Monetizing 5G: The strategic importance of end-to-end orchestration

Key findings from a recent Heavy Reading survey show service providers believe E2E orchestration will be pivotal to completing the 5G service monetization journey.

Jim Hodges, Chief Analyst - Cloud and Security, Heavy Reading

May 15, 2024

5 Min Read
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(Source: sakkmesterke/Alamy Stock Photo)

As service providers continue their 5G monetization journey, several questions remain. One question revolves around the role that end-to-end orchestration (E2E) will play in the monetization process. While E2E orchestration is conceptually straightforward, the execution requires the seamless integration of several foundational factors and capabilities, including intent-driven policy and automated processes.

To understand service providers' E2E execution strategies, Heavy Reading recently conducted the 5G Orchestration and Service Assurance Market Leader Program to document E2E opportunities, challenges and orchestration platform requirements. This survey project, sponsored by Amdocs and Cisco, was conducted in March 2024 and attracted 124 qualified respondents.

Assessing E2E orchestration importance

The survey findings provided valuable insights, including on how service providers assess the monetization value of E2E orchestration. As shown below, E2E orchestration falls into strategic imperative territory. Nearly half (49%) of the survey respondents indicated it is a "very important component" for monetizing 5G or cloud services, and 44% said it is an "important component." The high ranking of E2E orchestration confirms the value of supporting comprehensive E2E service lifecycles to drive service innovation and migrate from domain-based orchestration to a comprehensive E2E lifecycle management system.

How important is E2E orchestration for monetizing 5G or cloud-based services?

Chart showing importance of E2E orchestration for monetizing 5G or cloud-based services.

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

E2E orchestration use cases

Another key consideration is how E2E orchestration is tied to specific service or capability use cases. When given a broad list of six service-based use cases driving implementation, service providers ranked cloud orchestration (67%) in first place, followed by 5G sliced-based services (58%) and network as a service (NaaS; 57%). Heavy Reading believes this input further validates that E2E orchestration will play an important role in service monetization by enhancing the revenue potential of high value cloud-based services such as NaaS — and even slice-based services.

Which service-based use cases are driving your implementation of E2E service orchestration? (Select top three)

Chart showing service-based use cases your implementation of E2E service orchestration.

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

AI integration

Automation is a given in end-to-end orchestration because, as noted above, service execution is extended across multiple domains. This means there are new performance requirements to meet strict SLA budgets for both sliced and non-slice-based services. Since these services are executed in real-time, they are beyond human performance levels. 

Thus, some level of automation must be integrated into an E2E orchestration platform, though humans can and must still manage service execution. They can do so by creating intent-based business rules (e.g., define a service with a specific performance level). Once these rules and policies are defined, the intent-driven principles and AI techniques can be deployed to determine optimal network performance (e.g., by the optimal placement and allocation of multi-domain workloads).

The key question here is: What benefits do service providers anticipate through the integration of AI into an E2E orchestration system? Since the breadth of benefits is so broad, Heavy Reading asked the survey respondents to prioritize the following defined capabilities:

  • Dynamic optimization: Adjust network resources, ensuring peak efficiency and performance.

  • Customer-centric assurance: Enhance quality and reliability by using advanced analytics.

  • Agile innovation: Enable intent-based automation and service creation, quickly developing and deploying services.

  • Flexible orchestration: Enable service orchestration across diverse and complex networks, as well as model-driven automation and accurate representation of services and resources.

  • Operational efficiency: Streamline network resources across multiple vendors and technologies.

As captured in the figure below, operational efficiency is the top-ranking benefit (74%). A second tier of closely ranked benefits spans dynamic optimization (61%) to customer-centric assurance (58%) and flexible orchestration (57%).

Heavy Reading interprets these results as reinforcing that initially, service providers will focus on streamlining all their network resources to improve network operational performance, lower costs and increase revenue performance. They will accomplish this by leveraging AI to ensure the optimal performance of services and underlying network resources within agreed-upon service standards per the intent-based defined rules.

While operational efficiency stood out, it is important to note that, on some level, all the categories can potentially drive new revenue streams. They all possess attributes that improve the monetization potential by matching network performance and error detection to QoS and customer experience.

What are the leading benefits of integrating AI into an end-to-end orchestration system? (Select top three)

Chart showing leading benefits of integrating AI into an end-to-end orchestration system.

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

Purchasing an E2E orchestration platform

E2E orchestration is clearly a fundamental component of monetizing 5G services. But what are the platform impacts and what do service providers need to consider when they purchase an E2E orchestration platform?

Based on "extremely important" input, the leader was reliability and resilience (52%), with scalability achieving a second-place ranking (41%). The remaining six capabilities were tightly ranked (29–33%), indicating that while viewed as secondary factors, each is subject to due diligence in the purchasing phase.

The focus on scale reliability and resilience is logical since, cloud or no cloud, service providers still need to meet five-nines reliability. Moreover, the concept of scale has been extended to ensure sufficient resources in a multi-domain environment.

How important are the following capabilities when making end-to-end orchestration platform purchasing decisions?

Chart showing importance of various capabilities when making end-to-end orchestration platform purchasing decisions.

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

(Source: Heavy Reading, 2024)

Conclusion

Heavy Reading's research confirms that service providers believe E2E orchestration will be pivotal to completing the 5G service monetization journey. Accordingly, service providers are now in the due diligence phase. They are "dotting the i's" on the impacts, importance and monetization value of integrating E2E orchestration augmented with AI and intent-based service logic into their multi-domain networks.

Looking for more information?

This blog is sponsored by Amdocs.

About the Author(s)

Jim Hodges

Chief Analyst - Cloud and Security, Heavy Reading

Jim leads Heavy Reading's research on the impact of NFV on the control plane and application layers at the core and edge. This includes the evolution path of SIP applications, unified communications (UC), IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), session border controllers (SBCs), Diameter signaling controllers (DSCs), policy controllers and WebRTC. Jim is also focused on the network and subscriber impact of Big Data and Analytics. He authors Heavy Reading's NFV and SDN Market Trackers. Other areas of research coverage include Subscriber Data Management (SDM) and fixed-line TDM replacement. Jim joined Heavy Reading from Nortel Networks, where he tracked the VoIP and application server market landscape and was a key contributor to the development of Wireless Intelligent Network (WIN) standards. Additional technical experience was gained with Bell Canada, where he performed IN and SS7 network planning, numbering administration, technical model forecast creation and definition of regulatory-based interconnection models. Jim is based in Ottawa, Canada.

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