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Software-defined networking underpins Nokia’s 5G architecture

Nokia demonstrates programmable software-defined 5G networking architecture to dynamically manage network resources

Nokia Networks has unveiled a network architecture for 5G that it hopes will optimise service delivery for future 5G use cases and enable telcos and mobile operators to offer networking functions to other industries under a network-as-a-service model.

According to Nokia, its “system-of-systems” is a programmable 5G architecture that will overcome the rigidity of legacy networks by automatically and dynamically adapting radio access and core network resource to accommodate various services, changing traffic levels and network topology.

Nokia claimed this would deliver a higher quality of experience for consumers, while almost instant response and solid connectivity would transform business processes for enterprises.

Nokia said building separate systems to meet future requirements and use cases of 5G was not an option, so the future network needed to be integrated and aligned with software-defined functions, cognitive technology to orchestrate it and distributed content and processing.

The architecture incorporates a number of new and existing features, including network slicing, which creates independent, dedicated virtual network instances in the same infrastructure to run services that have different requirements in terms of latency, throughput and so on.

This uses a self-aware software-defined transport network which automatically adapts itself to changing requirements and the needs of different customers. Nokia achieved this by using self-organising networks for transport in combination with a multi-supplier software-defined network (SDN) fabric control that acts across SDN domains. It uses a single rest application program interface (API) to ensure the network control does not have to talk to every SDN controller.

The introduction of programmable APIs in the virtual core network elements will ensure core network changes can be made in real-time – currently this can take several hours. Accordingly, the core network can adapt to dynamically changing needs, such as the creation of new network slices or mobility profiles.

Meanwhile, dynamic experience management will deliver automated quality of experience optimisation of each application session. Service-determined connectivity features will free devices and services from being tied to single point-to-point IP connections and allow connectivity paths to be freely chosen according to service demand.

Nokia also added a distributed telco cloud structure through its AirFrame datacentre system to support critical services for verticals and mobility on demand to ensure resources are used more efficiently.

“With our cognitive and cloud-optimised architecture for the 5G era, we have outlined an end-to-end architecture that will allow unprecedented and cognitive customisability to meet stringent performance, security, cost and energy requirements,” said Nokia chief architect Volker Zeigler.

“It will fuel economic growth through new business models across vertical sectors, such as network-as-a-service for other industries to use network functions as they need them.”

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