The SDN/NFV topic addresses the move to improve service velocity and simply network management thanks to the introduction of software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies.
• Operators are challenged to build access networks that transition from the 1G era to meet 10/100/400G service expectations. It is not only a bandwidth issue, but one of sustainability, flexibility, and the adaptability to deliver 5G services.
• Nokia’s move to adapt its FPcx silicon to fuel a new range of access and aggregation routers elevates the access layer as an integral part of the intelligent network and changes the game.
The access and aggregation routers of the past were based on platforms designed to deliver effective access and aggregation services for 1G to 10G services. Most were based on merchant silicon, which hosted a vendor’s network operating system and networking features, including platforms such as Nokia’s 7250 IXR. In contrast, the higher-scale IP services edge and IP core have been based on proprietary silicon, which delivered high-scale switching capacity, rich telemetry, and programmability needed to meet automate and meet stringent performance, power, and security requirements. The use of merchant silicon was widely adopted by equipment vendors to deliver solutions that kept pace with market demands, and a few vendors also leveraged programmable silicon such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Part of the draw for merchant silicon was driven by operators who desired to minimize vendor dependance – i.e., the white box era.
• Intel’s new system-on-a-chip (SoC) features integrated accelerators, which help close the performance gap between virtual RAN (vRAN) and traditional RAN. Thus far, accelerators have been offered as separate hardware cards.
• Rakuten Symphony’s plans to offer a vDU based on the new SoC, following the availability of Qualcomm’s new accelerator and Juniper’s recent move to give away its RAN Intelligent Controller, show vRAN momentum building.
Recently, vRAN vendor Rakuten Symphony revealed plans to produce a virtual distributed baseband unit (vDU) based on new Intel SoC, due in 2023, whose accelerator is integrated with the CPU rather than being offered as a separate hardware card. This represents a departure from the status quo (accelerators as separate hardware cards), but the two vendors say it also addresses a key obstacle that has been holding vRAN back.
Automated network service provisioning (via SDN technologies) is an established industry norm; however, dealing with service quality assurance requires advanced capabilities such as real-time network visualization, multi-factor path computation, and the ability to dynamically handle high-scale network variations.
Service assurance benefits include optimization of network resources, increased revenue potential, and reduced operational costs, among others; achieving these objectives can yield significant operational efficiency and improved quality of experience for end users.
Operators continue to invest and scale their IP and transport networks to meet growing capacity and new use cases demands, and the need to expand automated network management beyond network element and service provisioning, as well as begin to address service assurance, has become a top priority. Experience has shown that today’s highly complex and dynamic networks rely on automation as the key to successfully delivering high-quality services. In the two most recent networking conferences (i.e., MWC 22 and MPLS SD & AI Net World), network automation demonstrations and proof of concept (PoC) presentations by vendors and network operators alike were front and center and show promise when addressing service quality assurance.
At the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Starlink – with ample financial support from the US and its allies – supplied terminals and active service in the country.
Starlink’s service has proven unparalleled resilience, giving a new set of arguments for further development of low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations.
Since the beginning of the all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine, Starlink has consistently proven its worth as a critical communications medium. The service has been proven resilient, both in its design and operations. The service requires no ground-based infrastructure aside from a user terminal, allowing users to set up internet access quickly. It circumvents terrestrial infrastructure, which has not only been damaged by the ongoing warfare, but has also crumbled under targeted Russian cyber and physical attacks and sabotage. This part of its performance was expected.
• NEC and Netcracker wrap their respective professional services and domain orchestration solution around Juniper’s IP networking and ADVA’s open line system for a multi-layer, multi-vendor, and automated 5G Xhaul.
• The cooperation has great potential to increase each of the vendors’ credibility in 5G transport, but must show tangible advantages in functionality and cost savings to uproot entrenched competitors.
The 5G transport market continues to heat up, as operators are gradually waking up to the fact that transport renovation and automation will be one of the key ingredients of their future end-to-end 5G architecture. In that context, accelerated activity by NEC and Netcracker in 5G Xhaul illustrates well the importance of transport for 5G, and the size of the market opportunity awaiting. NEC, Netcracker, Juniper, and ADVA contributed their leading capabilities to their joint solution introduced in September.
TIP MUST intends to accelerate SDN adoption in the WAN by defining requirements for WAN SDN based on real-life operator use cases.
The resulting architecture is open and will likely help fill the gap most vendors are unwilling or unable to address: the hierarchical controller space.
From the onset of attempts to implement SDN into telco WAN infrastructure, operators have faced two obstacles that severely limited its usefulness: lack of multi-vendor support and inability to control legacy environments. Telco equipment vendors have not been able to come up with a technical consensus that would solve these issues, for various reasons. Instead, most WAN SDN implementations have so far been restricted to one vendor’s equipment or have entailed costly integration of multiple vendors’ equipment under one domain controller. The results of these developments have so far been underwhelming; the market landscape remains fragmented, SDN adoption is slow, and the costs are high due to custom integration and operational support overhead. Continue reading “TIP Spells Out What WAN SDN Controllers MUST Do”→
The impact of 5G will start showing in optical transport revenues in earnest in 2021, and the ensuing capacity increases will translate into accelerated upgrade cycles in the metro packet-optical domain.
Vendors competing in coherent solutions will put more emphasis on overall fiber capacity and spectral efficiency and present their capabilities across several dimensions, reducing focus on maximum wavelength capacity as the industry currency.
5G Transport Needs Will Shape Packet-Optical Access and Metro
The impact of 5G on the CSP network technology ecosystem beyond the radio access will be substantial, and transport is the first domain where this has become evident. Beyond capacity requirements an order of magnitude higher than was the case with 4G, 5G also needs stringent timing and synchronization and defines very low-latency system-wide latency budgets, which translate into very strict requirements for each network element in the communications link. As opposed to 4G, where most deployed base stations were macro, 5G architecture is much more versatile and opens the way for significantly more disaggregation between different elements of radio access. This directly translates into a much greater role for fronthaul and midhaul that need to seamlessly connect these disaggregated parts of radio network access. Taken together, the new speed, precision, and latency requirements of 5G have already led most operators to renew and augment their mobile x-haul portfolios. Additionally, the continually increasing volume of new connections and the need for flexibility to support functions like network slicing have brought on a realistic and urgent need to deploy automation and orchestration solutions across the transport networks. Continue reading “2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in Optical Transport This Year”→