Intel is proud of our long-standing relationships with The Linux Foundation on projects, such as FD.io, ONAP and OPNFV, and other collaborations, including OpenStack, OpenDaylight and Open Compute Project (OCP) among others. Today I will highlight a recent project with these organizations, lead from OPNFV. We set out to measure the total cost of ownership (TCO) reductions a communication service provider (CommSP) could experience by virtualizing a central office and customer premises equipment (CPE) to deliver enterprise services.
One of the key findings is that OPNFV enterprise virtual central office (VCO) concept helps CommSPs deliver enterprise services at up to 43 percent lower TCO. You can download the resulting paper, titled “OPNFV VCO TCO Solution Brief: A Virtual Central Office Results in Reduced Total Cost of Ownership.”
Next Generation Central Office or Virtual Central Office: Applying NFV and SDN to COs
There are almost 20,000 central offices in the United States alone, each physically located within ten miles of enterprise, residential and mobile customers. A recent Intel blog focuses on the various benefits of virtualizing the central office, converging Mobile, Enterprise, Residential and Cable networks, a concept Intel calls the Next Generation Central Office. In the interest of aligning industry terms and definitions, OPNFV refers to this concept as a Virtual Central Office.
Limitations of Fixed-Function Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)
CommSPs offer a broad range of managed enterprise services, such as routing, firewall, carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT), session border control (SBC), virtual private network (VPN), Wide Area Network (WAN) traffic control and others. To deliver these services requires a CPE that is located on a customer’s premise. Each device is typically fixed-function and supports a discrete service or function, which leads to a proliferation of hardware and software to support multiple enterprise services.
These installations are expensive, labor intensive and time-consuming, hardware is not easily upgradable and cannot be repurposed, and the timeline for developing and delivering innovative new services is far too protracted. That is changing, and NFV and SDN are the catalysts driving the development and deployment of universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) solutions.
Supporting uCPE Options with Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN)
uCPE presents a tremendous opportunity for CommSPs to deliver an array of corporate services by running a combination of virtualized and/or bare metal-based (non-virtualized) services on a single CPE device. Today CommSPs are leveraging bare metal SD-WAN to support most CPE deployments. The industry has identified SD-WAN as a key use case for NFV-based services for several key reasons. First, SD-WAN can be deployed as an overlay network on the legacy infrastructure. Next, the SDN controller may reside in the cloud or data center and support automation of service provisioning to each uCPE end-point. Finally, the characteristics of this software-defined infrastructure support CommSPs in scaling these virtualized services.
CommSPs have two configuration options for uCPE deployments. The thin uCPE deployment model relies on hosting all virtual network functions (VNFs) and services in a remote data center, central office, cable headend or cloud, making the customer premises device less expensive. A thick uCPE deployment places highly programmable, commodity-based hardware at the customer site to host VNFs with ancillary VNFs remotely managed over WANs. This deployment model truly does eliminate multiple physical appliances with what amounts to a single server.
A VCO or NGCO makes it possible for a CommSP to support either the thin or thick uCPE deployment model. The good news is that Intel solutions provide the flexibility to support both, so it’s time to explore the available options in networks, products and services in order to fine-tune the ideal approach for your business and customers.
OPNFV: Virtualization drives TCO reduction for CommSPs to deliver enterprise services
The OPNFV TCO project focused on a thin vCPE deployment model where a broad set of VNFs, including software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), VPN, firewall, router, CGNAT, SBC, WAN traffic control, reside in the VCO. The demo replicated four sub-scenarios (SME, Small Enterprise, Medium Enterprise and Large Enterprise) across Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the United States.
Not surprisingly, the two areas of CapEx and OpEx cost reductions were around hardware and staff hours required to sell, deploy and maintain a service over a five-year period. Deploying a uCPE to a large enterprise delivers overall savings between 32 and 39 percent when compared to traditional CPE deployments, including up to 90 percent reduction in hardware costs.
The OPNFV TCO study is a great start to understand the benefits of a new approach to enterprise solution delivery.
Heather Kirksey, vice president of OPNFV, recently joined me on the Intel Chip Chat podcast for a conversation on the TCO project. Tune in
I encourage you to dig even deeper into a recent solution brief, based on a PA Consulting Group study commissioned by Intel and one of our European CommSP partners, titled “The Benefits of Virtual CPE – Business User.”
Intel’s Investment in Broad Industry Ecosystems
In addition to our partnership with the open source community, we are delivering value through education, promotion and collaboration with the Intel® Network Builders ecosystem. We have encouraged product and solution innovations to accelerate technology readiness with the new Intel® Select Solutions for uCPE, a reference design to help the ecosystem deliver verified uCPE solutions. Several companies have announced plans to deliver commercial products in the coming months under the Intel Select Solutions for uCPE brand. Similarly, we launched Intel® Select Solutions for NFVI in October 2017 with a wave of companies that have introduced pre-configured and verified NFVI solutions since then. This spring we launched an initiative called the Intel Network Builders edge program, comprised of almost 40 members focused on applying cloud and virtualization concepts beyond core network data centers.
We encourage you to use these papers to develop your own business models for the virtualization of central offices, CPE and enterprise services. Join us in our efforts to transform the industry wherever it makes sense you – whether as part of the Intel Network Builders ecosystem, your open source initiative, including OPNFV, industry conferences or other forums.
Learn more about our work on Next Generation Central Offices at www.intel.com/NGCO
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