By David Levi
Communication service providers (CSPs) are constantly looking for ways to improve service agility and operational efficiency to upgrade customer experience (and corresponding potential revenue) and lower costs.
One of the most promising areas of potential growth is presented by building a Virtual Central Office (VCO) with open source, non-proprietary components.
A recent white paper, published by the OPNFV Project together with the OpenDaylight Foundation, illustrates the immense potential of central office virtualisation. According to the report, in the US alone there are more than 10,000 central offices that could potentially benefit from optimisation. This can be done through virtualisation of network hardware components, SDN, NFV, and standardisation through open source-based, interoperable solutions.
The VCO offers simplification, convergence, and integration of the access network technologies within a common architecture that is enabled by leveraging a combination of ongoing trends. This includes SDN and NFV, service and network orchestration, open protocols, open data models and open source tools, open source software, and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. The result is the enablement of service delivery models that span different access types, increase the access bandwidth per subscriber, and decrease costs.
Source: OPNFV and OpenDaylight
However, when CSPs virtualise their central offices, they must overcome the challenge of maintaining carrier-grade services (reliable transmission, scalability, monitoring, power efficiency, and security) in the new virtual environment, without heavy expenditures on upgrading their networks and without being beholden to proprietary vendors that limit their flexibility.
By investing in hardware acceleration, ideally through scalable field-programmable gate array (FPGA) solutions, CSPs can maintain deterministic performance, gain agility both in scaling and upgrading their networks in the future, and achieve cost efficiency in their virtual infrastructure. At Ethernity Networks, we are already witnessing a move in this direction and the trend is expected to intensify in the coming years.