Enabling the 5G opportunity with network visibility
Matt Percival, EMEA senior director service provider at Gigamon, on why driving clear and uncompromised network visibility is fundamental for service providers to achieve success in the era of 5G
5G promises to be the most revolutionary change on the horizon for service providers. Mobile operators are investing heavily in 5G infrastructure, and the industry is working hard to firmly establish all its uses and applications. In fact, according to recent research from Nokia, one in three IT decision makers state they need to learn more about 5G before being able to harness its full power. That being said, the excitement around 5G introduction is unquestionable: not only will it take consumer experiences to a premium level, it’s also expected to open up a plethora of business benefits, too.
Like all innovations, however, 5G has its challenges. The surge in speed and data volumes is set to exacerbate network complexity, increasing the chances of performance issues and security threats. On top of this, adopting and sustaining 5G calls for significant investments which will force companies to carefully evaluate these projects. To streamline monitoring, perfect threat detection and delight customers in this new environment, network visibility is key.
Monitoring: a must-have
In order to ensure customer satisfaction, service providers aim to deliver the highest quality of service possible. Cohesive management and orchestration of mission-critical performance across geographically scattered environments is a complex business.
That’s why, to enable it, network monitoring must be baked in from the get-go and strategically planned for by service providers seeking success with 5G - its virtualised environment will make it incredibly difficult to address these elements as an afterthought. For instance, with higher speed and bandwidth, data control will be fundamental to expand and optimise the use of security tools such as intrusion prevention and web application firewalls. Service providers will also benefit from thorough visibility into how their network is used from an end-user perspective. Knowledge of application metadata and filtering intelligence can shine a light on customer preferences, enabling providers to improve service quality with the help of 5G. As crucial as this all sounds, monitoring 5G networks is no walk in the park and will come at a price.
Saving costs and maximising profits
Whilst unlocking exciting possibilities for businesses, 5G is a costly affair. According to research by Accenture, four in five service providers believe the cost of managing IT infrastructure and apps will increase by implementing 5G, and that the upfront cost of the technology will be excessive. Additionally, upgrading and maintaining the tools and probes necessary to monitor 5G network traffic will require a sizable investment, posing the dilemma of how to contain 5G’s costs while maximising its business value, to ensure it’s a profitable investment. So, how can they do so?
First off, they should leverage network visibility to help the network core keep pace with the volume and speed of data, as well as controlling CapEx costs. To enhance ROI on 5G, service providers need to improve monitoring efficiency – they can do so by distributing traffic to all existing tools (this includes redeploying 4G probes), ensuring core network performance, service quality and security.
Visibility into network traffic and usage helps gather valuable insight that can lead to greater revenue, enabling service providers to identify and focus on high-profitability accounts, enhance user experience and reduce customer churn. Visibility also helps realise profits more rapidly as it can fast-track the launch of new services, driving competitive advantage. Such close analysis of the network can also help pinpoint performance issues more quickly, reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR), enhancing network reliability and minimising support costs.
Despite the pandemic and its economic fallout, 5G rollout projects have been moving forward. The advent of flexible working, with rapidly increasing raw bandwidth requirements, is actually acting as a catalyst for innovation and leading to faster adoption. So much so that 85% of business decision makers expect to use 5G to support mobile employees within the next four years. If this year’s events haven’t slowed down the pace of change, it’s likely that 5G will take the business world by storm soon. This means organisations that want to make the most of it need to be guided to gain full visibility into their networks to connect the digitally-dependent society of the new tomorrow.