Episode 3: The flesh service — Not a dumb pipe anymore
What is NaaS(Network as a Service)?
From 1G to 5G, telecommunication has undergone three major transitions: 1G, 2G to 3G, the service transited from voice, SMS to mobile Internet; 3G to 4G, the service transited from mobile Internet to mobile broadband. The previous two transitions are internal changes in the telecom industry. The third transition brought by 5G today will be more likely a comprehensive innovation, as telecommunication will transform from standardized, long-process, and isolated services to customized, fast, and end-to-end services.
We can say that NaaS truly become a reality starting from the 5G era; this is because the disruptive architecture and performance of 5G can be integrated and coordinated with other new technologies and support the entire telecommunication network to meet the needs of multiple scenarios in one-stop shopping.
What are the differences in NaaS?
First of all, the service content has changed from limited communication services to various functions for the entire network.
Before 5G, mobile networks mainly provide voice, message, and data traffic to end consumers. In the 5G era, due to the introduction of NFV, SDN, and cloud-native technologies, network pipeline, computing, and storage can be accessible and flexible.
Telecommunications functions have become VNF as microservice in the cloud, which lead to other non-telecommunications functions also become open network services. This is what we can describe as cloudification of the network.
AI, IoT, big data and edge computing, etc. which are closely coordinated with network infrastructure will also become part of network services.
Second, the service consumer extends from mass users to everything.
In the 5G era, due to the network’s inherent openness, its services’ scope has been greatly expanded. Such as “5G+ Robot”, “5G+ Drone”, “5G+VR/AR”, “5G+HD Video”, those will form a prosperous and symbiotic “5G+” ecosystem, and finally empower all industries instead as traditional service which target mass users.
Finally, the service experience has been greatly improved.
Innovation usually been compromised for the sake of security and stability, it’s also true in telecom industry.
The lack of software and cloud capabilities in traditional networks lead to a long period for businesses to go online from day one. Besides, traditional infrastructure relies more on vertical hierarchy to ensure interoperability and consistency while limiting the network’s flexibility and customization.
In the 5G era, network services can be quickly launched, expanded, and upgraded according to needs. With multi-domain(RAN-Transport-Core) visibilities, the network will react or proactive basing on consumption behavior, just as other services. Imagine a network that can automatically scale out more content work nodes when people wake up and browse all news while making coffee and expend more IoT data planes when cars hit the road.
There are four cloudification stages: DevOps, cloud computing, cloud infrastructure, and cloud data lake.
In the 5G era, cloud computing will become the main entrance of services.
The cloud infrastructure will be based on two tiers: the center and edge. The center tier includes the telecom cloud that provides communication and broadband services for mass users and the hybrid cloud, helping enterprise customers for digital transformation. It is more likely to integrate with different cloud resources at the edge tier and provide differentiated services for vertical industries. In other words, the edge will become an application stack based on business cases.
To create a one-stop cloud-network service, building flexible infrastructure, introducing intelligent orchestration, and deeply integrating with cloud-native applications are necessary.
Therefore, this cloud-native network would understand business, i.e., both cloud resources and network resources can perceive business changes and achieve overall service improvement through intelligent orchestration and end-to-end scheduling.
Ending a story is not my expertise, so let me make an analogy this time…
5G and cloud-native are more like a perfect couple. It’s not a one-direction beneficial relationship; 5 G will also boost and support cloud computing in many ways. They will forge a brand new baby that is growing and unfolding every day.