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From automobiles to automating your 5G core

We’ve both been in shipyards, Dan with his sailboat and Ed with the US Navy. Shipyards are an unending beehive of activity, with vehicles constantly moving in an intricate dance to get where they are going while avoiding hazards. Whether in a shipyard, warehouse, factory, or on busy streets and highways, it is clear that vehicles’ connected, cooperative and automated mobility (CCAM) using 5G is attracting keen interest.

This is because of the many benefits connected vehicles bring - reduced injuries and fatalities, more comfortable driving, lower transportation costs, productivity boosts and new business applications that help companies deliver more efficiently.

Automation is needed

When most people consider connected vehicles, they immediately think the needed infrastructure is composed of the 5G RAN and the connected vehicles’ enabling onboard systems. Of course, these are important aspects of truly delivering a connected vehicle service. But connected vehicles rely on low latency and ultra-reliability offered by the whole end-to-end 5G network, where you might be surprised to learn that the 5G core is also a key enabler. That is because it moves some core functions to the edge cloud, enables the core to scale as needed for connected vehicles’ highly varying traffic mixture, and enables complete end-to-end slicing all the way from device, through the 5G RAN, the transport network, the 5G core, and onwards to the automotive cloud controlling application.

So the 5G core needs to be cloud-native, composed of stateless microservices that are readily deployed in containers, exposed through APIs, and deployable into any cloud. It is because of the cloud-native software that the 5G core can be deployed anywhere (central or edge, private or public cloud), readily scale to match varying demands, and be automated for operations.

In the case of connected vehicles, the distributed core will be continually reconfigured to suit the vehicles’ variable traffic patterns, while it will also be sliced to improve security and allow customized service level agreements.

This demands that the core be automated to achieve:

  • Higher operational efficiency and rapid service delivery, ensuring services are delivered economically to industries and consumers
  • Fast scaling to serve usage patterns that continually shift geographically, demanding a distributed, configurable user plane
  • Simplified network slicing, so that operations are fast and efficient
  • Easier software updates to provide new or updated capabilities.

Legacy core networks were configured and maintained by traditional methods developed for proprietary hardware and software, and their operations required many manual methods. These methods cannot support the business and complexity of a 5G network, nor the performance and capacity required by connected vehicles.

Automation is fast becoming the deciding factor in the core network’s configuration and where applications are placed. It is also essential to achieve rapid recovery from network anomalies, as well as to allow real-time decisions that improve operational efficiency. Building on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and cloud-native software, the next step is data-driven operational automation.

Data-driven operational automation

Network operations need to become highly automated with two primary zones - a human zone that defines the data, artifacts and policies for how the network should operate, and an automation zone that consumes the data, artifacts and policies defined in the human zone. This will eliminate the need for traditional manual operating procedures and hand-offs from one organization to another. Operations that traditionally took months will instead take only hours or minutes. Nokia is implementing this level of change in its cloud-native software.

data-driven operational automation

Our 5G core, including automation, is central to getting connected vehicles riding the 5G highway – bringing benefits to people, industry and society, as well as new revenue streams for service providers.

We invite you to explore our 5G Core and see it demonstrated at our booth (#3A10) at Mobile World Congress Barcelona.

Visit our new website for more information about extraordinary 5G connected vehicle experiences.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #IoT

Dan Johnson

About Dan Johnson

Dan leads portfolio evolution for Nokia Software Core and enjoys working with customers and industry experts on emerging technologies to determine how they can be used to create new services or simplify existing services. He holds a Master Degree in Software Engineering and a Master Degree in Business Administration.

Tweet me at @danrjohn

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