Leverage Private Network Engineering Design – Ericsson

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Ericsson Private 5G is a next-generation private network designed to drive Industry 4.0, infrastructure modernization and digitalization, and business process operations. Businesses benefit from secure and powerful 4G/LTE and 5G Autonomous (SA) connectivity, optimizing and simplifying business operations through data creation, collection and analysis.

When we designed Ericsson Private 5G, we sought to solve the real challenges businesses face when building a modern communications infrastructure with private networks. It should be easy to install and integrate into their operating and computer systems.

Here is a summary of the technical benefits of Ericsson Private 5G to help businesses understand how private networks can positively impact their business with more efficient operations.

  1. Optimized for user experience: with a simple interface without compromising complexity
  2. Uses the basic cloud management structure: allowing businesses to install software in an hour with minimal configuration.
  3. Easily integrates for IT and OT: offering rapid deployment and automatic configuration
  4. Meets radio configuration requirements: designed to deploy radios for various use case demands
  5. Ensures reliable operations: which means less production downtime and saves money
  6. Access Ericsson on a server: Ericsson’s complete 4G/5G product portfolio one server
  7. Quickly adapts to the market: 3 versions per year updated by companies from the management portal without disrupting business operations.
  8. Provides end-to-end security: which guarantees that the data remains protected on site.

Here’s how we thought about our design process, how we solved them, and where we’re going with our product.

Optimizing User Experience with Usability-Driven Design X

We quickly realized that we needed to provide a product that could be installed and managed by a network engineer accustomed to managing other technologies. This led to a design where we had to provide all the complexity of managing, updating and upgrading Ericsson’s networking element. At the same time, we needed to turn all of these network elements into a product with a consistent interface, a way to operate it. We wanted an enterprise-oriented user experience that hid all the included network elements. To ensure we can deliver on these promises, we’ve defined user personas to guide us on how they can interact with Ericsson Private 5G. We’re constantly checking these characters with real users to make sure we’re designing a system that’s really easy to set up and use.

Leverage cloud-based management framework

We decided to use a cloud-based management structure to offer all of Ericsson’s tools in an easy-to-use way from a cloud-based management interface. Much of our effort has focused on simplifying the way users interact with Ericsson Private 5G without compromising the complexity required “under the hood”. Even though the included software is from Ericsson, there are differences in how they perform certain functions, are licensed, etc. With all the complexity in the background, simplicity has been brought to the fore by allowing businesses to install the software in an hour with minimal configuration. We’ve included a uniform infrastructure for configuration management, logging, security, and more. We also had to adapt all our existing software to work within this framework. But they could also enable advanced configurations for use cases, if needed.

Easy integration into the IT and OT environment

Ericsson provides a communications product for businesses that integrates into existing IT and OT infrastructure. Therefore, we needed to adopt a strategy that simplified the integration of Ericsson Private 5G into industrial use cases. This led us to design based on the API both internally in the product and to reuse part of this internal API for integration into IT/OT environments. This ensured a robust and well-tested design with a modern REST-based API.

Businesses use the API to integrate into external management dashboards, asset management systems, configuration systems, and more efficiently. This strategy also allows our resellers/system integrators to easily add value to our solution and generate sales at the same time. We have successfully onboarded many partners using our easy-to-use REST-based API. To ensure performance, privacy, and local survivability, we have a local version of the API. To enable remote configuration and operation, we also have a cloud-based API version.

Automatic device management

Meet radio configuration requirements

The configuration of radio networks in industrial environments can be very difficult because our customers have very high requirements in terms of performance, robustness, availability, etc. Yet we need to cater to simpler, less demanding cases to ensure we have a product that is easy to use and install in cases where radio planning is less complex. To do this, we went with a design where you can deploy radios in different ways.

There are predefined configurations to select from for less demanding use cases, such as a simple warehouse deployment. Once the hardware (HW) is installed, the company is up and running within an hour.

For more demanding use cases where in-depth radio planning is required, we have implemented support for the same toolchain used when deploying our macro networks. This allows experienced radio planners to use their favorite tools and create a radio plan based on Ericsson’s extensive radio portfolio to develop a solution that will support even the most demanding use cases and maximize the use of the spectrum available.

We have integrated support for these use cases into our cloud-based management system. Once these systems are installed, they integrate with our user interface, giving businesses the same way to manage more sophisticated radio planning installations to ensure radio performance in complex environments. This gives customers the best performance with available spectrum for demanding use cases and radio environments.

Ensure reliable operations

Businesses need their communications network to work no matter what. Having an unreliable network is costly and impacts production with downtime and activities. To meet this need, Ericsson Private 5G incorporates Lifecycle Management (LCM) for network functions and the underlying operating system, container layer and firmware to facilitate updating and upgrading. level of the entire communication network for businesses.

To minimize downtime, Ericsson Private 5G offers a two-server configuration operating in an active-active configuration. Each server can support the full load. This provides resilience in the event of hardware failure and keeps downtime close to zero during system updates/upgrades. We force all traffic to one server during an upgrade, update the other server with the new software, then migrate traffic to the newly upgraded server. This ensures that our customers can execute operations without any interruptions. We want to avoid costly site visits as much as possible. The dual-server design helps us ensure remote maintenance, reducing costs for our customers.

Access all of Ericsson on a single server

Ericsson is a technology leader offering a full range of 4G/5G products. We take it all and put it into a single server with an easy-to-use interface, easy-to-understand product packaging and licensing model. We also benefit from all the features, from the radio to the packet kernel, which have already been implemented for many years in Ericsson products. In Ericsson Private 5G, we’ve taken the complexity out of 4G and 5G and delivered everything Ericsson on a single server. Yet the full range of Ericsson radios are available to deliver unparalleled performance for even the most advanced use cases.

The effort we had to make here was to hide the complexity and automate the configuration of the 5G network. This led us to a management model and design choices such as a cloud-based management system, automation of configurations, software upgrades. This is different from how it is done in carrier networks and ensures that enterprise customers can use and manage the product in a way that suits the way they work.

Adapt to the market with agility and speed

The market is changing and we need to learn with our customers what their needs are and develop and update our solutions accordingly. To do this, we have a model with 3 releases per year where we release new features needed by the market. Full-stack software upgrades are automated and scheduled by the company from the management portal. This ensures that the company can update their installation whenever they want and without disrupting their operations.

Provide end-to-end security

End-to-end security is built in from the start, ensuring that data remains on-premises, secure, and inaccessible to third parties. Security has been built into the system from the start and is part of the overall design thinking. The advantage of Ericsson Private 5G is that companies can protect their data on site. It is visible in a special security dashboard for the security administrator, with features ensuring a secure environment such as multi-factor authentication, communication security integrated with a 5G system, penetration testing, etc.

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