& cplSiteName &

Embracing Technological Change

Jeff Finkelstein
3/10/2014
50%
50%

    If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old. – Peter F. Drucker

Leaving things behind is hard, especially when it comes to the technologies with which we are comfortable. Many of us have based our careers, either in part or completely, on maintaining legacy systems. When new capabilities are introduced, some spend an inordinate amount of effort trying to derail things, either intentionally or subconsciously. I personally have been there more times than I care to recall.

However, once I began to accept and embrace the change, I could see the potential for it. It is when you hang onto the past and try to slow down the future that you reach the point where, if you are not careful, you may become more a part of the problem than the solution. In the worse case, you can even marginalize yourself.

That is not to say that all change is for the best. But when due diligence shows it is necessary for business or technical reasons, you reach a point where a decision has to be made. You can no longer avoid the change around you and must accept changing yourself.

Eventually, change is inevitable. Except from vending machines…

But back to the discussions from my last blog… Let's start with the graphic showing the top-level functions of a CCAP. (See Learning From Mistakes.)

Now let's take that drawing and break it into network layers for L1 (PHY), L2 (MAC), and L3 (routing)…

I recognize that the delineation between the layers is not that clean, but give me some space to run with this for now. What I am working towards is where the most effective and least disruptive breaks are to show us where we may segment functionality. What I am hoping to show is where this logical segmentation may lead us as we consider distributed access architectures.

Moving layer by layer...
Looking at this from the bottom up, we see that the L1 functions are what we today call a "Remote PHY." This occurs when you pull the physical layer out of the Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) core and push it to a remote device, likely in the field collocated with either a fiber node or a cabinet. An interesting point about the L1 functions is that they are typically very hardware-centric due to the modulation and demodulation of signals from a medium. Keep this in mind as we move forward with the discussion.

When we look at L2, this is the constituent MAC functionality that we typically think of as part of the CCAP or CMTS core. Multicast, service flows, quality-of-service, and channel bonding are all functions typically handled by MAC processing. As compared with the L1 functions that are very hardware-centric, many of these functions are software-based and may be possibly run on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. Today they are integrated into CCAP, as that is how we built the CMTS from the start.

This monolithic architecture has served us so well for the past 15 years that we are uncomfortable about changing it. If you place them into a separate device, this is what has been termed an "L2 CCAP" or "NR CCAP" (NR stands for non-routing).

Looking at L3, we see more traditional routing functionality. Thinking back to the start of the CMTS era, you may remember that the original CMTS was what we call a Layer 2 device, meaning it did not perform routing. Routing functions were added as we scaled the device and started running into issues with MAC table sizes on the switches and routers connected to the CMTS.

While it has served us well for many years, we are no longer bound by 32,000 or 64,000 MAC address limitations in a switch. These devices are now capable of 1 million or more MAC addresses. There are many good reasons to include routing in the CMTS core, but MAC addresses do not make it a requirement.

Let me get back to the direction of these blogs. Where do SDN and NFV play out in this new CCAP world order? Do they have a place? How can we leverage them to simplify design, enable greater scale in the head-end, and allow us to roll out new services at a greater velocity than we have in the past?

All questions I hope to begin addressing in my next blog. Stay tuned. Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel…

— Jeff Finkelstein, Executive Director of Strategic Architecture, Cox Communications

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
3/12/2014 | 6:57:39 AM
Embracing technological change
f you want something new, you have to stop doing something old. – Peter F. Drucker
    Nice quote. Or, as Heraclitus put it, "There is nothing permanent, except change." 
    Embracing change, indeed, can be difficult sometimes and not only technological change but business change, or any other change affecting your life, or business in one way or another. 
    However, change may bring new opportunities. In the case of technology change has to be embraced quickly, as quickly as it happens. Otherwise, the company will lack the necessary tools to remain current in its line of business.
      -Susan
More Blogs from Column
Mobile edge computing (MEC) and a cloud-native core are necessary ingredients for the future 5G NFV network, argues Ian Maclean of Metaswitch.
Once pay-TV providers embrace the idea, they must take a comprehensive, company-wide approach to carry out such fundamental changes.
5G will require a fresh look at RF characteristics as operators deploy next-gen tech on very high-band frequencies.
MVPDs have an opportunity to make digital investments without upending their current business.
VoLTE, in the end, becomes a cloud and NFV story, Metaswitch's Ian Maclean argues.
Featured Video
From The Founder
The 'gleaming city on a hill,' Steve Saunders calls it. But who is going to take us from today's NFV componentry to the grand future of a self-driving network? Here's a look at the vendors hoping to make it happen.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Could 5G Have Found Its Glass Ceiling?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2017
1 Million Pirate Set-Top Boxes Sold in the UK
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 9/20/2017
Why Amazon May Be Cable's Biggest Threat
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/22/2017
Comcast Shuts Down OTT Again
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/19/2017
T-Mobile, Sprint in Merger Talks, Again – Report
Iain Morris, News Editor, 9/20/2017
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed