In the coming months, communication services providers (CSPs) across the globe will be busy rolling out their 5G networks, promising data rates 100x those of 4G, network latency of under 1 millisecond, support for 1 million devices/sq. km., and 99.999% availability of the network. As a result, 5G will generate data at an unprecedented velocity and immense volume. This “fast data” will fuel a wide range of data-driven services and digital business models.

5G promises higher bandwidth leading to higher density (up to one million devices per sq. km.) and millisecond latency. This density of devices is forcing new Radio Access Network (RAN) cell technology as a result of the new use cases, services, and traffic types that 5G will introduce, particularly when it comes to configurability and flexibility. In turn, this will exponentially increase the number of database transactions per second (TPS) in order to:

  • Update the state change information for every device in the network
  • Exercise the real-time authentication and authorization policy for every new device communication

In addition, network slicing can be created for specific applications or use cases with guarantees on quality of service such as throughput and latency. It is a 5G requirement with a portion of the network dedicated for each use case, such as: Industrial IoT, Video, VR etc. Each need instantaneous decision making for load balancing and quality of service assurance for the increased number of subscribers (people + IoT devices). To demonstrate the increased TPS, let us consider the example of a typical wireless carrier: A modest sized carrier might support 10 million phones; a larger one might have 150 million. A typical wireless carrier has numerous high-volume transactional applications.

Here are a few examples:

Billing and charging: Currently, networks bill in increments of six seconds – or 10 times per minute. If the average phone has a duty cycle of 10 percent, then a small network has 6 million billing events per minute, or 100,000 per second. For larger networks, the number is much higher. Over time, the number of IoT devices is expected to at least quadruple this volume. As such, billing will be a very high TPS application with uncompromising consistency requirements at millisecond latency.

New services: IoT devices are expected to continue to enable new services in a 5G world. These will include medic alert applications that connect to emergency personnel when a human being falls or experiences a medical abnormality. With a very high concentration of subscribers in a football stadium, dynamically spinning up a geo-fenced sub-network to handle the spike in connectivity would be possible. Smart metering will enable personalized customer experience and communication, as well as facilitating the analysis of grid consumption, energy demands, and complying with new regulatory requirements. 5G will also allow continuous monitoring and predictive maintenance of IOT sensors in wind and solar farms.

5G IT requirements

Image courtesy of VoltDB.

As carriers continue scrambling to build out their 5G infrastructures, many have their eye on the bright and shiny benefits, like new 5G-powered consumer apps, promises of heightened transaction rates and a universal internet of things. However, before they can reach 5G nirvana, carriers need to take a step back and prepare for the introduction of 5G by adopting seven key IT requirements:

Cloud native: CSPs and software solution providers must be prepared to fulfill all of 5G’s fast data SLAs with one underlying data infrastructure. The only way to support the scale, elasticity, agility, responsiveness and rich software functionality required for 5G micro-services is in the cloud, without compromising data accuracy and correctness.

Consistency: With the massive increase in data volume and velocity that comes with 5G, it will be more important than ever for technologies to be ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliant, and demonstrate data consistency.

Complex event processing: As a result of the vast multitudes of streaming data generated from not only 5G-enabled applications, but also from the network, subscribers, enterprise users, network operators and call processing, it will be essential for the 5G database to scale linearly at a moment’s notice while maintaining the high performance and low latency requirements all along.

Programmability: 5G will improve upon the ability to compute aggregates on a mutating dataset. Materialized views allow the user to declaratively pre-aggregate these values whenever the base data changes. Rather than scanning billions of rows at query time and sorting them into buckets, live aggregation does a little extra work every time a row is inserted, deleted or changed, with the benefit that it can answer complex aggregation queries in less than a millisecond. 5G will further help with programmability by expanding on stored procedures to reduce both network traffic and end-to-end latency of complex processing. Lastly, 5G will increase the abilities of User-Defined functions (UDFs) in allowing users to load custom code like stored procedures, but use them inside queries. UDFs can make exiting applications simpler, or they can make new applications possible.

Throughput and Latency: The unprecedented combination of high speed and low latency 5G promises will open the floodgates on data streaming in from fixed wireless, IoT, Video on Demand, Virtual Reality, and other apps. Provisioning and completion decisions will need to scale with the new, higher data volumes that 5G enables.

Resiliency: To maintain the network availability of 99.999 percent that 5G promises, the data infrastructure powering the applications and microservices is expected to have High Availability (HA), geo-local routing across multiple geographies (XDCR), and Disaster Recovery (DR) for failover built-in. Geo-local workload routing with automatic synchronization is necessary to not incur the cost of WAN latency to a central data center.

Fundamentally different from any other network the telecommunications industry has ever seen before, 5G is marketed as the future of network communication with superiority over 4G in every perceivable way. 5G possesses astounding improvements in speed, capacity, and coverage over 4G – testing download speeds of up to 50GBps and network operation in the 24GHz and higher frequency ranges. This means ultra-high capacity with extremely low latency, and coverage range that is only limited to the provider’s capability. 5G will enable such applications which will drive transaction rates through the roof.


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