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Building the foundation for 5G data management

November 26, 2020 - Sara Philpott

Sara Philpott, Openet Data Product Lead, discusses 6 data management building blocks that provide the foundation for 5G and manage 4G.

Most people connected to the telco buzz are all well familiar by now of the merits of 5G technology. Greater speed (100 times faster than 4G), lower latency (<1ms instead of 20ms), connectivity (100-fold increase in support devices per km) and energy efficiency, to mention some.  We all know that 5G offers huge opportunities for operators however there needs to be a roadmap which not only capitalises on 5G but also caters for the requirements of existing 4G and 3G services.

For data management this involves operators focussing on 6 key data management building blocks that will deal with current business as well as provide a foundation for 5G. These are:

  1. Control and Service Integrity: Managing the continuous flux of change while ensuring service integrity will be a major challenge. The transitioning architectural changes (4G to 5G) will offer up problems of service continuity, mapping processes and stitching services together. While these challenges are not insurmountable, the fluidity of the network and speed of service introduction will necessitate a higher level of intelligence and faster response. The Ability to audit data, as events happen, will be necessary to maintain SLAs, reconcile processes and identify anomalies.
  2. Using Data to Deliver Insight: It’s not about gathering volumes of big data anymore. Operators are beginning to understand the ability to filter out key data in the continuous processing flows, identified as critical to delivering bottom line impact, will set them apart. Speed to observe and respond has never been more important. Filtering of key datasets to support specific analysis or action, as events happen and stream processing will play a critical part in data refinement for insight.
  3. Quality: Measuring and validating Quality of Experience (QoE) is possibly the single most important imperative for 5G Service Monetisation. Delay-critical services are highly dependent on the 5G network quality of service and the management of network slices. Quality of Experience is becoming the number one priority for many operators transitioning to 5G as it is considered as the key differentiator for consumers with high expectations of service.  The justification for 5G premium service pricing will rest on Operators ability to validate differing QoE per service and application. Data management will play an important role in validating the service experience aligns with subscription premium, as events happen in the network.
  4. Investment: Before signing the cheque on new network components, Operators must also weigh the return on investment of deployed infrastructure. Furthermore, business and service continuity is a key concern. As operators begin the transition to a modern technology architecture they will also look to prolong investment in certain legacy systems supporting highly tuned business processes in order to  minimize disruption to service where possible. Streaming protocol conversions enable processing of new interfaces while maintaining legacy business and operational processes
  5. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): TCO is a major consideration now for operators. In addition to meeting the volume demands expected with the explosion of new services, the ability to scale down to meet the needs of federated enterprise deployments, for example, deserves a place on the agenda. Lean and compact architectures, delivering key functionality without a massive footprint or unnecessary application overhead will deliver on TCO targets. This will become more and more essential for SaaS models and services to customers and businesses. The growth for Private Enterprise Networks (PEN) is expected to be a key commercial driver for operators once the 5G floodgates are opened. Many existing data processing platforms are clunky and require multiple applications to deliver on the end to end mediation and enrichment flow.  A lightweight solution with the ability to service multiple business applications, as well as edge processing is a much better cost efficient option.
  6. Innovation: Fragmented data from multiple sources is extremely difficult to organize. When multiple fragments of data are joined true innovation emerges. The ability to selectively filter key pieces of information and to correlate with other datasets to uncover ‘hidden’ gems of insight. Operators need a centralized, distributed real time processing platform, acting as a processing service for the business as well as refining data to enable AI tooling and ML models to perform their magic. The ability to ingest, aggregate, correlate and enrich data from multiple sources in real time provides the perfect bedrock for innovation.

5G offers tremendous opportunities for operators. However, when it comes to data management experience and planning are essential. Having the right foundation, systems and processes in place is key. With percipient and mindful planning, risk-mitigation and carefully placed steps, they can proceed on path to 5G innovation with confidence.

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