SD-WAN and 5G with Network Slicing: Highlights from MEF 3.0 PoC Showcase 2021

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Software-defined WAN is revolutionizing the business WAN space with its ability to bring virtualization to the edge. Cost savings, network agility, application-aware routing, optimized cloud connectivity, and enhanced application and performance visibility are driving adoption of SD-WAN among businesses.

For many enterprises, one of the key drivers in this evolution is the ability to use cellular connectivity for SD-WAN deployments. Cellular connectivity includes both 4G LTE and 5G options. In the next three-to-five years, cellular connectivity for SD-WAN deployments is expected to roughly double. Such trends, pertaining to SD-WAN services with cellular connectivity, the IoT, edge computing, and security will provide opportunities and challenges for SD-WAN providers.

The Benefits

When SD-WAN and 5G are combined, enterprises can benefit in a variety of different ways as each of these services will bring distinct advantages of their own. By combining the services, the network experience will be enhanced. 

Benefits of SD-WAN:

  • Optimal delivery path across the network.
  • Dynamic application aware traffic routing.
  • Centralized orchestration and management.
  • Highly secure connectivity.

Benefits of 5G:

  • Alternative network connectivity over traditional connectivity options.
  • High customization by disaggregating hardware and software.
  • Virtually seamless integration with 5G-enabled devices or built-in LTE connectivity ports on SD-WAN devices. 

Benefits of combining SD-WAN and 5G:

Network slicing can help improve:

  • Performance of SD-WAN services, by enabling performance tuning and QoS as an enhanced feature in SD-WAN deployments. 
  • Network resiliency and productivity, by combining the path selection and application prioritization capabilities of SD-WAN and 5G. 
  • The ability to identify, manage and improve specific application level performance.

Static Traffic Management versus Dynamic-Traffic Management 

In static traffic management, all of the network packets are prioritized within the data-plan. Whereas dynamic-traffic management is used for application-level prioritization, or to protect certain network packet streams at the application level. Segmented traffic is allocated or mapped to a dedicated section of the 5G network instance on the WAN link. Enterprise customers may subscribe to different slicing services at the sites, based on the local end-user application requirements. Additionally, network slicing is expected to address QoS by creating virtual networks within the same physical infrastructure to allocate different applications to different QoS levels.

As the 5G deployment to enterprise customers continues to become available, we anticipate network slicing to be widely available by the latter half of 2021. The infancy of network slicing technology remains a challenge for mobile operators. 

Higher costs, due to in-building penetration, pose challenges as well. In-building coverage within some frequency bands might require cell extenders, custom wiring and external antenna options, resulting in the need for fiber or wired backhaul. In-building connectivity might be a more significant issue in specific use cases, leading to custom 5G deployments in order to address indoor network coverage.

To address these concerns, SD-WAN, 5G and network slicing architectures are evolving and converging as a single managed service from service providers. 

Introducing the MEF 3.0 PoC (133) Use Case

AT&T SD-WAN, with VMware and 5G, utilizes a powerful hosted gateway and scalable architecture coupled with Ericsson’s multi-environment deployment capable dynamic orchestration platform. 

Key characteristics of this PoC:

  • Showcase our latest SD-WAN multi-domain orchestration platform to work with 5G Network Slicing.  
  • Demonstrate that we continue to expand with newer enhancements that improve customer experience and integrate AT&T SD-WAN with VMware and the 5G network.
  • Deploy advanced use cases with 5G Network Slicing technology that is capable of increased resiliency and productivity.
  • Connect and communicate with AT&T customers to understand their business needs and how we can solve them using innovative technology.
  • Learn and understand customer needs by working with customers to help efficiently deliver and manage advanced use cases. 
  • Allow customers to try out new services at will and fail faster in case it doesn’t work with the solution architecture used.

AT&T has successfully demonstrated its ability to deploy state-of-the-art Software Defined Networking solutions globally, such as network function virtualization and SD-WAN. Technology innovation and smart placement of workloads can help us solve customer challenges while continuing to meet their business objectives.

Learn More

Please visit the upcoming MEF 3.0 PoC (133) SD-WAN with 5G & Network Slicing showcase on 18 February 2021, highlighting cashier-less automated check-out and smart workload placement across the Edge. Read more about MEF 3.0 PoC (133) >

About MEF’s Proof of Concept Program & Showcase

The MEF 3.0 Proof of Concept program effectively fosters innovation, seeds new MEF standards and projects, and accelerates our existing work within the ICT industry by providing our members—including service providers, technology suppliers, and other stakeholders within the ICT industry—the opportunity to collaborate on MEF 3.0-based use cases throughout the year.

Initiated by MEF members and facilitated by MEF staff, each MEF 3.0 PoC receives a unique, identifying number that remains unchanged as its title and messaging evolves over the life of the project.

PoC work is highlighted in public showcases and award presentations that explore individual Proofs of Concept. To learn more about the MEF 3.0 PoC Program and the enabling technologies, visit MEF.net.

Vinayak Mohite
Lead Product Marketing Manager | AT&T
att.com

In his current role, Vinayak is responsible for the Virtual Edge product development. His Virtual Edge product team is currently focused on the design and development of a next-generation platform for SD-WAN, Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and Software Defined Networking (SDN) technologies . They are also responsible for the design and development of integrated SD-WAN and SDN bundled solutions, SD-WAN with 5G integrated solutions, lifecycle change management, and several large customer-centric solutions.

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