Demand for 5G has never been higher, but the promise of ubiquitous high-speed wireless broadband remains unfulfilled for much of the global market. Smarter homes, buildings, stadiums, factories, cities, vehicles, and many other compelling use cases all await the arrival of the massive increases in bandwidth that only 5G can provide.

Why the delay, then, in the face of so much potential market opportunity? Because 5G requires communications service providers (CSPs) to fundamentally transform their networks far beyond installing smaller 5G antennas to meet customer and use case expectations for speed, latency, availability, reliability, and throughput.

For legacy CSPs with established 4G network investments to protect, this means managing complex, multi-vendor, multi-cloud, and multi-technology 5G environments—complete with virtualized and containerized network functions (VNFs and CNFs)—operating within a services-based architecture often layered on top of traditional 4G and 3G wireless (not to mention wired) networks.

As a result, heterogenous networks are on the rise, with incredibly complex topologies. These heterogeneous networks are often supported by equally heterogeneous staffs: technology- and vendor-specific operators and performance management tools working in silos to meet customer SLAs and ballooning customer expectations.

But customers don’t think in silos; they look at your overall service level. For the promise of 5G to become a reality, providers need a solution that can match this holistic perspective: real-time service assurance, delivered by IBM Cloud Pak® for Network Automation.

Next-generation network monitoring and management

Real-time service assurance enables network operators and engineers to cost-effectively monitor and manage the physical and virtualized networks the next generation of multi-cloud, multi-vendor, and multi-technology networks and services rely on to deliver 5G.

CSPs know the only thing worse than offering no 5G service is offering poor 5G service. Poor service means lost customers, broken contracts, and lasting damage to your brand. But 5G’s incredibly low latency and reliance on edge devices means networks are much less robust and fault-tolerant than legacy wireless. Providers must have processes, platforms, and personnel in place to respond quickly and correctly to outages, since the impact of these events can be seen and felt by 5G customers.

IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation is infused with powerful ML and AI capabilities to reduce response and resolution times and improve service levels when SLAs are on the line, and expectations are high. These algorithms accelerate the identification and root cause analysis for any network failures, improving response times.

Better still, IBM Cloud Pak® for Network Automation can begin to predict when failures might take place in the near future, based on performance thresholds set by the vendor and CSP. Providers can use these predictive maintenance models to improve service levels and reduce downtime and repair/replacement parts and technician costs.

IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation also replaces the multitude of vendor- technology- and cloud-specific metrics with a single dashboard that aligns with the CSP’s KPIs and the customer’s SLAs. By delivering “one version of the truth,” operators and engineers can stay focused on the most critical performance measurements. However, this dashboard doesn’t come ready to use out of the box—it requires deep telecom integration expertise to bring it to life.

Accelerating time to value for real-time service assurance

As a trusted integration and digital transformation partner for CSPs, Persistent Systems has successfully integrated real-time service assurance solutions like IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation for Tier 1 providers. As a result, these providers have accelerated their time to value, minimized service and business disruptions, and enabled proactive, predictive network event resolution and automation for 5G networks.

This integration effort occurs in six phases:

  1. Identify key metrics: Collect all the KPIs and metrics used across the network to determine service levels and delivery.
  2. Map the network topology: Identify all the physical and virtualized nodes, standalone and non-standalone networks, containerization platforms, orchestration services, and the like to gain a complete picture of the network.
  3. Document the event management process: How does the provider respond to the full range of events currently? Events management can’t be optimized or automated without this understanding.
  4. Deploy and integrate the service assurance solution: This effort is tightly synchronized with the business leaders, IT leaders, and key members of the userbase to ensure a seamless transition that doesn’t impact service levels and network uptime.
  5. Implement ML & AI algorithms: Once the platform is fully integrated, Persistent developers optimize the algorithms for the provider’s specific KPIs, metrics, network topology, and event management process.
  6. Provide ongoing support: Networks are incredibly dynamic environments, so Persistent works in tandem with IBM to provide ongoing support for IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation, including introducing new functionality, integrating network monitoring and new types of KPIs, and more.

5G networks are poised to usher in an explosion of truly transformative use cases and technologies, but expectations are sky high, and 5G networks are far less robust than existing 4G and 3G wireless networks.

CSPs need to proactively integrate real-time service assurance solutions to ensure they can meet the demanding SLAs many 5G use cases require before real-world outages put your reputation and bottom line at risk.

Persistent telecommunications experts can help you deliver a better, more resilient 5G network to market faster than your competition, visit our Telecom and Media page to know how.