NFV Call­ing Tele­com

Ac­cel­er­ated adop­tion of NFV can dra­mat­i­cally re­duce both the cost of build­ing the net­works and the cost of net­work oper­a­tions.

Voice&Data - - CONTENT - Ke­shab Panda [email protected]­ber­me­

Net­work Func­tion Vir­tu­al­iza­tion (NFV) has the po­ten­tial to af­fect sig­nif­i­cant changes in the way tele­com net­works are built and op­er­ated. It has, in re­cent times, be­come a cat­a­lyst for ma­jor trans­for­ma­tional change. Many ser­vice providers, tele­com equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers – all part of an emerg­ing NFV ecosys­tem - have an­nounced proof of con­cepts, live tri­als, and com­mer­cial prod­ucts em­brac­ing the NFV vi­sion. Fo­rums such as the ETSI NFV In­dus­try Spec­i­fi­ca­tion Group and the Open Net­work­ing Fo­rum are pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary struc­tures to sup­port its mo­men­tum and evo­lu­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, ETSI, in the course of defin­ing use cases and roadmap for im­ple­men­ta­tion of NFV, is now defin­ing Proof of Con­cepts (PoCs) to test many hy­pothe­ses sur­round­ing its var­i­ous el­e­ments, with the ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of or­ga­ni­za­tions around the world.

While al­most ev­ery POC has a dif­fer­ent set of goals and aims at a spe­cific do­main, a de­tailed study re­veals that cer­tain work ar­eas have been com­monly cov­ered across mul­ti­ple POCs. Ten ma­jor work ar­eas can be iden­ti­fied, as seen in the ad­join­ing box.

Man­age­ment and Or­ches­tra­tion is the most com­mon work area. This is con­cerned with au­to­ma­tion of the en­tire life­cy­cle man­age­ment in­clud­ing as­pects like in­stan­ti­a­tion, up­grades and ter­mi­na­tion of VNFs, data model dec­la­ra­tion and us­age, VNF health mon­i­tor­ing and re­pair, elas­tic scal­ing of VNFs, vir­tual ma­chine mi­gra­tion, etc.

Core net­work func­tions such as IMS func­tions, LTE EPC (Long-Term Evo­lu­tion Evolved Packet Core), Pol­icy Man­age­ment and S/Gi­LAN func­tions form the sec­ond most pop­u­lar work area.

VNF For­ward­ing Graph and Soft­ware De­fined Net­work­ing (SDN) are the next largest cat­e­gories, bear­ing out the fact that op­er­a­tors see value in lev­er­ag­ing the use of SDN in the NFV space. SDN here refers to POCs that use ex­plicit SDN con­cepts such as sep­a­ra­tion of the Data and Con­trol Planes, us­age of an SDN Con­troller, etc.

In a vir­tu­al­ized en­vi­ron­ment where net­work func­tions are dy­namic and dis­trib­uted, it is im­por­tant that ser­vice qual­ity is main­tained. This is re­flected in the sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of POCs that touch on QoS, QoE and avail­abil­ity/re­siliency con­cepts.

Vir­tu­al­iza­tion of RAN/Base sta­tion net­work func­tions, charg­ing / billing re­lated func­tion­al­i­ties, VNFs in res­i­den­tial de­vices like set-top-boxes, and the use of hard­ware ac­cel­er­a­tors to achieve car­rier grade per­for­mance are some of the other work ar­eas that the POCs ad­dress.

With the rapid growth of rich me­dia ap­pli­ca­tions and the de­crease in voice rev­enues, com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vice providers (CSPs) find them­selves in a po­si­tion of hav­ing to deal with ex­plod­ing net­work traf­fic while their rev­enues stag­nate. More­over they face com­pe­ti­tion from over-the-top play­ers who are ag­ile, flex­i­ble, and able to roll out rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing ser­vices much faster. NFV ap­plies vir­tu­al­iza­tion to the tele­com core net­work func­tions and the as­so­ci­ated core and value-added ap­pli­ca­tions of CSPs, thereby en­abling them to re­duce cost and im­prove time-to-mar­ket.

Ac­cel­er­ated adop­tion of NFV can dra­mat­i­cally re­duce both the cost of build­ing their net­works and the cost of net­work oper­a­tions. NFV en­ables sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits through de­ploy­ment of vir­tu­al­ized net­work ap­pli­ca­tions on shared in­fra­struc­ture, and it brings ad­di­tional ben­e­fits through IT in­clud­ing:

Re­duced Capex and Opex

Re­duced power consumption

Ac­cel­er­ated time-to-mar­ket

Fa­cil­i­ta­tion of net­work ap­pli­ance multi-version and multi-ten­ancy

Tar­geted ser­vice in­tro­duc­tion

Rapid scale-up/scale-down of ser­vices as re­quired

In­creased in­no­va­tion through open­ness

Go­ing for­ward, NFV will trans­form the way that CSPs ar­chi­tect and de­sign parts of their net­works us­ing stan­dard IT vir­tu­al­iza­tion tech­nolo­gies. NFV will al­low them to consolidate many ap­pli­ca­tions and net­work­ing ap­pli­ances onto in­dus­try­s­tan­dard high-vol­ume servers, switches, routers and stor­age.

As more net­work func­tions mi­grate to stan­dard-IT, high-vol­ume server en­vi­ron­ments, the stronger the busi­ness case be­comes for widely de­ploy­ing cloud and IT dat­a­cen­ter con­cepts in the tele­com net­work. From a ser­vice provider per­spec­tive, NFV not only prom­ises Opex sav­ings but also, more im­por­tantly, pro­vides a plat­form for rapid ser­vice de­ploy­ment and mon­e­ti­za­tion, which di­rectly ad­dresses growth mod­els and rev­enue streams.

For equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers, NFV fa­cil­i­tates the de­vel­op­ment of tele­com so­lu­tions with op­ti­mized per­for­mance, soft­ware re­use, in­creased use of open source soft­ware, and ap­pli­ca­tion scal­a­bil­ity in the cloud. On the other hand, NFV will ne­ces­si­tate busi­ness model chal­lenges, specif­i­cally how the lead­ing net­work equip­ment providers charge for their prod­ucts.

NFV is a dis­rup­tive con­cept, in many ways and driv­ing wide­spread adop­tion over the next few years will re­quire sig­nif­i­cant co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ships be­tween ser­vice providers and their IT/ equip­ment sup­pli­ers.

(The au­thor, Dr Ke­shab Panda, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive at L&T Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices, has over 27 years of global in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence in re­search, con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing, cre­at­ing, oper­a­tional­iz­ing and turn­ing around com­plex IT and engi­neer­ing ser­vices busi­nesses. He...

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