DDI Automation for 5G - Three overlooked use cases

by Paul Adair, Infoblox Principal Product Manager


The network evolution from 4G, to non-standalone (4G/5G), to pure or standalone 5G has begun for many large mobility service providers. The overwhelming scale of that evolution drives a strong need for automation. Automation of DNS, DHCP, and IPAM (DDI) is foundational, but many often overlook the need for DDI in the rollout of 5G radios, the next-gen 5G core, and the new session management function. This blog post has examples of DDI automation for each of these use cases. 


IPAM/DHCP for 5G New Radio


With the introduction of millimeter-wave radio and the upgrade of existing radio tower sites to 5G, the number of 5G radios installed will be much higher than 4G. With 4G and earlier, many service providers used expensive truck rolls with specialized technicians to install each radio. With 5G, the automation of these processes is important. Integration of DHCP and DNS constitute a significant part of an automated bare-metal provisioning process for 5G Radio deployment.


As an example of this process, a contract worker can be used for radio deployment. This starts with the contractor physically installing a new radio. Following that installation, he can use an operations support system/business support system (OSS/BSS) integrated app to scan the serial number and MAC/DUID of the radio. From there, the OSS/BSS can inform Infoblox DDI of those values and automatically create appropriate DNS and DHCP records. The radio can use those records to locate bare-metal provisioning services and be configured automatically. Previously a highly skilled installer had to request IPAM and DNS via tickets and manually populate the radio configuration by hand.


Automation for 5G New Radio.png


IPAM Network Assignment for SMF


In 4G, IP address assignment for user equipment (UE) was handled by the packet gateway (PGW). For 5G, this is moving to the newly created session management function (SMF). The instantiation of SMFs in 5G are automated via orchestrators and containerized network function managers (cNFM). The IPv4/v6 network ranges used to lease addresses to UE will need to be assigned/reclaimed in an automated fashion. As with the previous scenario, the assignment of these network ranges was often done by ticketing to the IPAM team for network assignment/reclamation.

In our example scenario, we are showing the automated IPAM lifecycle of an SMF. Automated IPAM assignment is invoked for initial network assignment and reclamation when the SMF is terminated.


SMF Instantiation Termination.png


Automated DNS for 5G Core

For 5G, a new network core is being built alongside the existing core with new and parallel functions. Founded on the principles of cloud-native computing with a fully automated lifecycle, this new core replaces dedicated protocols with modern service-based architecture (SBA). It also replaces the legacy gateway selection process with a new network repository function (NRF). This new function provides a common place for all service registration and discovery. Both the new SBA communication and the NRF service discovery depend heavily on DNS for authentication of encrypted communication and fully qualified domain name (FQDN) to IP resolution. All 5G functions will require automated DNS registration to operate.


In our example scenario, we are showing the automated DNS lifecycle of an SMF. Specifically, its registration with DNS, DNS resolution of NRF, subsequent registration of its FQDN with NRF, and finally the SMF being discovered by an access and mobility management (AMF) for UE control and user plane separation (CUPS) usage.


Automated DNS for 5G Network Functions.png


With these automated functions coming in 5G, centralized visibility and reporting are no longer optional. These automated processes involve many disparate systems, and early failure scenarios are likely. Automated altering and remediation from a single point of DDI control can minimize the impact of these failures and decrease the time to recovery for DNS, DHCP, and IPAM issues.


These are just a few of the critical use cases for DDI in 5G. As the 5G standards continue to evolve, we will cover other topics like DDI automation for network slicing, inter-public land mobile network (PLMN) communication, and mobile edge computing.


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