Cisco Reveals Private 5G Enterprise Vision

Posted On March 2, 2021

Source: SDX Central

Cisco, much like every other network vendor, is increasingly eyeing private 5G enterprise networks as an attractive opportunity. These private networks come in all shapes and sizes, and the technical variations of each position different software and hardware stacks for adoption based on the resources and objectives of each enterprise.

Reducing complexity and overcoming integration challenges is among the most critical and early obstacles that Cisco is striving to solve, according to Jonathan Davidson, SVP and GM at Cisco’s Mass Scale Infrastructure Group.

“We really think that simplicity wins, so we’ve been working with leading carriers and leading enterprises just to understand how we can simplify it,” Davidson said during a press briefing.

Cisco is involved in multiple private wireless trials and a “limited number of deployments globally,” which are revealing insights that are informing its strategy, he said.

Inflection of 5G, Cloud for Private Networks

“We’re going to enable our customers to buy our technology any way that makes sense for our customers. But we also want to realize that cloud has dramatically changed every single industry that it’s touched, and we don’t want to miss a transition where we have an inflection of two technologies — cloud and 5G — and we think that those two things can live together in harmony,” Davidson said.

“In order for this to really go big” enterprises will have to weigh the pros and cons of having a cloud service manage on-site capabilities and make a determination accordingly, he added.

Cisco increasingly sees an opportunity to potentially deliver private 5G networks as a service, but it doesn’t have an offering for that today, he explained, adding that every private network Cisco is currently involved adheres to an on-premises framework.

There are multiple variations within that on-premise model, including the use of privately held, licensed, or shared spectrum. Some enterprises with manufacturing plants, factories, and warehouses are using their own spectrum to build network infrastructure, while others are turning to service providers to assemble a private network, Davidson said.

Most Enterprises Still Seek Operator Assistance

“The majority of customers, for simplicity purposes, will still want to go down the path of partnering with a communications service provider in order to get that because of the complexity,” he said. 

Cisco’s technology stack, which can be used in a private network environment, has shrunk considerably during the last year. The amount of servers required for these deployments is now one, compared to the nine servers required a year ago, according to Davidson. 

The vendor has been exploring ways to expand on-premises policies for applications and users into the public mobile core for at least two years, he said, adding that the use case is clear but it won’t gain traction if it’s too complicated. 

“We want to make sure that the technology that we’re building for the mobile core is going to be the same technology that’s going to need to be used inside the enterprise,” Davidson said. 

“We’re early but we are certainly very focused on how we can simplify this for the enterprises and the service providers to offer that capability for further integration,” he said.

Written by Timothy Downs

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