& cplSiteName &

Going All IP

John Holobinko
3/24/2014
100%
0%

As networks evolve towards all IP, the ability to commoditize most network functions becomes economically appealing. To understand why the SDN may provide the greatest benefits at the metro network level requires an examination of the network bandwidth and economic challenges in the network core, metro, and access.

"Over-the-top" (OTT) video viewership is rapidly growing and putting great demands on existing network capacity. According to The Ethernet Alliance , network bandwidth is growing at a 59% rate annually. If the future IP network is to deliver virtually all video services, it must be capable of personalizing the video content.

Cable operators have two choices: install customer devices that mimic the functions of the Internet by performing such functions as caching and personalization in the home, or provide these as network functions. Network devices on customer premises will always be challenged by the inability to capitalize on ongoing economic improvements and difficulties in supporting evolving consumer devices, plus cost and deployment times. Velocity -- defined as how fast a provider can react to changing customer behaviors and economics -- will almost always be greater when more functionality is in the network rather than the customer premises.

A major goal of SDN is to both simplify and consolidate network functions, replacing specialized hardware with commodity switches, servers, etc. It enables vertical integration with application control over the network through SDN APIs. Utilizing SDN has the potential to improve service provider velocity and deliver better network economics. But where to implement SDN: the core; the metro edge; the access network?

Today's OTT viewing represents just a very small fraction of total overall consumer video viewing. If all broadcast and unicast video services must traverse the core, then it becomes a major bottleneck, and core capacity would need to expand by two orders or more. Core equipment is expensive, is highly risky to update, and has limited vendors whose equipment primarily uses specialized hardware rather than merchant chips. Thus, it doesn't make economic sense to use the core to deliver the personalized (unicast) services capability required in an all IP network, and therefore it is not the first candidate for SDN.

Access networks must deliver all services to/from residential and business customers. As video traffic explodes, access networks will need to accommodate all of this growth. Twisted pair, coaxial, and multiple fiber technologies are found in the access network, each with its own phy layer and connectivity requirements. Within fiber, there are multiple options such as EPON, GPON, switched Ethernet, and RFoG, for delivering residential and/or business services. It doesn't make sense to create SDN functions that are specialized for each access technology.

Between the core and access networks sits the metro network. 10G Ethernet transport and10G Ethernet switching are becoming cheaper by the minute. A wise sage said, "Never bet against Ethernet". Ethernet switches are simple and easy to make reliable even in outside plant installation, enabling low-cost extension of the metro network. Extending the metro using low-cost Ethernet transport and switching allows the access network to be much dumber and shorter, potentially driving down the cost of adding access capacity.

In this model, the metro becomes the place where the backbone terminates, provides local processing, and then, using switched Ethernet, connects over distances of tens of kilometers to the last few hundred meters of each specialized access network. It becomes logical to put the functions for IP services personalization at the metro network edge. Therefore, the metro network becomes the logical location for SDN functions.

Most network services can be software-defined utilizing commodity servers and switches. By using SDN in the extended metro, existing access networks can potentially become highly agnostic, with service functions instantiated to subscribers via SDN. Everything from DVR-like functionality to MEF-based services can be provided from the metro network.

There will likely be some service functions that require specialized hardware for many years. Examples include deep-packet classification and traffic-shaping functions (such as those that make up part of the cable network's DOCSIS specification), certain forms of encryption, etc. These specialized functions belong at the metro network edge as well.

As services delivery moves to all-IP, all services, whether residential or business, become IP streams, with their primary differences related to bandwidths, tolerable packet losses and latencies. Transport of business services and residential services over a single metro network becomes viable, despite very different QoS requirements. Network expansion costs can be minimized and service velocity maximized.

— John Holobinko, Independent Consultant

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
craigleddy
50%
50%
craigleddy,
User Rank: Blogger
3/25/2014 | 8:21:59 AM
Re: Hitting the nail on the head
Hey John:

Great column. One of the first questions with SDN is defining what the heck it really means. In terms of cable infrastructure, which equipment or functions could be replaced or enhanced by SDN?

The large MSOs are moving toward all-IP delivery and cloud TV. Does SDN require them to change their current game plans or will it become a natural part of their IP migration?      

Hope to see you at LR Cable Next-Gen.

Craig Leddy

 

 
t.bogataj
50%
50%
t.bogataj,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/24/2014 | 1:04:50 PM
Hitting the nail on the head
Congratulations, John, excellent points. (Not really related to "going all IP" though; more relevant for service delivery, related business models & telco benefits.)

Mostly forgotten about, the metro/aggregation segment is actually an area where the telcos will truly be able to see the benefits of SDN in their broadband (i.e. service-delivery) networks.

I agree that this network segment will require specialized hardware rather than COTS servers and switches; but not because of specific service functions (of which you name a few), but for reliability, avaiability and (most of all!) migration scenarios... which represent another neglected aspect of the SDN hype.

It would be interesting to see other opinions. If none appear, we are both right :)

T.
More Blogs from Column
How cable operators and other pay-TV providers can differentiate themselves by helping customers find needles in haystacks. More is not always better.
A new way of thinking as well as new technologies and procedures are needed for those devising network security strategies, argues Fortinet's Matthew Pley.
High-frequency is on the 5G agenda after the FCC mmWave decision.
With the Summer Olympics now halfway over in Brazil, CSPs and other tech providers are competing fiercely for their own gold, silver and bronze medals.
LTE is evolving to support the Internet of Things as we head towards a massively connected 5G world.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
Alan Bateman, Director, Agile Transformation
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
FirstNet: A Billion-Dollar Boondoggle?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 8/26/2016
Google Fiber Downsizing Not Confirmed
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/25/2016
'Most Wanted' Kobi Comes Home
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 8/23/2016
Rocket Fiber Lights Up Detroit With Gigabit
Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, 8/22/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.