Deploy a Next-Gen Network to Deliver Private LTE, 5G and Edge Services
A converged edge solution is a repeatable, scalable approach to 5G that creates a platform for enterprises to more quickly consume technologies and services brought to market by service providers.
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Digital transformation initiatives across all sectors of the economy are leading to an unprecedented uptick in data — both from a creation and consumption standpoint — that is leading to a massive strain on service provider networks.
In turn, service providers are rearchitecting their network architecture to handle this new wave of customer demand.
One of the promises of 5G — along with ushering in a tidal wave of next-gen applications and services such as virtual reality, self-driving cars and the like — is its ability to deliver a more agile network that enterprises can leverage to harness data as they seek to be more digitally-savvy. It does this by deploying computing power as close to the device or machine creating the data as possible, otherwise known as mobile edge computing.
But neither 5G nor the network edge are standalone technologies. They are a set of technologies that must work together to provide the high bandwidth and low latency connectivity that will drive new sets of innovative services and applications for businesses and consumers alike.
To scale the network, many of those technologies are virtualized and containerized to run on generic x86 infrastructure. Put another way, 5G will take service providers from vertically integrated platforms to virtualized, multi-vendor disaggregated ones.
Because 5G services will be delivered via disaggregated and virtualized platforms, integration becomes paramount to success. But this puts a heavy burden on network operators, who have become accustomed to the proprietary, vertically-integrated approach.
Integration, too, has its challenges:
- It leaves a lot of decision making up to the carrier regarding hardware, networking and infrastructure.
- Challenges network operators to be more of a software company than a network that runs systems.
- Breaks apart service providers’ ability to have a single point of contact when it comes to troubleshooting and fixes.
To solve these challenges, systems integrators can help service providers select the components for their 5G services platform, validate they interoperate as intended and deploy the platform at scale.
Enterprises are increasingly looking to the network edge to enable speed and agility. By 2025, more than half of new infrastructure will be deployed in edge locations, IDC Senior Research Director Bruno Teyton told Light Reading.
Service providers need to react accordingly and begin building out converged infrastructure at edge locations to align with the long-term goals of their end customers.
Converged infrastructure groups multiple IT components — servers, storage, networking infrastructure, infrastructure management software, automation and orchestration — into one optimized package. The goal is to centralize the management of infrastructure resources, consolidate systems, lower costs and increase resource-utilization rates, consistency and availability.
In a 5G sense, a converged edge solution can relieve carriers of the burden of being more like a software company by providing an integrated approach that makes 5G infrastructure easier to rollout and more simple to consume for enterprise customers.
What is the converged edge?
The converged edge will play a key role in a service provider’s overall 5G strategy by delivering services and connectivity in support of specific industry verticals. Better yet, it’s doing so with a common infrastructure that makes the management of the platform and the services delivered by it less complex.
Think of a converged edge solution as a multi-purpose platform in a single box — a containerized approach that makes it simpler to deploy:
- A platform to deliver MEC applications for enterprise industry verticals.
- Enterprise connectivity via Private LTE.
- An NFVI platform to deliver virtualized services to the enterprise.
In short, the platform offers a repeatable, scalable approach to 5G for enterprises to more quickly consume technologies.
At VMWorld 2020, WWT and VMware introduced our Converged Edge Platform (CEP) blueprint that service providers can use to rapidly deploy the solution at scale and more quickly reap the rewards of 5G and the edge.
WWT’s Converged Edge Platform presents a reference architecture with hardware and software optimizations pre-validated in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC) to create deployment-specific builds. We have also considered the need for use case validation, supporting both production functionality and analytical modeling, and provide a process for testing and iteration.
Where is the converged edge?
Service providers have long used large cloud data centers that aggregate central and regional core sites to deploy network services. In a 5G world, they’ll have to leverage edge network sites to deliver the low latency required to support next-gen applications such as self-driving cars, augmented reality and more.
The Converged Edge Platform sits at these edge sites — either on-premise (private networks) or within the service provider edge (telco edge).
How will the converged edge be deployed?
Because the Converged Edge Platform will be deployed both in the enterprise and in the operator’s network, WWT is creating two integration and deployment approaches.
- A shared infrastructure option, which is more suitable the enterprise edge, runs all of the services on top of the same server in a smaller footprint.
- And a dedicated infrastructure option, which is more suitable for the telco edge, runs on the same architecture but splits out mobile edge computing into one pod and core mobility into another.
What are the use cases for the converged edge?
Edge is a $17 billion market opportunity for service providers. More than half of that market resides within user-facing application and service platforms. However, just 6 percent of enterprise IT decision makers consider service providers experts in the edge space.
To combat this, service providers need to effectively use their networks to tap into the value being created at the edge by quickly bringing new edge-enabled applications to market. They can do this by:
- Understanding which industries are most amenable to leveraging edge to better deliver value internally and externally.
- Identifying key use cases in those industries and the related applications that are most likely to gain market traction.
- Deploying these vertical-specific solutions at scale to drive new revenue streams.
Private networks will be a key enabler for service providers to deliver enterprise customer services and for businesses to develop differentiated models that accelerate digital transformation.
With Private LTE, organizations can deploy a wholly owned and operated cellular network that is fast, efficient, reliable and secure.
Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) will lower the barrier of entry for digital leaders in all industry verticals to deploy private LTE networks — or eventually 5G networks — to increase in-building capacity, provide a better experience over Wi-Fi and begin to leverage the edge-enabled applications that will be demanded by enterprise customers.
Examples of use cases for private LTE networks include:
- Automation & Industry 4.0:
- Factory-floor robotics (e.g., wireless robotics)
- Logistics and warehousing (e.g., pick-and-pack machines)
- Mission-Critical Services
- Monitor and control critical infrastructure (e.g., electricity distribution grids, power plants, etc.)
- Public safety agencies often need ad hoc closed user group networks at emergency scenes
- Government and military agencies want dedicated, highly available networks at their facilities
- Venue Services
- Public venues (e.g., airports, stadiums, hospitals, ports, etc.) have many users with requirements for fast, highly secure access
Virtualized Services running on an NFV infrastructure platform
Software-defined virtual networks simplify architectures and can help transform service providers’ business models as we head into a new generation of connectivity.
Effectively deploying virtual network functions on top of NFV infrastructure (NFVI) will help service providers keep up with the pace of change in today’s competitive industrial landscape.
Behind the agility of NFV is complex technology requiring interoperability expertise in infrastructure, orchestration, applications, virtualization and automation.
We've streamlined the NFV validation process by accelerating service providers' ability to bring new services to market by incorporating the latest industry tools for qualifying, testing and running a complete NFV solution into WWT’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC).
WWT's Virtual Central Office (VCO) solution is a good example of a virtualized service that can run on top of the Converged Edge Platform. VCO provides a blueprint for modernizing service provider operations at the network edge via an open, software-defined infrastructure platform. It enables service providers to quickly and seamlessly deploy new capabilities for low latency and high-bandwidth application services.
The VCO solution hosted in our ATC delivers a 4G LTE mobile broadband internet service based on the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture.
Deploy at scale to speed time to market
Operators must deploy the infrastructure necessary to support new products and services in order to create revenue-generating solutions. However, most service providers need help accelerating the integration and adoption of these solutions to maximize ROI.
To bridge this gap, WWT has introduced our Next-Generation Factory enablement model to accelerate time to revenue by first validating complex, multi-vendor solutions with speed in our ATC, then integrating them at scale in one of our global integration facilities.
Successfully deploying integrated solutions like the Converged Edge Platform requires an ability to quickly validate multi-vendor architectures and deploy them at scale.
To succeed, edge architectures must be easy to consume — for both service providers and their end customers.
The Converged Edge Platform is an edge platform capable of delivering connectivity via Private LTE, mobile edge computing and virtualized network services. This lets operators to realize the value of the edge in the short term while enabling a more agile service creation platform that allows for new revenue-generating services to be deployed via software as opposed to full-fledged infrastructure deployment.
Using this approach, service providers can cut next-gen network deployment time from several years to a few months and accelerate their time to revenue.