New ETSI group focuses on end-to-end network slicing

As networks become increasingly complex, operators are tapping into network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) solutions to automate network operations. As the industry looks to the commercialize of 5G networks in the coming years, the role of SDN and NFV in optimizing utilization of network and spectral resources will become increasingly important to maintaining opex while delivering high-value network experiences.

Essentially, SDN and NFV will enable what’s referred to as network slicing, which operators to run multiple virtual networks on top of a single, physical infrastructure. Think of it as automatically creating a cross-domain, bespoke data pipe that connects any device with any cloud- or network-based service in a way that makes the most efficient use of the network from RAN to core to end user.

Standards group ETSI last month created its Zero touch network and Service Management Industry Specification Group (ZSM ISG) to work on end-to-end network slicing and attendant management. According to the group, “The goal is to have all operational processes and tasks–delivery, deployment, configuration, assurance and optimization–executed automatically, ideally with 100% automation.”

Klaus Martiny of the ZSM ISG said challenges associated with network automation “need to be addressed at an industry level. A primary goal of the ZSM ISG is to identify requirements on the necessary management architecture and interfaces to support the end-to-end zero touch network and service management in a multi-vendor environment. It is important as well that existing solutions will be considered.”

NFV and SDN serve as a basis for network slicing by allowing both physical and virtual resources to be used to make certain services. The use of open protocols to decouple software from hardware and manage network behavior from a control plane will enable 5G networks to deliver different kinds of services to various customers.

And, in terms of service provider adoption of NFV and SDN solutions, expect big spending, according to a new report from SNS Research, which projects an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of about 45% over the next three years. Annual investments are anticipated to hit almost $22 billion by the end of 2020, according to the report.


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