Ahead of Mobile World Congress (MWC) at the end of this month, Ericsson AB unveiled a broad range of product and service enhancements and updates Wednesday focused around the topic of efficiency (network, operations and applications efficiency).
More interesting than the specifics of the enhancements, though, are the trends behind Ericsson's R&D developments, especially related to carrier cloud and network functions virtualization (NFV) developments.
The portfolio "news" ranged from radio access capacity-enhancing features (including an updated version of its Antenna Integrated Radio product), LTE applications capabilities (especially around 4G voice/VoLTE), microwave backhaul, Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) enhancements, managed and professional services offerings, and a new content delivery network (CDN) solution. You can read about those announcements in these press releases:
What caught our attention during a London briefing for media and analysts, though, is the evolution of Ericsson's service provider software-defined networking (SDN) story, which the vendor first unveiled in October 2012. (See Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN and The Lowdown on Service Provider SDN.)
As part of its cloud services enablement story, Ericsson is developing its own Software Defined Networking (SDN) controller, based on the OpenFlow protocol, and plans to show off two SDN applications at MWC (a network function virtualization application and service chaining, by which separate functions are invoked in a sequence that creates a specific end user experience). The company says it will be the end of the year before it has any SDN capabilities commercially available, though.
These developments are linked with the company's new Cloud System launch, which, according to Magnus Furustam, vice president and head of product area core and IMS at the vendor's Networks division, aims to enable the distribution of cloud service capabilities throughout every element in a service provider's network. As part of the technology package underpinning this effort, Ericsson has developed what it calls a Cloud Execution Environment, based on OpenStack and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (Linux virtualization) software and the vendor's Cloud Manager OSS tools.
Underpinning Ericsson's SDN and cloud efforts are the SSR router, which the vendor sees as a physical platform that can house many of the core functions being developed for next-generation, distributed networks.
This is a move in line with the cloud/SDN pitches of many major vendors, notes Heavy Reading Chief Analyst Graham Finnie, as it sends a message to service providers that they will require "carrier-grade" network infrastructure (and not just off-the-shelf IT hardware platforms) even if SDN ends up ruling the world.
Furustam, though, says that operators are deploying its SSR routers in their networks today and that it's just future-proofing that IP platform so that it can fit into emerging service provider networking strategies.
Expect the debate about SDN, NFV and cloud developments to be at the fore in Barcelona: It's certainly going to be a major topic in Ericsson's showground hall.
â€” Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading