As already mentioned above, software-defined networking and network functions virtualization are set to play a key role for operators as they prepare to migrate from 4G to 5G and scale their networks quickly. The need for NFV allows vendors like HPE and Dell, which historically were major IT and data center vendors, to participate significantly in the drive towards 5G. NFV orchestration and infrastructure, along with SDN, are critical to the success of 5G rollouts, enabling agile infrastructure that can adapt to network slicing, low-latency, and high-capacity requirements of major 5G use cases.
SDN and Advances in 5G Network Transport
SDN is regarded as an essential element of 5G, in order to ensure fast service provisioning (and de-provisioning) as well as the optimal use of the underlying transport. It also plays an important role in enabling network slicing capabilities to allow for the virtualization of the underlying network.
One of the primary use cases for network slicing is support for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). By creating virtual network slices, the extended corporate networks of multiple virtual carriers – and potentially even enterprises – on the same underlying network can stretch beyond enterprise boundaries into the mobile sphere as well.
Network slicing can also potentially open new business models for carriers to sell or share parts of the network in a secure and isolated manner to different companies. This is not unlike how cloud service providers today sell “slices” of computing services and storage or virtual networks in a cloud data center.