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5G networks will be characterized by their diversity in terms of traffic patterns, multi-tenancy and heterogeneous and stringent traffic requirements. Network softwarization is a key enabler to cope with such management burden, as it provides the ability to control all networking functions through (re)programming, thus providing higher flexibility to meet heterogeneous requirements while keeping deployment and operational costs low. In this article, we aim at experimentally validating how Software Defined Networking (SDN) concepts can greatly simplify network operation in future 5G operator networks. This simplification is achieved by allowing to very easily create and modify network services and thus customize network operation based on the operator's requirements. The main contribution of this article is to present a prototype of an SDN-based architecture in a real-life test-bed, where we evaluate the associated implementation costs and we confirm through experimentation that novel complex services can be created with relatively low effort. (C) 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.