5G is an important topic for wireless operators, tech companies, governments, and the media. The race to 5G is currently ongoing with each provider trying to be the first one to cross the finish line. 5G brings ultra-fast speeds and ultra-low latency, two ideal components for Internet of Things (IoT) technology. 5G is predicted to have data speeds 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks, and latency reduced from 50 milliseconds in response time to less than 5 milliseconds.
5G is anticipated to arrive in the U.S. in late 2018 to early 2019. It’s necessary that a robust 5G performance management system is in place before 5G networks are deployed as that system prevents potentially hazardous circumstances. For instance, proper 5G performance management will avert bottlenecks that cause network outages when autonomous cars transport passengers or when medical robots conduct surgery.
Performance management is the set of tools used to locate and resolve issues that affect networks and applications. IT administrators use several performance management tools to survey and maintain a network. The central purpose of performance management is to avoid a negative user experience with an enterprise’s application or network. The most common tools are application performance management (APM), network performance management (NPM), and unified performance management (UPM). In the era of 5G, the more appropriate tool will be the latter as it is a converged approach to both APM and NPM.
The 5G Performance Management Revolution
The following are some ways that 5G will revolutionize performance management.
One key element that Netrounds points out is “it will no longer be an option to use physical test and measurement tools as there will be no physical ports to plug these tools into in a virtualized environment. Instead, assurance solutions must be based on virtualized test agents that can be programmatically deployed according to the needs of designated network slices and dynamic service chains.”
5G networks may implement networking slicing, which allows network administrators to partition parts of the network for specific use cases. For instance, because autonomous cars require more bandwidth than social media browsing, the administrator may designate a larger partition (slice) of the network for autonomous vehicles than for social media browsing. Network slicing adds a new layer of performance management as each slice has specific requirements. Test agents require complete configuration to provide end-to-end monitoring of individual network slices.
Stronger reliance on UPM solutions rather than individual APM and NPM solutions will be necessary as the converged solution will provide IT administrators with a single pane of glass to monitor an enterprise’s diverse network, slices, and applications.
5G is a more agile, flexible, and scalable network. As Astellia states in its white paper, 5G’s flexibility necessitates performance management tools ability to change: “They must be real-time, fully dynamic, and coordinated by the network orchestrator to follow any network modification.”
Performance management tools feature an even more honed focus on customer experience, as 5G innovations include beamforming and network slicing. Beamforming is when the transmission of data targets one specific user.
5G promises a significant surge in device connections because it’s a faster, more reliable network, which translates into an increase in data transmission. The performance management solutions will evolve to handle, sort, filter, and analyze the massive amount of data generated by the connected devices.
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) integration into performance management tools will predict when an issue is about to occur by learning from past experiences. Eventually, ML and AI will be able to resolve the issue on its own versus alerting the proper IT personnel.