The Critical New Solution in powering Industry 4.0 with Private LTE, and Hybrid Cloud Solutions

By Special Guest
Akshay Sharma, Correspondent
April 26, 2019

The 5G promise is broad and ambitious, but business leaders need to recognize that we are at the very beginning of this journey, and emerging technologies under the 5G umbrella are creating new opportunities for new entrants to fill the gaps as the world moves towards the promise of 5G, such as 5G Hybrid Cloud Services Brokering, Network Slicing on Demand, within newer Mobile Edge Computing nano-data centers at the carrier edge, across newer spectrum and services, utilizing 3G, 4G, and 5G.

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the US, recently announced the new “Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.” bringing the internet to rural areas as well as mainstream deployments in larger venues — injecting $20.4 billion into broadband networks. Additionally, an auction is planned for December 2019, with a total of 3400MHz of spectrum, broken up into three bands: the upper 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands, poised for Wireless Local Loop ideal for rural Industrial IoT applications: rural farm production, industries like mining, oil and gas, and manufacturing.

Industry 4.0 is commonly considered the basis for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, leveraging Cyber-physical systems, IoT, Analytics, AI with Automation, and Intelligence with Robotics in Manufacturing as well as newer applications in Industrial settings. We move from the steam engine, to the combustion engine, to the "search engine" driving newer innovations!

A key enabling technology will be Private LTE, 3G/4G and eventually 5G solutions that can be housed within carrier-edge nano-datacenters as well as enterprise data centers, where often the main landmarks in the rural villages, and cities are the main community venues, the town hall, and the telephone company's central office switching center all on Main Street.

These 5G carrier-edge nano-datacenters, housed in cell tower locations, and central offices of the past will need newer thinking in solutions and services being offered, as these solutions extend to within enterprises. Legacy approaches of the past have included essentially a 2-pronged approach of hardware appliances, from traditional vendors with legacy operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS). Now, newer Agile, and DevOPs-oriented “cloud-based” solutions are occurring from legacy vendors re-inventing themselves like Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco, as well as newer players like Mavenir, Metaswitch and NetNumber with their virtualized offerings. These newer offerings like NetNumber's All-G platform, offer a third approach, with elasticity of services, pay-as-you-grow business models, and newer innovative services for Industrial applications, such as:

  • Autonomous Robotics
  • AI-based controls
  • Video-everywhere from surveillance to process and quality controls

Newer spectrum bands are occurring for Private LTE Networks such as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) enabling newer levels of connectivity, in the 3.5 Ghz band, with newer access control systems required for the shared resources, to the newer high frequency bands ideal for fixed wireless local loop access.

Hybrid clouds will create a technology convergence platform that combines IoT data and cognitive computing as necessary building blocks, bridging private on-prem enterprise clouds, to public megaplex clouds, soon with hybrid clouds in newer carriers. These platforms will be open, scalable, and will support newer concepts of Cloud-Brokering whereby workloads are spun up and down as-needed, and be programmable allowing for newer agile services.

"As this happens, newer solutions in Industrial Systems will be needed in conjunction with the above, as we transition in the next decade to 5G, to Cyberphysical Infrastructure, to holistically Trusted Solutions, with Autonomous, Hyperconverged Networks," said Leonard Lee Industry Consultant, Managing Director and founder at neXt Curve.

According to the ITU, on 5G, newer thinking is also needed in ensuring these are open systems, supporting programmability and agility, with scalability, security, and reliability maintained, while supporting standards-based interfaces.

On the cost savings side, Private LTE and future 5G networks are planned to be capable to support virtual networks such as low power low throughput (LPLT) networks for low cost IoT, using LPWAN (low power wide area network) technologies, where a goal of 90% power savings is to occur, leveraging Sleep mode power savings, mobile edge computing in hybrid cloud data centers, but more is needed ! Enter SDx-based technologies… Software Defined Everything, with Autonomous, Hyperconverged Networks !

Software-defined networking (SDN) technology is an approach in networking leveraging cloud computing concepts that facilitates agile and programmable networks. Software-defined everything technology leverages these same software-defined concepts and applies them to the entire system: radio interfaces being programmable, data center compute and storage being elastic supporting newer network slicing concepts, and cloud-brokering concepts, while the OSS/BSS platforms become more agile, virtual and user-configurable, ideally with zero-touch provisioning, and with AI utilizing Closed Loop Automation.

Private LTE solutions will require newer critical components in this equation, leveraging virtualized packet core solutions, Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) solutions, virtualized IMS core solutions enabling secure, on-net voice services, along with virtualized functions as VNF’s: virtual network functions, supporting a range of network access types from 3G-4G-5G delivered with Industrial Process Control applications. 

For Industry 4.0, mission-critical features are needed supporting ultra-low latency, holistic security, extreme resiliency, and features like Mission Critical Push to Talk (MCPTT), Group Push to Collaborate, within a platform supporting open API’s for newer innovations, needed for Industry 4.0.

Implications for Business Leaders:

CIOs and CTOs of service providers embarking on Private LTE projects to newer 5G data centers should explore SDx-based technologies, and hybrid solutions as they re-vector their legacy central offices to newer hybrid cloud datacenters offering newer services: IoT applications, and localized Private LTE services with newer low-latency, Edge Computing applications.

The New Agile, Power-Efficient Datacenter Business!

SDx-based technologies will transform the way Industry’s manage its business- with holistic savings integrated within all datacenter types in the Cloud continuum from the Megaplex, to the hybrid clouds, to the enterprise server clouds.

A new Carrier-Grade, Agile, Hybrid Cloud solution will occur supporting Private LTE networks as an on-ramp to 5G that not only is agile, programmable, and scalable, but has increased resiliencies. Ideally, this is a platform for newer innovations, as well as being more efficient in storage, network and server resources, but can dynamically move workloads between the multiple clouds, while maintaining high levels of quality of experience, and ensuring savings through operational efficiencies, with holistic Cybersecurity maintained throughout.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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