What my missing car key teaches us about network resource placement

Tzvika Naveh

02 Sep 2020

What my missing car key teaches us about network resource placement

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It happened again. I had to drive my son to a surprise party, but couldn’t recall where I put my keys. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could have dozens of spare car keys placed in different locations around the house?

But since a car only comes with two sets of keys, their placement in optimal locations in your home is important.

In mobile networks, the “keys” are the applications or network functions that, in most cases, are placed in the core of the network. Just as we don’t have dozens of spare car keys spread around our houses, service providers don’t duplicate their network functions resources across their networks. Although replicating network resources at the edge of the network would solve some problems, homing and placing network functions in all the edge data centers would create redundant, inefficient and costly resources. Indeed, once 5G networks are deployed at scale, their sheer size and complexity mean that network function duplication will simply no longer provide a valid workaround.

The ability of the 5G network to support multiple new use cases and monetize differentiated services by committing to a guaranteed quality of service (QoS) over a network slice makes network function placement optimization more important than ever before. The disaggregated nature of 5G architecture means that application “brainpower” or workload processing power can be placed in selected, strategic locations at the edge of the network, closer to the end user. This eliminates or reduces round-trip delays and enables service providers to commit to guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs) with assured network parameters, like for example, the throughput and latency needed for real-time applications.

With 5G rollouts picking up speed, service providers, vendors and open source organizations are already seeking ways to optimize network function homing and placement. Recent research by AvidThink, sponsored by Amdocs, explores this placement challenge. AvidThink recommends a three-phase evolution towards autonomous NF placement with pragmatic actions to address the challenges as they unfold.

Most of the time, lost items turn up somewhere obvious. And so, instead of ransacking my home for those lost keys I stopped to think about where they ought to be. I guess you’re expecting a happy ending, but no, I didn’t find them in time.... But now that my placement is better, I hope to locate them speedily the next time a surprise party rolls around.


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