This undertaking will allow CommSPs to ride the upward performance curve of Moore’s Law, and take advantage of the flexibility and agility enabled by Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). They can run their workloads on high-volume, industry-standard servers, automate provisioning, increase security and agility, and operate the network more efficiently. The benefits to the CommSP and their customers include improved service delivery, new service delivery opportunities and improved total cost of ownership (TCO).
Created specifically for NFV and SDN implementations, Telco Cloud can satisfy the stringent low latency and high bandwidth requirements of the most demanding telco workloads. Like other telco infrastructure, Telco Cloud is distributed by nature, whereas other “cloud” types are typically centralized for scale-up purposes. Distributed computing power at the edge is important because running services locally helps decrease application decision latency, and improve workload performance and scalability while also reducing the need for costly network traffic transfers.
Let’s look at few examples:
Imagine an enterprise – with the push of a button - adding new services, like a firewall, WAN accelerator, intrusion prevention system (IPS), or customer edge (CE) router, to its branch offices. This is what virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) supported by Telco Cloud is designed to do – allow CommSPs to deliver branch services as quickly and easily as the public cloud delivers applications.
Such a software-based vCPE model is revolutionary as CPE is challenging for providers today. CPE is usually a purpose-built appliance that can be slow and expensive to deploy and, because of its closed architecture, is difficult to scale up and integrate with third-party technologies.
Network transformation, using concepts from NFV and SDN, is about giving CommSPs more applications and services flexibility. The vCPE model does this, helping accelerate new services deployment, reduce service times and cost, provide on-demand service, and implement “Trial Before Buy” sales models.
Flexible Radio Access Network (FlexRAN)
How often are you in a store and would like more information about an item you’re thinking about buying? What if you could just take a photograph with your smart phone, and an app would recognize the object and show detailed information about it, like what materials are in a garment, or whether another store has the item in stock?
This type of augmented reality is made easier by implementing a flexible configuration of a virtual radio access network with mobile edge computing, which Intel terms “FlexRAN”, that runs the service efficiently at the edge of the network rather than saturating the whole network with large amounts of data. It also enables augmented reality applications to run faster because of their close proximity to subscribers and the ability to locally cache relevant information. Using geofencing, retail apps know where customers are, so they can send advertisements and coupons to them to encourage sales.
FlexRAN offers high-density baseband pooling that could run on a distributed Telco Cloud to provide a smart indoor coverage solution and next-generation front haul architecture. This flexible, 5G-ready platform provides the open platform ‘smarts’ for both connectivity and new applications at the edge of the network, along with the developer tools to create these new services. FlexRAN running on Telco Cloud provides low latency compute, storage, and network offload from the edge, thus saving network bandwidth.
Elsewhere in the network, transformation is also beginning to happen in fixed broadband, partly because the way we consume programming and other media content is changing. Not long ago, the TV was the focus of the living room and everyone had to watch the same program at a scheduled time. Today, every mobile device with a screen is a personal TV, and everyone gets to watch what they want, when they want. Add to this the rapidly growing set of services being delivered to the home, and it means operators have to supply more data, doubling approximately every 24 months.2
Historically, this industry hasn’t been nimble due to inflexible network infrastructure, particularly cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) that provide broadband access to home. This equipment is typically custom and purpose-built, so it can take a long while for a vendor to add new services on equipment that wasn’t designed to support them in the first place. Operators have grown impatient with this bolt-on approach that slows down speed and innovation. Plus, they are tired of having to upgrade hardware every few years to meet their ever-increasing capacity requirements.
In the future, fixed broadband functions will be deployed close to subscribers on Trusted Local Clouds that perform the necessary network functions. And operators are envisioning many of the same benefits as telecom, such as faster time to market, lower infrastructure investment, increased scalability, and greater flexibility.
Increasing Service Agility
With Telco Cloud, operators can enhance their existing services and enable new services – all delivered on cost-efficient, cloud infrastructure. It’s also relatively straightforward to put computing power at the edge, where data is kept locally, thus reducing the latency and quickly serving subscribers without the delay around the network.
Delivering the required computing power at the edge, where small footprint and low power are a must places a wide range of demands on the supporting architecture. Beyond computing power, architectural consistency of key supporting technologies such as hardware support for virtualization provides the CommSP the needed agility to place a workload in the most optimal part of their infrastructure based on the required KPIs/SLAs. Products such as the Intel® Xeon® processor D-1500 family, representing a number of system-on-chip (SoCs), bring the worlds of cloud and edge together.
For more information about Telco Cloud, watch this webcast: Telco Cloud: Driving Service Transformation in the Telecommunications Industry.
You can follow Lynn on Twitter @Comp_Lynn.
1“ The Future of Virtualization Index Report,” Heavy Reading, January 2016, http://www.heavyreading.com/details.asp?sku_id=3434&skuitem_itemid=1672.
2 Nick Cadwgan and Keith Lissak, “Transforming the Network Edge in the Cable Hub,” 2013, Preface.