Can 5G network castles be built on Cloud-Native Architectures?

Telecom Tech Outlook | Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Telecom operators are working day-in and out to materialize the expectations of renewed services and revenue streams that 5G claims to uplift. But, with time passing, the question remains unsolved. Can 5G network architectures be built to deliver the promised features?

FREMONT, CA: Telecom operators have continuously extolled the theoretical expectations of renewed services and revenue streams that 5G claims to uplift. As the technology nears it concrete reality, the telecom network operators have one primary question to solve. Can 5G network architectures be built to deliver the promised features?

The design of the 5G network requires numerous considerations such as the ability to scale and deploy functions quickly, the orchestration feature that enables automated lifecycle management, and service components that support microservices. 

By adopting cloud-native architectures for building a 5G network, greater part of the implementation is simplified. The technology mainly dwells around containerization, dynamic orchestration, and microservices. In today's ever-changing environment, the operators need to consider the overall expenditure. With millions already invested in infrastructure upgrade, an expensive redesign, code, and test of new network architecture is almost prohibited. A cloud-native architecture design, if considered, will help operators considerably decrease the costs of the build.

A fair share of advantages and challenges are presented with the adoption of cloud-native architectures for 5G deployment. The most complex argument in this scenario is the use of Virtual machine (VM) or Container networking. But, in most cases, the use of VM trumps container networking as the use of containers in the telecom environment fails to serve some of the most critical purposes. Container technology leaves gaps which the VMs can fill, and by default, making it the technology for building networks. 

Another complication in the container environments is the necessity of orchestrational microservices. Microservices architecture develops a holistic application that is made up of several small services that run its process independently and interact with lightweight mechanisms. Micro services are built around business capacities and are deployed independently with the help of fully-automated machinery. This is designed as one of the extensions of the service-oriented architecture (SOA) approach.

Pros and Cons of Micro servicing:

"Will the vendors adopt micro services architecture for service decomposition and replacement, especially when it is known to depend on open interfaces more often than not?" A popular question among the operators while considering the necessity of microservices architecture. This doubt is fuelled mainly by the high degree of orchestration that is necessary for the approach. Microservices architecture is incorporated only by those telecom operators who need to build, deploy, and scale frequently. The functions designed from the foundation of a microservice include innovative features that are necessary for a new telecom service environment. But several aspects of microservices can turn out to be counterproductive, as 5G services and applications fail to function due to the problems with the latency.

The understanding of implications in different system pathways draws a clear picture of the technical and innovation options necessary to determine the best approach. It is crucial to take into account the time duration and investments needed for decomposing the existing applications to fit into containers.

Even though the telecom operators are fully prepared to commence work on 5G deployment, the technology is yet to showcase its capacities for the same. There exist several foundational issues that need to be addressed to ensure that networks provide the speed, latency, and dependability that 5G services demand. The most pragmatic path forward for the telecom operators would be to generally follow the hybrid approach that is true in technology, to develop the 5G networks.