A focus on architecture is the way to manage large-scale system development and network evolution, both from functional and implementation aspects. It is also the key to handling R&D in a world of emerging decentralized and cooperative business models.

One fundamental architectural principle is the separation of concerns, which minimizes dependencies between subsystems so they can then develop independently, while at the same time providing the necessary synchronization. The architecture-driven approach unifies two important aspects: it provides the fundamental basis for formal analysis and verification, whilst at the same time enabling creative and effective discussions that shape future systems.

 

Evolution of the converged network

Image: Evolution of the converged network

This analysis is also the way to ensure that the systems we build excel not only in functionality and manageability, but also in terms of performance. Architecture is a way of addressing the fact that different usage scenarios present different kinds of performance requirements: the system needs to be flexible enough to handle an extremely wide range of use cases.

With the requirements from multiple industries and individuals in the Networked Society, combined with emerging technology enablers, both networks and the way we build solutions are evolving rapidly. As a result, networks are becoming more flexible and are being built to support multiple services over multiple access technologies. This is basically what leads to the need for the network slicing concept. This drives horizontalization in many dimensions, requiring software-defined mechanisms in different areas. End-to-end architecture is therefore vital to manage large-scale system development.

Good architecture is one that survives the test of requirements and technology evolution. Also, it enables efficient decision-making when speed of development is essential. The key to creating it is the ability to draw the right conclusions based on experience and foresight. Here lies one of the reasons why a sound architecture is always a recognized goal but sometimes hard to achieve: you need to be able to gather, articulate and interpret the experiences and you need to dare to predict the evolution of technology with certain success.

Ericsson is continuously working on all levels to establish and evolve the total system architecture. This is critically dependent on active cooperation between the involved domain experts, often in close cooperation with our customer and partner counterparts. It is also important to set up a framework where parts can evolve independently to increase speed and innovation.

A recent example is how we have applied the collective knowledge across the company to ensure that the multi-access and multiservice aspects of 5G are well understood also in terms of how the whole network cooperates to deliver optimal performance: radio, fixed, core, transport, virtualized infrastructure, communications, media delivery, IoT applications and – last but by no means the least – the OSS/BSS capabilities.

Reflections by Ericsson

Learn about the latest telecom, datacom, IT, media and IoT trends with these articles from Ericsson technology leaders. They will share insights and reflections about architecture, design, research, security, standardization and strategy.

Mats Karlsson

Written by:

Mats Karlsson
VP and Head of Architecture & System Management, Ericsson CTO Office

Mats has a MSc in Applied Physics from the Linköping Institute of Technology, Sweden and an MSc in Telecommunications from Aston University, UK. Since joining Ericsson in 1989 he has been working in several senior managerial positions on the development of telecom platforms and mobile systems. His current role is being responsible for network and product architecture on Ericsson level reporting to CTO.