End-to-End 5G Network Slicing Using ONAP

5G network slicing holds tremendous promise in terms of allowing services with completely different characteristics to share a particular 5G network. Even in a private 5G network, enterprises will be able to use the network for multiple applications. When we talk about a 5G network, there are typically three components that come into play:

  • Radio Access Network
  • Transport Network
  • Core Network

When we say we are creating a slice, the slice needs to be created end-to-end across these three domains: RAN slice, Transport slice, and Core slice.

Figure 1: Different Components of a Network Slice

The Linux Foundation Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) provides comprehensive support for end-to-end network slicing. It can be used to create a slice and configure the above three domains and/or spin up new instances of network functions. The slice can be activated once we have set the different configuration parameters.

The diagram below shows a high-level 3rd Generation Private Partnership (3GPP) view of how a network slice should look the different constituent components:

Figure 2: A Variety of Communication service instances provided by multiple NSIs

ONAP can be used to design network slice template and then an operator can order a slice using APIs or a graphical user interface via the communication service management function (CSMF). Next, the network slice management function (NSMF) chooses the network slice instance and hands off the actual domain specific tasks to specific RAN, Core, or Transport network slice subnet management function (NSSMF). External NSSMFs are also supported.

To see a thorough explanation of these concepts and to see a recording of a hands-on demo using ONAP's upcoming Honolulu release, view a recording of our End-to-End Network Slicing technical meetup from two weeks ago (1 hour at 1x speed). If you don't have the time, you can watch just the demo portion of the meetup (10 minutes at 1x speed).

A surprisingly large number of companies want to try ONAP network slicing in their labs. If you are one of these companies, and need some help, feel free to contact us.

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