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Cloud Native/NFV

NetNumber highlights 5G core challenge

Progressive mobile operators are preparing to roll out next-generation 5G core systems as they migrate towards standalone 5G deployments, but that evolutionary move will bring some particular data management challenges, according to Steve Legge, chief operating officer at NetNumber.

NetNumber has been providing subscriber data management (SDM) systems to mobile operators for years, and has more than 200 operators using its various SDM and signalling security tools. Legge says that gives it plenty of experience in data management strategies and he's concerned there isn't enough focus currently on how operators will manage their data once they have deployed a next-generation core platform.

"We don't see enough talk about hyper-distributed core," says Legge, who has been at the company seven years. "As that core gets distributed, the way you deal with network data is different – you don't have a centralized HLR/HSS [home location register/home subscriber server] … that is completely different in a distributed architecture."

He continues: "Data management and replication is major challenge as you distribute the core. It's not just about a database – yes, you need a database, but you also need data pipelines. Kafka, an open source tool that has been in enterprise tech for some time and which is used in cloud data management, is the most popular application" for enabling data pipelines, which enable synchronization within a distributed cloud environment.

A combination of the pipeline and the database is how operators can meet the data management challenges in 5G, believes Legge, "and then you need to consider the impact of IoT," he adds, with a nervous laugh.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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