For many enterprises, cellular infrastructure is an intimidating subject. I recently sat down virtually with Ozer Dondurmacioglu, VP of Marketing at Celona. Celona is a start-up offering a private 5G cellular networking platform as a service.
Celona’s goal is to make cellular as easy to manage as Wi-Fi within the enterprise. I want to share my takeaways from our conversation, explicitly those that relate to the company’s vision, the challenges associated with private wireless deployments and target use cases.
Celona’s “Edgeless Enterprise” architectural vision aims to simplify connectivity by using a single network overlay to deliver improved policy routing, higher quality of service, security segmentation and a more consistent application experience. Regarding the latter, Mr. Dondurmacioglu and I discussed the fact that applications are built much differently than networking operating systems. This contention often results in the degradation of the user experience. Suppose Celona can resolve the friction and deliver consistency on this front. In that case, it stands to bolster higher knowledge worker productivity, lower IT operational expense and improve staff agility, through a single pane of glass.
5G may be one of the most hyped cellular “Gs,” but the benefits of wire-like throughput and ultra-low latency are undeniable. There has been considerable discussion regarding network slicing dating back to 4G LTE, but 5G’s inherently more virtualized nature will likely make it a reality. Because of this, Celona is leaning fully into 5G. The startup’s micro-slicing capability improves visibility and performance for enterprise workloads that tax current Wi-Fi enterprise networks. From my perspective, the immediate deployment opportunity for private cellular networking is within traditionally unconnected enterprise operational technology (OT) environments, such as manufacturing floors (for machine-to-machine connectivity) and warehousing.
The challenges in deploying private cellular
I have touched on a handful of challenges that have been barriers to private networking adoption, but those obstacles are quickly resolving themselves. Most importantly, the democratization of licensed spectrum through initiatives such as CBRS and OnGo provides cost-effective access to the enterprise. I have written about CBRS in the past, and if interested, you can learn more here.
Mr. Dondurmacioglu and I also spoke about the challenges associated with the disaggregation trend of networking and the need for campus and branch networks to be as agile and close to applications as the traditional data center. The advances in software-defined networking tools are helping to reduce complexity and make networks more resilient, predictable and manageable. To this end, Celona’s recent announcement to support eSIM should simplify the provisioning and management of devices on its private networking platform by eliminating physical SIM card management.
Target use cases
So, what use cases can benefit from the deployment of a private 5G network? Mr. Dondurmacioglu and I agree on three, but there are many more across multiple vertical markets. First, 5G could potentially supercharge warehousing and logistics by leveraging supply chain management and intelligent replenishment. Second, the surveillance sector could leverage the single-digit latency of 5G to deliver high-resolution video that is actionable in almost real time. Third, private 5G can enable smart city applications. To that last point, Celona recently joined the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program to fast-track digital transformation of smart cities and spaces. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon platform will likely be at the heart of many new smart cameras, small cell devices and edge devices that promise to improve safety and municipality efficiencies.
Several infrastructure companies are jumping into the private 5G networking space. In my mind, Celona is a scrappy start-up that appears to be on the right track. It is making 5G easy to deploy and manage, offering the latest features, such as network slicing, through subscription delivery and providing the flexibility for enterprises to treat infrastructure as an operating expense. It is a powerful combination, and I do not doubt that Celona will make a significant contribution to the world of private 5G networking.