Enterprises are increasingly moving away from traditional IT, which requires up-front purchase of hardware and licensing of software, to obtaining these capabilities as services. This Everything-as-a-Service (XaaS) model, sometimes called Anything-as-a-Service, provides a number of benefits, including:
- Little or no capital expenditure. XaaS allows businesses to turn capital expenditure (CAPEX) into predictable, pay-as-you-go operating expense (OPEX), lowering the entry cost to ramp up new capabilities, better matching cash outflow to incoming cash from revenue, and increasing return on investment (ROI).
- Reduced costs. XaaS-enabled cost savings on hardware and infrastructure, software, overhead, staffing, maintenance, and office space is often greater than the recurring cost of XaaS. Further, businesses can add (and pay for) computing power and storage incrementally, as needed, rather than purchasing in large chunks in anticipation of future needs.
- Increased business agility. XaaS gives businesses the ability to quickly launch new applications, services, business processes and business models. Greater agility enables enterprises to pivot quickly as business variables change.
- More efficient use of the IT team’s time. XaaS streamlines operations and frees up resources for innovation, enabling businesses to shift IT resources to higher-value projects.
- Device and location independence. The web-based nature of XaaS allows users to access systems remotely regardless of what device they are using.
- Better backup, disaster recovery and risk mitigation. XaaS can take responsibility for backup out of the hands of users, providing regular, thorough backups of business systems. Timely, accurate backups are crucial to disaster recovery. Further, XaaS mitigates the enterprise’s risks because the XaaS provider, not the business, is responsible for managing key elements of the system.
- Access to top-tier capabilities. XaaS offers access to top-tier capabilities, such as big data and associated analytics, to businesses that might otherwise not be able to afford them.
In short, XaaS can improve the profitability, agility and efficiency of businesses that adopt it.
Private 5G Networks as a Service
The benefits of XaaS described above apply to private 5G networks that are delivered as a service. As a result, as-a-service delivery is most often the best way to deploy private 5G networks when all the variables are considered.
While this is obvious for parts of the overall system, e.g., services from hyperscalers, it is also true for even the portions of the 5G network that will reside on the premises, including the edge cloud and the radio access network (RAN). Private 5G software running in the edge cloud and RAN can be pushed and managed from the cloud. Even hardware components, such as the radios in the RAN and white box servers running the edge cloud can be provided as part of service agreements or leases.
In addition to the general benefits of XaaS, implementing the private 5G network as a service is especially advantageous for the following reasons:
- Service-based delivery makes it easy to get started with a private 5G network. As stated in “Industry 4.0: The New Industrial Revolution,” the first post in this series, the road for an enterprise to get to full Industry 4.0 can be traveled incrementally. Private 5G use cases are stackable. The private 5G network can be initially installed to support a single use case and additional use cases can then be rolled out gradually. See Figure 1, below for an example. The ability for private 5G-as-a-service customers to add capacity and services as needed and to pay-as-they go makes 5G-as-a-service an ideal vehicle for stacking use cases during a gradual Industry 4.0 rollout.
- XaaS for 5G enables continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) software development and deployment. Both Industry 4.0 and 5G are rapidly evolving, with new and changing standards, new software capabilities, new use cases and best practices. A basic requirement for enterprise private 5G-as-a-service is that it be cloud native. The cloud native approach facilitates CI/CD for software development and deployment. CI/CD is an ideal mechanism to allow private 5G networks to adapt to changing requirements for Industry 4.0 and 5G standards.
- Private 5G services ease in-house staff resource strain. Industry 4.0 rollout is particularly challenging because new production processes and associated software applications must be deployed simultaneously with a new communication network. Implementing the enterprise private 5G network as a service removes the need for in-house staff to deploy, be trained on and manage the network at the same time they’re required to roll out new production hardware and software.
- Private 5G-as-a-service permits enterprises to choose from a wide range of service providers. The installation, turn up and on-going operation of an enterprise private 5G network can be done quickly and efficiently by private 5G service providers, system integrators (SIs), solution providers or traditional mobile network operators. See the next section for further discussion.
Figure 1: Gradual Rollout of Use Cases
Who Provides the Service?
A variety of businesses can provide enterprise private 5G-as-a-service, including:
- The small but growing number of private 5G service providers who are focused on delivering enterprise private 5G-as-a-service to their customers.
- System integrators who provide turnkey subscription services, supplying, installing, operating, and managing the hardware and software required to run an enterprise private 5G network. Bundling services from a private 5G service provider with computing and networking hardware and software in their product portfolios will create substantial new business opportunities for SIs.
- Industry 4.0 solution providers who offer turnkey subscription services that implement a particular application or use case, e.g., a robotic assembly line. In this case, the private 5G network will be part of an overall package implementing a manufacturing or service delivery capability. Bundling services from a private 5G service provider will be a key enabler for solution providers to implement Industry 4.0 systems and services.
- Traditional mobile network operators who can leverage the spectrum they’ve licensed by providing new enterprise private 5G network services.
No matter which service delivery option a business chooses, it is crucial that the 5G-as-a-service offering they select meets the requirements outlined in “Required Attributes of Private 5G Solutions for Industry 4.0”, a previous post in this blog series.
Because of both the general benefits of XaaS and benefits specific to enterprise private 5G networks supporting Industry 4.0, the as-a-service delivery model is emerging as the ideal way to deploy private 5G networks.
This post, the fifth in a series, is an expanded excerpt from the Ananki white paper “Enabling Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 with Private 5G”. Register to view the complete white paper.
“What is Everything as a Service?” Pure Storage