Light Reading

Embracing Technological Change

Jeff Finkelstein

    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
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.
More Blogs from Column
Adding virtualized local content delivery capabilities to broadband networks would bring content closer to consumers and boost OTT quality.
As OTT video traffic soars, CSPs can use new probing tools to measure and improve their data customers' quality of experience more effectively.
The edge router's days are numbered, argues Scott Sumner.
Don't panic – the platform isn't burning but is evolving quickly through open source, writes OPNFV director Heather Kirksey.
Cisco has once again set the bar and challenged the New IP networking sector by opening its doors and welcoming independent testing, something more vendors should be doing.
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Meet the Architect Behind LinkedIn

12|1|15   |   10:46   |   (1) comment

Steve Saunders speaks with Saikrishna Kotha, who leads LinkedIn's data center infrastructure architecture strategy. With over 400 million users, it's Kotha's job to deliver agility and speed, but also act as a business strategist to develop new ways that LinkedIn can monetize its user base. According to Kotha, LinkedIn runs on a mix of white box and vendor ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Service Gateway Virtual Edition

12|1|15   |   8.29   |   (0) comments

Allot's Jay Klein talks to Steve Saunders about its new Service Gateway Virtual Edition.
Wagner’s Ring
The Business Case for Open Source

11|30|15   |     |   (2) comments

Open source helps companies enhance infrastructure, undermine competitors' advantage and teach collaboration. But there are problems.
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Hot Topics
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
Cable Gives Thanks for Business Services
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 11/27/2015
Facebook in Africa: Beauty or Beast?
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/27/2015
Hong Kong Moments
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 11/26/2015
How Amazon TV Could Own Christmas
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 11/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Steve Saunders speaks with Saikrishna Kotha, who leads LinkedIn's data center infrastructure architecture strategy. With over 400 million users, it's Kotha's job to deliver agility and speed, but also act as a business strategist to develop new ways that LinkedIn can monetize its user base. According to Kotha, LinkedIn runs on a mix of white box and vendor hardware but has the DNA of a web-scale company.
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Cats with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.