Introduction to Private Networking


Private networks are taking on greater importance in vertical-specific uses cases such as manufacturing, mining, and transport logistics. These involve diverse ecosystems, technologies, and environments. Automated validation, acceptance, and lifecycle testing, along with automated assurance solutions, are essentials for success.

The global 5G rollout – complemented by the growing adoption of edge computing, and enhanced automation is paving the way for an explosive growth in private networks (PNs). For industries the economic viability of private networks is driven by the desire for business transformation and competitive advantage.

According to research by Analysys Mason and STL Partners, the three vertical industries leading this trend as early adopters in private networking are:

  1. Manufacturing

  2. Utilities including mining, oil, and gas

  3. Transport and logistics

Combined, they represent 80 percent of the private networking market. Analysys Mason also identifies financial industries in this early adopter group. In addition, major network equipment manufacturers, cloud providers, system integrators, and operators such as Telefónica are intent on servicing the needs of these verticals with collaborative offerings aimed at making private networks easy to order, deploy, manage, and scale.

Modern networking and cloud technologies provide unprecedented flexibility and capabilities to create private networks that address the diverse and stringent requirements for a broad range of industry verticals. Ensuring these requirements are met effectively and comprehensively is an objective all adopters share, despite the variety of use cases they employ. To achieve this, comprehensive testing solutions should be in place, with testing strategy planning occurring as early as possible in the development process. It cannot be tacked on afterward as an afterthought. Too much is at stake.

What is private networking?

Private networks can support diverse industry applications, use cases, and environments. They comprise multi-technology, multi-vendor, multi-service provider, and multi-domain infrastructure and services. Private networks may be tailored and managed based on the needs of diverse applications, users, and environments.

Occupying a broad ecosystem of traditional solution suppliers, service providers, and systems integrators, cloud service providers, and technology innovators, private networking enables industries, including government and education verticals, to achieve targeted business outcomes including cost reduction and expanded operational capabilities. The confluence of wireless networks (such as 5G, 4G LTE, and Wi-Fi), edge computing, and telco cloud-hosted managed security, orchestration, automation, and management delivers unprecedented agility and cost-effectiveness for vertical industries.

A private network topology

With such a broad range of prospective suppliers, there is fierce competition for technology, market, and customer leadership. For communication service providers (CSPs) and mobile network services, private networks offer the opportunity to monetize substantial 5G investments.

Critical success factors and challenges

Private networks are all about applications and use cases that foster new business outcomes and enhanced revenue realization. The research cited above revealed that each vertical has its own diverse set of defined use cases. The leading-edge industries investing in PNs are pursuing unique journeys and innovating at individual paces.

The following is a brief example of some of the use cases being prioritized:

  • Manufacturing deployments are being driven by a need for monitoring real-time precision and control.

  • Energy and utility rollouts require real-time collaboration and control of remotely operated equipment.

  • Transport and logistics applications demand advanced predictive equipment maintenance and efficient traffic management.

  • Financial services are all about transaction speed and real-time fraud detection.

Harnessing and managing the relevant strengths offered by the ecosystem of PN providers is a growing objective for successful industry adoption. New commercial models that entail risk sharing and incentives are part of the process. Enabling the broad range of technologies and managing the resultant complexity is the challenge, and an important component of addressing that challenge is having a state-of-the-art, end-to-end, robust, and flexible test, assurance, and automation strategy in place.

Test and assurance objectives for private networking

Despite the variety of configurations that may manifest, at a high level, test and assurance of private networks must provide reliable, automated, and continuous validation that a particular PN solution performs as planned and throughout its lifetime to deliver effectively on its business objectives. Key elements of a private network test and assurance strategy should include:

Automated validation, acceptance, and lifecycle testing:

  • Network domains (RAN, Core, Cloud & Transport) automated and continuous testing provides a seamless and efficient framework to validate and revalidate a multi-vendor network for compliance, interoperability, performance, resilience, and ongoing change management.

  • Security efficacy testing provides a differentiator and value add. The testing strategy should provide proactive and continuous security and privacy testing and validation. It should also offer secure slices within an isolated PN or, as a safe alternative to ensure lower TCO. Secure slices should account for zoning to align and integrate with industry compliance requirements and policies. This testing solution should combine wireless network (4G, 5G, Wi-Fi) with enterprise security (Secure SD-WAN/SASE/ZT) for end-to-end security across on-premises, edges, endpoints, and work-from-home environments.

  • Performance characterization field testing provides unique performance visibility and perceived experience from the end-user/application perspective. Combined with diagnostic capture it provides the relevant insights to optimize the network for SLA adherence.

Automated assurance:

  • Network and SLA management active testing proactively monitors the network, services and SLAs. Utilizing automated active test agents to proactively test and monitor for performance and quality, while rapidly identifying and isolating issues before they impact SLAs, and continuously re-validating efficacy after updates and changes.

These essential elements of an advanced test and assurance strategy are table stakes for success and allow you to accelerate the safe adoption of private networks, reduce capital and operational costs and assure business outcomes and SLA adherence.

Closing thoughts

Private networks are projected to become a significant portion of all network investments, driven by application-driven use cases to deliver business outcomes. However, significant complexity and risk must be managed to achieve those objectives. Only with the right partner and advanced test and assurance strategy in place is that possible.

Read the report Accelerating Private Networking Value Creation or watch the webinar Developing Achievable SLAs for 5G Private Networks to learn more.




Marc Cohn
Marc Cohn

Principal Technology Strategist for Virtualization

Marc works for Spirent's strategy organization helping to define technical direction in the Virtualization segment. He has been a major contributor to the SDN and NFV community, as the former VP of Network Strategy for The Linux Foundation, the Executive Director for the OPEN-Oopen orchestration project (since merged into the ONAP project), Market Area Director and ONF Fellow for the Open Networking Foundation (ONF), an advisor to the Chair of the ETSI NFV ISG, and Silver Member representative (and Treasurer) for the OpenDaylight Board of Directors. He has also held a number of executive roles in strategy and marketing at ClearPath Networks, Ciena Corporation and IP Infusion, among others. Most recently, Marc was appointed as co-chair of the MEF Certification Committee and joined the MEF Leadership Team. Join the conversation and connect with Marc on LinkedIn or follow on her on Twitter at @mdcohn