Deterministic Networks Bring Digitalization into the Fast Lane
The belief that network infrastructure is just a dumb pipe is no longer valid. A series of intelligent technologies have been deployed on networks to meet the fast changing requirements in the digitalization era. One of these is network slicing, a catalyst technology that helps accelerate the deployment of 5G services. Since 2019, more than 130 operators have launched 5G commercial services in nearly 60 countries and regions. While the rapid expansion of 5G networks is accelerating the digital transformation of various industries, their diversified network requirements cannot be met by the traditional best-effort rigid network architecture. As such, deterministic networks with guaranteed SLAs are urgently required. This is where network slicing comes into play. It empowers connectivity with deterministic characteristics, provides deterministic SLAs such as bandwidth, latency, and jitter, and ensures the suitability of end-to-end connectivity services for enterprises.
One Network for All Services with Tenant-Level Hard Slicing
Bearing different services with deterministic SLAs on a single network is always a challenge — one that becomes even more prominent due to the rapid growth in both the number and size of business services and applications. However, using one network to carry all services is becoming not only a network development trend, but also a basic requirement on deterministic networks to improve user experience. While the industry wants to deploy network slicing on a physical network to meet differentiated service isolation requirements, traditional QoS soft slicing solutions provide only basic isolation capabilities. As such, a hard slicing solution — one that provides strict SLAs, such as bandwidth, delay, and jitter — is required. Tenant-level hard slicing meets this requirement, providing high reliability while also ensuring that a failure of any slice network does not affect others.
This slicing technology enables CSPs to flexibly divide a network into first, business, and economy classes (like aircraft seating), providing differentiated network service capabilities for users with different service needs. In addition to maximizing the value of networks and enabling CSPs to achieve monetization, it allows enterprises to reap the benefits of network-as-a-service and quickly deploy services or applications in the network slices on demand.
Hierarchical Slicing Takes Network Slicing to the Next Level
The development of B2B industry applications boosts the demand for network slicing. Typical service applications include remote maintenance assistance via HD video conferencing for smart manufacturing, remote B-ultrasound for smart healthcare, and remote control for smart harbors. These services require a wide range of bandwidth — from just a few Mbps to many Gbps — and elastic adjustment based on business scenarios. The mainstream slicing granularity in the industry is at the Gbps level, which consumes many network resources and therefore is unsuitable for large-scale deployment. This is unbearable for operators and also costly and inefficient for end users with small or dynamic bandwidth requirements. What’s more, the industry average can provide only dozens of slices, which is insufficient for rapidly growing business needs, resulting in poor user experience. To address these issues, Huawei launched the hierarchical slicing technology, which enables high-quality service isolation by supporting a slicing granularity ranging from Mbps to Gbps. This technology allows CSPs to categorize and plan exclusive industry network slices based on each industry's characteristics, and enterprises within the industry to further order sub-slices based on their customized applications. The tenant-level hard slicing feature, which counts deterministic SLAs as one of its major highlights, supports elastic slicing adjustment within minutes, meeting users' dynamic network requirements. In addition, Huawei’s fingerprint-based slicing technology greatly increases the number of supported network slices to over 1000, significantly outperforming the industry’s average of dozens. This helps operators achieve better monetization of their networks while also providing a solid foundation for operators to expand B2B industry applications. All in all, Huawei's hierarchical slicing represents a great leap forward in network slicing technology. Its continuous commercial deployments will help both CSPs and enterprises realize major success.