts Here
It’s true, to take full advantage of 5G innovation, CSPs will need a network and operating model that looks radically different from what’s existed in the past. But that transformation has started—and will yield immediate, concrete benefits.
With a common horizontal platform, you can lay the foundation for tomorrow’s dynamic, cloud-native 5G networks services, while lowering costs and simplifying operations. VMware can help. To learn more, download the new white paper Modernize to Monetize: Reimagine the Telco Cloud to Capitalize on 5G and visit our website.