New network architecture concepts are changing the way traditional cellular networks are deployed. A look at 5G mobile networks in particular.
With 5G networks, companies are mostly able to meet their specific business needs faster and more efficiently. End-to-end software-defined networks enable network slicing, allowing network traffic to be tailored based on specified conditions, applications, and user profiles. In a software-defined network, software is decoupled from hardware in large-scale 5G virtualization. This usually lowers the investment costs for devices and diversifies hardware procurement. This is supported by open standards for application programming interfaces between and within network domains.
The trend of replacing traditional network hardware functions with software continues. As a result, virtualization techniques are advancing to include lightweight containerized compute elements that are more resource efficient than traditional off-the-shelf virtual machines (VM). Providing the infrastructure at the edge of the network also has advantages. It enables caching close to the user. This improves latency, efficiency and supports network scalability.
How virtualization increases the value of 5G
Understanding how to enable virtualization at scale is an essential part of delivering a solution that can deliver on the promise of 5G. To improve their systems, many companies use large amounts of data collected by distributed IoT devices. However, using AI to rapidly analyze data to inform business decisions and system optimization requires speed, power, and security. 5G can deliver that.
Video communications and content—including video from industrial management, security surveillance, and traffic control systems—mean large and continuous streams of data that are relayed over wireless networks. The continued adoption of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) could also further increase data volumes in next-generation networks. All data traffic in this context requires a large, robust, secure and ultra-fast network that connects the computing capacities of devices, processors and sensors, many of which are deployed at the edge of the network. It also needs a virtualized infrastructure that is dynamic, automated, and offers flexibility, efficiency, and scalability,
With virtualization, which enables software-controlled network functions across different technologies, network resources can be allocated to specific users, applications and service categories. And all without dedicated hardware and costly, time-consuming physical customizations. Businesses can also take advantage of 5G capabilities like network slicing to overlay multiple virtual networks onto a common physical infrastructure. Network slicing will play a key role in the exploitation of new Smart City, Industry 4.0 and autonomous vehicle applications, which will vary greatly in terms of speed, latency, stability and security.
Flexibility vs Security?
Like all new architectures, large-scale 5G network virtualization brings new thinking and new opportunities. 5G virtualization is more flexible, but it can also create a larger attack surface because there are significantly more devices connected to the network. Extensive use of functions such as network slicing therefore requires new skills and expertise.
Many IoT devices and devices deployed at the network edge have inadequate built-in security features. Combine this with the variety of devices and the applications they support, and 5G security becomes complex. The new architecture doesn’t follow the familiar hardware-based hub-and-spoke model: there are no hardware throttles, which provide a useful security mechanism. And as much as software contributes to the flexibility of 5G, it also means that attackers can hack automated processes. Network virtualization can provide a security solution. It provides the end-to-end security required for 5G by being deployed virtually at every network location. And it enables fast automatic corrections,
The diverse use cases that 5G promises can be most effectively realized by redesigning network architectures while keeping end-to-end security in mind at every step. When organizations understand how to use virtualization properly, they can leverage the flexibility, openness, and responsiveness of any 5G deployment while improving overall network security.
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