New development and delivery models are key to the success of 5G networks but if you can’t test at every stage, via automated tools and with a vendor that can match your pace of evolution, you will be left behind. What do you need?
5G brings many new things to the table including purely software-based solutions, but behind the scenes, it will also fundamentally change the way in which we deliver and manage networks. To support these changes, we also need to evolve the way in which we test services – not just to adapt to new architectures, but also for the extended range of use cases that will be supported on the new networks.
This point has been recognised for a while but in the rush to deploy networks, it may be that the industry is lagging behind somewhat. As 5G ramps up beyond eMBB, that has to change. So, what matters and what do we need to do?
Well, perhaps the most important thing to consider is the frequency with which operators will be making new updates to their networks. The days when network changes were infrequent are in the past. The new software and cloud environments are geared to Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) practice, which means that things are going to be changing, all the time. In fact, telcos have long aspired to this, as they have sought to emulate the iterative approach practised by OTT solution providers, for which the legacy approach never even existed!
Operators will move to the same footing. In most cases, a two-stage process will be adopted – the CI/CD practice to which we referred in the previous paragraph. What does this mean? Well, Continuous Integration essentially means that software teams make frequent changes to their code base and then integrate them to their common code depository and control system. Clearly, this means that new iterations need to be tested, so to keep pace with the frequency of such changes, both the incorporation of changes to the common base and the validation of such changes, need to be automated. So, for CI, we need continuous testing via automated tools.
Similarly, Continuous Delivery means that these changes are packaged and moved into production environments. Again, these must pass quality assurance (testing and validation) processes, so that the new updates do not cause disruption to the live network. Once again, to keep pace with the rate of such deliveries, automation is key – which applies to test platforms as much as to any other related process.
This is a huge change. Operators have traditional managed staged delivery cycles, with windows for deployment and the delivery of changes to test, staging and production networks in strict sequence and with manual gates. The problem is that these procedures have often taken months – which has clearly set artificial limits to agility.
Such approaches are no longer fit for purpose. So, as development teams shift their practices, then other related processes must also change. That’s why testing is no longer a stop-start activity that’s run as for a specified period of time, or for a pre-set list of acceptance scripts.
Instead, tests must now be agile. They must be adapted to each of the changes and to allow each of the engineers to test the things they are responsible for. They must be automated and allow multiple users to do different things in parallel. While telecoms software development moves to unprecedented velocity, telecoms test solutions must embrace the same.
That’s what Evolver and PureLoad enable. They help operators at every step of the CI and CD process, enabling them to test new iterations before pushing to the next phase, automatically while delivering full control to each individual. And, there’s another dimension.
A new change to a network or service process may require a corresponding adaptation to the test platform. New functionality may be required. Unless your test solution can evolve at the same pace as your network and service platforms, you will not be able to maintain CI/CD practices and goals. Evolver and PureLoad development is fully aligned with your own. At Emblasoft, we make daily and weekly updates to support your own activities. We provide a dedicated support desk, so that our team is aligned with yours.
And, because we are experts in CI/CD, we move with you, so that you can realise the objectives you have set for network and service enhancement. You won’t be left wondering how to validate the new process, because we will have delivered to support you.
So, as you adapt your processes for 5G delivery models, it’s also time to consider your test platforms and solutions. Why not book a demo with our team, so we can show you how our processes align with yours and to explore the 5G functions we offer?
Emblasoft Test & Measurement AB
120 30 Stockholm, Sweden