5G Mobile Core Convergence – Portfolio Differentiation May Determine Winners and Losers

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Converged core software solutions promise to support all generations of network traffic, reduce complexity, and deliver operational efficiency by leveraging automation and network intelligence.

• Hardware and software acceleration can dramatically improve server performance by offloading data plane traffic from servers, enabling them to focus on computation and storage functions; and open source software contributions can add consistency and optimize software processes.

At MWC Shanghai 2019 in late June, executives representing network operators and infrastructure vendors will gather to share their visions of the mobile industry and discuss current and future trends. The event will provide an ideal opportunity for vendors and operators to offer a progress report on 5G core initiatives, a topic that was front and center at MWC Barcelona in February. Continue reading “5G Mobile Core Convergence – Portfolio Differentiation May Determine Winners and Losers”

The Vibrant 5G Ecosystem is Shortening Adoption Cycles to Two Years

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• A robust ecosystem is driving 5G deployments to support enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and fixed wireless access (FWA) use cases, which sets the stage for sophisticated 5G applications requiring low latency and high reliability.

• The 5G device ecosystem is being driven by timely investment in new chipsets and terminals to support new services and drive opportunities – the 5G device ecosystem includes multiple form factors and end user devices, which are ready or near ready for commercial deployment.

The Well Developed 5G Device Ecosystem, Simplifies and Accelerates Deployment:

There is a clear correlation between the maturity of the device ecosystem and the time it takes for the market to deliver on the goals and business objectives. For example, the 3rd generation (3G) buildout, required five years to build a sufficient supply of affordable devices, and the 4th generation (4G) buildout, required just two years. The availability of 5G devices now, enables the market to mature in concert with the underlying infrastructure buildout. Continue reading “The Vibrant 5G Ecosystem is Shortening Adoption Cycles to Two Years”

Ciena Sharpens Its Focus on Network Automation, Creates a Separate Blue Planet Division

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Ciena can now promote Blue Planet as an independent automation solution which can assist operators to create new services, automate service orders, and reduce O&M complexity.
  • Separating Blue Planet’s priorities from those of Ciena’s equipment business, packet and optical transport, enables it to better address multivendor network transformation opportunities.

Ciena noted in its Q4 2018 financial reporting that several mega trends were affecting its business: an increased need for greater bandwidth and what it termed ‘adaptive automation.’ In a recent (February 2019) blog post, the company announced its intent to form a separate independent operating division focused on providing intelligent automation solutions. A key question is: why establish a separate operating division for Ciena software and services? Continue reading “Ciena Sharpens Its Focus on Network Automation, Creates a Separate Blue Planet Division”

China Unicom and Cisco Collaborate to Deliver Cloud + Network Capabilities

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

Segment Routing Deployed in a Backbone Network: Cisco and China Unicom collaboration, a two year endeavor, enables the operator’s nationwide MPLS VPN network to support on-demand services. Cisco notes that this represents China’s first Segment Routing (SR) deployment and leverages its SDN technologies to provide an end-to-end solution. SR also helps mitigate the use of more complicated IP protocols (like RSVP-TE), which is a big advantage and leverages the power of SDN’s centralized management model. .

Advanced Vendor Services Accelerated Delivery: Cisco’s Advanced Services teams provided full life cycle support and coordination with China Unicom and third-party suppliers, and tackled SDN, NFV, cloud computing, ultra-broadband networking, and related technology issues for the operator. The use of vendor supplied services has always been part of the “vendor – operator” model, but virtualized technologies pose additional time-to-market issues such as mastering new technologies and dealing with the complexity of integrating multiple components.

The announcement by Cisco and China Unicom represents a tangible example of how current infrastructure networks can be transformed to deliver flexible cloud-based services by exploiting new routing and networking techniques, such as segment routing which aligns well with centralized management and control (i.e., SDN) paradigms. What makes the solution significant is the combination of multiple technologies, SR, SDN controllers, service orchestration, and the ability to quickly compute optimal traffic paths through an IP network using a path computation engine (PCE). Individual components on their own cannot deliver the resultant end-to-end solution, which supports China Unicom’s ability to offer a range of named cloud-based services (Cloud Network Connection, Cloud Networking, Cloud Broadband, Unicom Cloud Shield, Intelligent Boutique Video Network, and Boutique Financial Network) which it noted in a joint press release with Cisco. Continue reading “China Unicom and Cisco Collaborate to Deliver Cloud + Network Capabilities”

MWC18: Juniper Expands its “Bots” Portfolio with the Contrail Slicing Bot, Helping to Automate More Complexity

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

Automates Complex Network Slicing Process: The Contrail Network Slicing Bot aims to simplify the highly complex process of defining, creating, provisioning and managing network slicing across both physical and virtual infrastructures. Network slicing is a fundamental tenet of all 5G architectures.

Addresses Skill Set Shortage: Juniper’s network Bots, including the Slicing Bot, help alleviate the lack of internal staff education and higher level skillsets required to use network automation tools, which are often complex and require deep network knowledge. The Slicing Bot uses a high level human friendly language to translate operator intent into actionable workflows.

Juniper’s “Slicing Bot” launch enables operators to leverage technologies such as machine learning, network telemetry and SDN control, to help reduce the complexity they face as they attempt to deploy virtual networks to meet the growing demand for faster time-to-service. The new Contrail Slicing Bot joins three other Bots, which the company launched in December 2017. The Bots enable operators to operate at a business level (i.e., intent) to help automate complex network functions that are often error prone and time consuming due to manual processes and the lack of operational skills. The three initial Bot applications offered by Juniper included PeerBot, TestBot and HealthBot, which address key pain points for operators; the new Slicing Bot tackles the highly complex, but essential process of carving up the network into virtual slices, a fundamental building block for supporting 5G services. Continue reading “MWC18: Juniper Expands its “Bots” Portfolio with the Contrail Slicing Bot, Helping to Automate More Complexity”

Webscales Yield Heavy Market Influence: Google, Facebook and Others Driving Network Equipment Roadmaps

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• Webscale influence on new product developments is being felt in data center interconnect and massively scalable switching and transport gear.

• Traditional telcos, however, are using these new Webscale-driven platforms to retool their own networks and prepare to deliver more agile services to protect their service base.

Since the first public networks were built, incumbent telcos like Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and AT&T have ruled network equipment roadmaps and investments – dictating the features, operation and capabilities of new networking products. However, more recently Webscale operators are the influencers. Whereas vendors had been focused on providing the high capacity and broad coverage required by rapid smartphone adoption and a massive increase in video traffic, the focus has steadily turned to support massive, low-latency throughput between the data centers that serve the most popular brands on the Internet, dubbed FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon). Traditional network operators are scrambling to adapt to this change in service delivery focus, and better prepare their networks for the emerging 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) era.
Continue reading “Webscales Yield Heavy Market Influence: Google, Facebook and Others Driving Network Equipment Roadmaps”

MWC Shanghai 2017: ZTE Addresses ‘5G Network Slicing Backhaul’ Requirements with New Solution

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Introduces Slicing for Backhaul: The ZXCTN 609 supports separate backhaul slices (tunnels), each with independent performance characteristics, meeting 5G demands for low-latency, high-speed, flexible connections.
  • 100G Backhaul Link Support: The ZXCTN 609 expands ZTE’s Flexhaul series to support 100G links to handle expected high-bandwidth 5G backhaul speeds, with high-availability features such as protection switchover and SDN control.

ZTE leveraged this year’s MWC Shanghai 2017 to further its stake in the emerging 5G infrastructure market by expanding its Flexhaul series backhaul platform to support 100G links. 100G is needed to cope with the massive capacity requirements expected as 5G comes to life in the next few years. The ZXCTN 609 also includes the company’s FlexE tunnel technology, which it announced as part of the ZXCTN 6180H launch, bringing the equivalent of network slicing to the backhaul network. ‘Flexibility’ is clearly the focus, with FlexE supporting a variety of service characteristics for applications such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (uRLLC), which have vastly different transport requirements. ZTE has collaborated closely with multiple operators to craft mobile network solutions that meet a range of application types and capacities. In addition to being visible in China Mobile and Ncell Axiata, ZTE successfully completed tests in seven major scenarios that are part of the second phase of China’s national 5G tests and set multiple records for network speeds and performance. Continue reading “MWC Shanghai 2017: ZTE Addresses ‘5G Network Slicing Backhaul’ Requirements with New Solution”