Networks Europe Jul-Aug 2019 - Page 45

5G NETWORKS 5G is officially live in major cities across the UK, including London, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow – with widespread coverage expected to accelerate through 2022. There’s no doubt that 5G will revolutionise industries across the country, not least because it offers significantly greater capacity than 4G and speeds up to 100 times faster. For businesses, it offers an attractive transport option for software-defined WANs (SD-WAN). SD-WAN is a virtual network architecture that provides enterprises with the flexibility to leverage any combination of transport services, including broadband to securely and directly connect users to applications wherever they reside. SD-WAN virtualises WAN services, including multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), broadband and 4G/LTE, treating them as a resource pool. Many enterprises turned to SD- WAN as cloud computing became the norm, realising that their conventional router centric network architectures were unable to keep up. To date, 4G has primarily been used as a backup to higher bandwidth Internet connectivity because of its relatively low capacity and high cost per bit. However, with 5G being added to the portfolio of SD-WAN transport options, and its ability to offer higher throughput rates, it will deliver a unique combination of fast deployment, diverse connectivity and high bandwidth that’s sure to accelerate the adoption of broadband SD-WANs. How 5G will benefit the enterprise 5G provides a flexible means of connecting branch offices and remote workers. It can work with video and voice data, as well as high-speed data transfer, such as large files, particularly in video streaming. 5G can be used either as a primary or secondary network transport to connect branch and remote office users to critical business applications, ensuring always-consistent, always-available application performance – even in the event of an outage or degraded service. As a wireless technology, another benefit of 5G is that organisations can gain access to Internet connectivity faster than waiting for service providers to connect conventional WAN transport services to their facilities. Time to connection capability is greatly improved, not least because it can take weeks or months to provision a fibre link, whereas 5G could bring a new site online in a matter of days. That being said, with the rollout of 5G still not being widespread, it will likely be some time before this benefit is fully realised, as the 5G connection will need to be live in certain locations. Once it is, and since 5G is a wireless technology, all that’s required is a suitable customer premise equipment device to terminate the connection. 45 Adding 5G to the transport mix The initial success of 5G deployments will ultimately demand an automated, self-driving WAN foundation with underlay intelligence that delivers the highest quality of experience for users, such as the one offered by SD-WAN. Today’s enterprises need to shift to a network model that eliminates endless hours of manual programming at the device level and embraces automation to adapt applications usage and performance needs of businesses, securely serving teams and partners that are diverse in location, function and needs. Only the best in class SD-WAN solutions will enable customers to incorporate 5G services into the WAN transport mix. Indeed, all the capabilities of the SD-WAN platform – including packet-based link bonding, dynamic path control and path conditioning can be supported across multiple transport links. Management software enables the prioritisation of 5G bandwidth usage based on branch and application requirements. This is ideal for retailers and their point of sale transactions, plus any other deployments where always-available WAN connectivity is critical for the business. Managed SD-WAN services Service providers have a vital and value-added role in the design, installation, deployment, management and ongoing monitoring of managed SD-WAN services – and this is something that enterprises often don’t appreciate until something goes awry. Indeed, service providers are already taking advantage of the distinct benefits of SD-WAN to offer managed SD-WAN services that leverage flexible and mobile 4G LTE to their customers. However, with 5G now live in major cities across the UK, this will serve to create new revenue streams for 5G-enabled managed services. For enterprises, they will not only benefit from a more flexible means of connecting remote workers and branch offices via 5G, but a managed SD-WAN service will provide far better economics and capabilities than physical connections. A future with 5G While 5G is poised to support new technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, connected cities and self-driving cars, it’s also going to revolutionise the enterprise in terms of connecting users to applications. Businesses will have high expectations for 5G and its promise to deliver always-on, high-performing network and applications. Critical to the success of 5G will be an automated, self-driving network, and advanced SD- WAN technology to benefit from the increased capacity and speed on offer. n