Network slicing is a form of virtualization that allows multiple logical networks to run on top of a shared physical network. On demand allocation of virtual network infrastructure resources (from radio, transport and core networks) to specific mobile services enables faster introduction of new services, meets changing performance requirements of distinct services, and empowers operators to deliver guaranteed user experience.
Despite several good business cases for Network Slicing, progress in 4G/LTE has been mostly hampered by the management and operational complexities and the lack of a truly dynamic slice resource allocation mechanism. With the service based architecture of 5G and resource allocation mechanism defined in 3GPP Release 15 and 16, Network Slicing is about to come into its own.
The scarcity of physical network resources requires smarter allocation of services across network slices. An important aspect of network slicing is that, as also outlined in our latest white paper “Automated Network Slice Management for Enabling 5G”, several service flows can share a network slice created across a large pool of common resources. This results in significant efficiency gains and improves the reliability of the network.
In order to achieve this, P.I. Works engineers contributed to a research study, namely “Multi-Resource Allocation in Software-Defined Next Generation Cellular Networks”, that is also published by IEEE. The study proposes a resource allocation mechanism that distributes available resources from radio, transmission and core networks across different type of services (e.g., IoT, broadband etc.) based on their SLA (Service Level Agreement) requirements.
In order to do that you need a mechanism that can understand the SLA requirements of various mobile services at a granular level. To manage the allocation and optimization of network slices, the research proposes to use the “Analytics Hierarchical Process (AHP)” framework. The AHP provides a guideline to help network slice orchestrators identify the required resources needed for each service. AHP framework weighs services based on their requirements and identifies the services with similar requirements that will use the same amount and type of resources. As each physical network resource is utilized by more than one slice, the resource allocation should be done in a way that will maximize the use of existing infrastructure by multiple services.
Such resource allocation mechanism can only be achieved through use of advanced automation techniques. Automation is also instrumental in the optimization of slices to sustain the performance of each service as per the SLA commitments.
AHP combined with advanced automation will empower operators to deliver enhanced customer experience in 5G and minimize the efforts related to network resource allocation and quality assurance.
P.I. Works is committed to delivering best in class network automation solutions to mobile operators around the world and we are working hard to empower operators to deliver on the promise of 5G. Automated management of network slices will not only drive network efficiency and quality, but also redefine the way 5G networks are operated. P.I. Works will be a trusted partner in this transformational journey and will continue to invest in research and development activities to further enhance its solutions.
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P.I. Works also plays an important role in the development of key industry standards that define the future of mobile networks. P.I. Works actively contributes to the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standardization forum, Global TD-LTE initiative (GTI) and open source initiatives.
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