Software defined access networks are all about the journey: Part 2
Gradual evolution for real benefits
Many industry players will point to the time it will take for standards to develop as a reason to hurry ahead with virtualisation projects but this might generate hurdles in achieving interoperability in the future.
One of the key advantages of SDN, says Filip de Greve, product marketing manager at Nokia, is optimising the end-to-end behavior across different technology domains. SDN is all about the centralisation of functions and bringing different areas of the network together.
As a result, there is a risk of virtualisation becoming much more complex in the future. That’s why our collaboration extends to helping operators bridge the virtualisation gap. In other words, transition from a traditional network, through a hybrid stage and to finally realise a software-defined telco environment on modern cloud platforms.
Our aim is to simplify for the overall benefit of operators, focusing on tangible benefits and proven use-cases. Our G.fast virtualisation solution with NETCONF/YANG-enabled micro-nodes, for example, delivers a 50% faster roll out through automation and zero-touch provisioning. Our unified access solution with Gainspeed brings an eight-fold reduction in power and a seven-fold reduction in floor space in cable head-ends with a virtualised Converged Cable Access Platform.
Rather than taking a forklift approach, we believe transition is key as operators need to evolve their networks. Our approach will allow carriers to reap the benefits of SDN without disrupting or overhauling current operations. As operators invest in modern cloud platforms, seamless integration via open and programmable APIs is key as networks needs to operate in open frameworks or within third party constellations.
Regardless of the type or part of network, we have three key principles which we follow when working with operators on virtualisation:
- Software-defined control to increase automation and network programmability
- Distribution of functions which can be deployed embedded or virtualised or in cloud to manage more subscribers and more capacity at the lowest total cost of ownership
- Phased evolution by adding a software controller to seamlessly deploy with existing OSS
A new way of working
This evolutive and collaborative approach extends to all areas of our work. At Nokia, we don’t only optimise the access network; we also converge networks for mobile services and fitting into the end-to-end SDN vision for programmable networks with the routing and IP layers, applied in data center, WAN and enterprise cloud environments.
A prime example of convergence in the access network is network slicing. Network slicing uses virtualisation to split the physical access network into a number of virtual network slices, opening up an operator’s infrastructure to host other providers – Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) – or to partition the access network for different services.
Initially, the primary benefit was to increase competition by lowering the cost barrier to entry, allowing network wholesalers to encourage or governments to enforce, more choice for consumers. Today it is just as likely to be about cooperation. Deploying next-generation broadband to meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth services is a costly endeavor.
Cooperation strategies are important to decrease the investment risk and accelerate ultra-broadband deployments. Software-defined approaches based on new paradigms such as NETCONF/YANG provide more flexibility and allow the network to be sliced with greater granularity. This leads to better services for customers, lower costs for operators, and increases the possibilities of co-investment in or sharing of next-generation fixed access infrastructure.
The author of this blog is Filip de Greve, product marketing manager at Nokia
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