Contributing Editor Annie Turner takes a brief look at recent network automation highlights – and low-lights.
AWS’ outage on 9 December provoked responses from BT and Deutsche Telekom. “Still want to put your network core into the public cloud? #suckers,” tweeted Neil McRae, Chief Architect at the UK’s BT Group as details of the failure emerged. The US’ east coast was affected the worst, where services including Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Slack, Amazon’s own Ring and DoorDash were affected.
Light Reading reported similar sentiments from T-Mobile’s President of Technology, Neville Ray, who is responsible for running T-Mobile’s $60 billion five-year, 5G network upgrade programme. “The phone isn’t going to ring, the data session is not going to happen unless that core service is up and running,” Ray said at an investor event. “I’m not at the point yet where I would put that in the hands of a third party.”
ToolTester reported that AWS had suffered 27 network failures in the US in 12 months before the December meltdown, hence NS1’s December launch of a solution to mitigate the effects of internet outages on users was superbly timed. NS1 specialises in traffic intelligence for applications and automation, and its new solution combines managed and dedicated domain name servers (DNS) to provide redundancy and failover, in parallel with its own filter chain tech. By driving traffic through the filter chain, teams can route traffic between multiple clouds or content distribution networks to accommodate peak traffic loads or divert traffic to other resources if a provider has problems.
Nothing daunted, Verizon and Google Cloud announced they are partnering to move cloud closer to mobile and connected devices at the edge of Verizon’s network. By combining Verizon 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge, they intend to bring Google’s compute and storage services to the edge of Verizon’s local network. This will support bandwidth and low latency needed for applications like autonomous mobile robots, smart logistics and factory automation.
Verizon and Google Cloud also plan to develop public 5G mobile edge computing for developers and enterprises, enabling developers to build and deploy applications at the edge at locations throughout the US.
In parallel Ericsson will collaborate with Verizon to pilot 5G Edge with Google Distributed Cloud Edge as part of a proof of concept at its USA 5G Smart Factory. Niklas Heuveldop, President and Head of Ericsson North America, commented, “Testing this technology with autonomous mobile robots in our Smart Factory is an important step on the journey to the factory of the future.”
Still with factories, Nokia chose Orange Polska as a partner to build a private 4G and 5G network at its Polish factory at Bydgoszcz. The solution, powered by the Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC), works at the factory in Bydgoszcz and manages automated vehicles including a drone, and allows push to talk and video communications.
The location in Bydgoszcz includes three R&D centre buildings, which are part of an ecosystem of Nokia factories and R&D centres in Poland, employing more than 6,000 people. Here Nokia integrates and tests ICT systems and networks for telecoms operators and customers from the industry, transport and energy sectors.
In turn, Nokia announced it is developing a 5G private network for Volkswagen at Wolfsburg in Germany, also using its DAC to enable real-time data processing at the network edge. Volkswagen will try out new operational use cases and test if the 5G technology meets the requirements of vehicle production with the goal of increasing the efficiency and flexibility of series production in future.
Initial use cases include wireless upload of data to manufactured vehicles, intelligent networking of robots and wireless assembly tools. The deployment ensures all data remains on campus, processed at the network edge in real time, giving Volkswagen full control. The network is operating in the dedicated 3.7-3.8 GHz band for local private wireless networks, that Volkswagen applied for and was allocated by the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA).
Perhaps the BNetzA reserving 5G spectrum for German businesses is why they expressed the highest level of interest, at 40%, in deploying private 5G networks, followed by 28% of UK firms, 26% of Japanese firms and 24% of American firms. This is according to a report, Private 5G here and now, which was commissioned by NTT and developed by Economist Impact. Note, NTT has been offering Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) since last August and claims it is a world first.
The report found that 90% of the 216 CIOs and senior decision-makers surveyed from Germany, Japan, the UK and US expect “private 5G will become the standard network choice”.
Most (80%) of respondents agreed that COVID-19 has made it easier to secure the budget needed for 5G deployment. This attitude is strongest in Germany (93%), followed by the US (83%), the UK (77%) and Japan (65%). The report notes, “To remain relevant, companies are increasingly compelled to leverage Industry 4.0 technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation, machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).”