Benefits of ADCs hold the key to leaving operators ‘thunderstruck’
The challenges facing today’s mobile operators are well documented. The widespread adoption of cloud computing has created significant networking challenges for the operator, including the need to provide self-service capabilities and deliver elastic provisioning of application delivery services.
Lengthy deployment times of new applications across a physical infrastructure can also limit innovation, growth, and in the long-term the quality of experience (QoE) for mobile subscribers. As mobile operators strive to improve the QoE they offer subscribers, as well as lower churn rates in an increasingly competitive space, virtualisation initiatives such as NFV and SDN stand as effective methods of improving efficiencies, and moving operators closer to fully automated networks, says Mikko Disini, director of Product Management, Citrix.
The ability to scale at speed while maintaining consistency and QoE is the holy grail for operators aiming to establish themselves as best-in-class. In order to do so, and to keep pace with the proliferation of OTT services which have become critical to the majority of an operator’s customer base, virtualisation techniques must be deployed. To ensure future success, mobile network operators must find ways to support mass scale at a dramatically lower cost per unit of capacity, while ensuring the ability to evolve different elements of their network at different rates. This is where ADCs (application delivery controllers) come into the picture.
NFV is creating a discontinuity in the mobile industry that is challenging operators to re-architect and rethink their delivery networks. Deployed in cloud networks, ADCs are able to optimise, secure and control the delivery of enterprise and cloud services to the operator, with the resulting effect of improving the end-user experience. With this in mind, software-defined ADCs are able to provide the stepping stone to NFV, at the price/performance point that is in line with the cloud-scale economics that NFV promises.
Another key benefit of deploying an ADC is the addressing of a wide variety of cloud, mobile core network and S/Gi-LAN use cases, a challenge which has mobile operators increasingly scratching their heads. Data plane use cases can include optimisation load balancing, and network services such as subscriber aware traffic steering, TCP optimisation as well as carrier grade NAT. Control plane use cases include LTE DNS, SMPP, SIP, and diameter load-balancing.
As software-based virtual appliances that support widely adopted hypervisors, and run on off-the-shelf servers, ADCs can enable rapid on-demand provisioning in both public and private cloud infrastructures. APIs can be leveraged by leading cloud providers to develop self-service capabilities, dramatically reducing overall deployment cost.
Indeed, operators with cost effectiveness in mind stand to benefit the most from the deployment of an ADC. The ability to deploy an ADC within development, testing and staging environments, prior to promotion into production gives them a competitive edge. This approach supports an improved assurance process and eliminates the cost and logistics of dedicating physical appliances for use within application development areas. Configurations defined in the development lab can easily be moved into production, and this flexibility of the virtual appliance model enables an ADC to be evaluated as part of the full application lifecycle process. All of this contributes to the streamlining of development processes, and cost savings to the operator which can be reinvested in improving a mobile subscriber’s QoE.
Luckily for operators, there are viable ADCs on the marketplace, allowing them to take advantage of the aforementioned cost savings and improvements to efficiencies. We would encourage operators to ask their preferred vendors what they can do to help.
The author of this blog is Mikko Disini, director of Product Management, Citrix.
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