Software-defined networks (SDN) are the way of the future, as brownfield legacy hardware no longer needs to constrain functionality. While SDNs deliver a whole host of advantages, they can get overwhelming if not orchestrated well. First, there's the challenge associated with the division of networking functions themselves—between virtual network functions (VNF), physical network functions (PNF) and cloud-native network functions (CNF).
The 5G network can be divided into network slices depending on individual service-level agreements (SLAs). Hundreds of thousands of slices are not out of the question. Managing the provisioning and deployment of these will necessitate AI and networking.
In addition, agile DevOps cycles mean network provisioning will have to happen quickly and scale up and down depending on enterprise technology needs. The complexities of network automation grow even more as 5G will have to be tailored to every company's changing needs to meet SLAs.
Speed at scale matters, too. Companies won't wait days or weeks for network setup—they'll need one in hours, if not minutes. Network security, especially as more key functionality migrates to the edge, also continues to be essential. As technologies change, networking orchestration and management will have to keep up without service interruptions. The shifting sands of 5G network automation at scale will need AI for the life cycle management of provisioned networks.