Light Reading
Where will the segmentation of functions lead cable operators as they start to ponder distributed access architectures?

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
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
SDN can play a significant role in helping operators offload data traffic via WiFi.
CSPs armed with real-time operational intelligence are uniquely positioned to realize the true monetary value of the new data economy.
Share your views on the next five years and find out what your peers think too.
The complexity of cloud service sourcing will boost demand for infrastructure-as-a-service.
Automation saves you from repeating the same things over and over again.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive