It’s surprising how quickly telco cloud is moving from concept to reality as more and more communications service providers see it as essential to grow their business. By increasing the automation and agility of their networks, they can take advantage of their proximity to customers, and established billing and service models. Just as important, telco cloud delivers the flexibility needed to meet emerging service demands and more effectively add value in an over-the-top (OTT) cloud service market.
NFV at the core
One key piece of this transformation is network function virtualization (NFV), which enables network functions and services to be deployed and managed on demand. This approach provides greater flexibility, agility, and scalability than traditional architectures through a nimble software-based service delivery model. This year, we’re seeing commercial NFV-based deployments on the heels of last year’s successful field trials.
Industry support for NFV
Are communications service providers committed to NFV? The majority definitely see the strategic value of NFV. According to a Heavy Reading survey, sixty-one percent saw NFV as essential or very important in the next two years, with that number jumping to 75 percent in the next three to five years.1
Why telco cloud?
I saw firsthand the advantages of automation on Intel platforms during my four years working in cloud and enterprise solutions. Data center managers were able to more easily satisfy their customer demands for on-the-spot application development and secure deployment through private cloud, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Similarly, operators can take advantage of telco cloud to increase the value and ease of use for their services. This is made possible by a few key capabilities:
• Distributed infrastructure
Communications service providers and operators can offer a superior user experience by locating services where they will perform best – at the edge, in the network, or in the data center. Improved proximity can also be used to reduce latency and open the door to new, innovative services.
• End-to-End control
Telco cloud overcomes the limited visibility and control many operators face and can increase end-to-end control of networks, enabling improved SLA compliance across networks and services, instant customization, and automated customer control.
Operators can enhance their brand and existing customer relationships (e.g., services, billing, and support) by locating new services in distributed clouds near individual customers.
Telco cloud gives operators greater agility by running on open standard platforms based on commercial off-the shelf hardware that is supported by a wide assortment of development environments. This paradigm promotes a strong software ecosystem, thereby increasing choices for third-party services and making partnership models easier. In addition, more flexible service models can be supported, like free trials and freemiums.
The Control Center of NFV architecture
The orchestration layer is a critical component in developing an agile software-based service delivery model. In an NFV context, it provides an abstraction layer between the physical infrastructure and operator network applications, such as media streaming, Internet access, policy, and location services.
A key benefit is an application’s service requests are communicated as functional requirements instead of appliance-specific commands. This abstraction enables automation and simplicity in managing large-scale infrastructure. In essence, the network operator configures this simplified network abstraction rather than having to hand code tens of thousands of lines of configuration scattered among thousands of devices.
At the same time, new capabilities in the orchestration layer will deliver a significant performance boost and lower cost through higher and more optimized infrastructure utilization. For example, the orchestrator will be able to detect platform capabilities, referred to as enhanced platform awareness, allowing telco cloud operators and administrators to programmatically match server capabilities (e.g., high bandwidth cryptography) to the specific requirements of a network function – in this case, a firewall.
At Mobile World Congress
These capabilities will be on exhibit at Mobile World Congress 2016, where China Mobile and Telefónica will demonstrate orchestration capabilities of two emerging open source communities, both running on Intel-based platforms. China Mobile will show how communications service providers gain flexibility by decoupling the NFV orchestrator (NFVO), the virtual network function (VNF) manager, and virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM). The solution, with support from an industry partner, implements open-source orchestration.
Telefónica will also demonstrate an NFV management and orchestration stack that shows how an initial set of multi-vendor, open source code can be combined to enable a multi-VIM, multi-site environment implementation capable of on-boarding single and multi-tenant VNFs.
Visit Us at MWC
Come to the Intel booth Intel | Hall 3 Stand 3D30 to learn more about the exciting new opportunities around telco cloud, NFV, and SDN.