A conductor’s role in an orchestra is to direct musical performances, setting the tempo, and directing the ensemble. That's very similar to the role of IT professionals as 5G networks are increasingly used by enterprises around the world. The IT community is the beating heart of modern enterprises, and they are spearheading the transformation of network and service operations into the 5G era, which is no straightforward task. Why? Because the task involves changes in processes, technology, and architecture.
A conductor is required to manage a large group of musicians, playing different instruments in a variety of notes and speeds. The best in the world do so by meticulous planning, taking each harmony step by step, and that’s exactly what needs to be replicated when it comes to embracing 5G for enterprises.
The industry is facing a once in a lifetime opportunity; 5G will transform networks from a best effort consumer service engine to a predictable connectivity hub for any kind of use case in any industry by meeting the most stringent and diverse requirements, through network slices. IT communities in businesses around the world are now tasked with taking advantage of 5G, to create better services for customers, realize efficiencies in operations and ultimate help boost their bottom lines. But easier said than done, right?
From the perspective of a modern enterprise, the key focus as 5G rolls out across the world will be to ensure a seamless transition to this new generation technology. Transitions can be disruptive, so careful planning of 5G implementation is critical. This is where the role of being the conductor will be so essential to the success of the transition. In addition, these new-born conductors will also need to act as the 5G advocates and coaches in their business. They will find themselves playing the role of consultants to their colleagues, demonstrating how 5G can transform processes in offices and factories and what the significant benefits are. It will be their responsibility to show how 5G simplifies operations and creates a competitive advantage over rivals.
In many cases, while performing the role of a conductor, coach, and consultant, IT managers will need to build applications that enable 5G to be utilized effectively, such as applications for industrial automation control over the wireless remote steering of vehicles in logistics and mining or Virtual Reality based maintenance. Once the applications are designed and implemented, they will, of course, require close monitoring of their performance and continuous optimization, improvement, and enhancement. This will be the orchestral duty of IT managers who will need to have good working relationships with CSPs, ensuring they have the right part of the network to fulfill the potential of their new 5G enables devices or services.
Network slicing – your new best friend
This careful selection of a part or “slice” of the network must be a key priority. For the enterprise, enhanced services or products can be achieved through end-to-end network slicing, the ability to allow multiple logical networks to run on a shared network infrastructure.
Deep slicing can help enterprises substantially increase their productivity due to its ability to specifically program the network according to the requirements of a particular business use. To not do so would mean there exists only raw and basic service classes that would lead to stumbling processes within the enterprise. It’s also important to remember that latency and reliability are just two parameters among many others that define the respective slice for a particular use case.
To make this happen, a plethora of different legacy and new technology components need to collaborate, including technologies for network infrastructure, data center management, edge computing, and devices. This is the orchestra that the IT community needs to act as the conductor for bringing all components together to upgrade the infrastructure.
There are also other challenges, given the slice apportioned to one use will naturally be in competition with another slice. An example can be found again with the factory, with high-speed automated production lines that could be situated near a highway with traffic systems and slices for automated vehicles relying upon the same physical resources. Manual management and co-ordination of network slices will be practically impossible, so IT managers will need to request extreme automation from CSPs.
The IT community in enterprises around the world will be tasked with investing limited financial resources into key parts of the infrastructure to unlock the potential of 5G. This will be possible through assuming the role of the conductor and coach and ultimately ensuring strict criteria are presented to CSPs in terms of the requirement for slices of networks.
For enterprises, the 5G orchestra requires a conductor and consultant-coach like figures who can bring all critical elements of 5G migration together and bring teams up to speed on the benefits of simplification. The challenge is how to migrate to 5G without disturbing current operations. The community needs to closely understand what requirements the enterprise requires from their CSPs and effectively communicate this while managing CSPs so that the slices are performing at the required level.
It’s paramount that transformation is viewed as a step-by-step journey, not one sudden overhaul overnight. To do that, define the plan, step onto the stage, and conduct the orchestra. This will unlock new revenue streams and drastically mature services for customers – proving that the IT community is worth its weight in gold.