Tektronix Communications sees NFV and SDN as key to next generation networks: Page 3 of 4

May 18, 2015 // By Ravi Chittimoori, Tektronix Communications
NFV (Network Function Virtualisation) and SDN (Software Defined Networks) are gaining traction with mobile operators and are considered key to delivering next-generation networks on the road to 5G. It is expected that when 5G eventually rolls out it will fully implement NFV and SDN. Already with LTE, there are many benefits besides cost reduction for those mobile operators moving in this direction.
Based on this new dynamic, how will operators continue to collect and correlate network data; will this become the responsibility of IT?

By adopting solutions that operate in an “orchestrated NFV/ SDN” and “Big Data Analytics ecosystem” and provide real-time, truly end-to-end “horizontal” and “vertical” views of the network, operators will be able to access meaningful network data and subscriber information that will let them truly fulfil the role of an integrated communications service provider. Once operators have visibility of this data, they will also be able to share it with other internal stakeholders. Each separate business unit will be a position to access data from across the network that’s pertinent to their individual department, empowering them to make informed decisions on both a commercial and an operational level.

The limit of the business cases created by this intimate detail of customer knowledge is practically endless. The only restriction is the willingness of the operator to deploy the right solutions and processes that can access this data, then create an ecosystem that innovates delivery to end-user enterprises.

What is even more interesting is the fact this information can be accessed in real-time, empowering operators to make more strategic decisions. This real-time aspect is of huge importance to operators themselves, but also has tremendous potential for third-party organisations looking to leverage subscriber location and usage data.

Will a virtualised network infrastructure become the launchpad for new services like VoLTE and how will operators monitor the performance of these new services?

NFV is the key to unlocking a mobile network’s hidden potential. It’s a tool that will help operators escape being branded as simply data transporters or dumb pipes, and allow them instead to fulfil the role of an integrated communications service provider. This is critical at a time when LTE is becoming a mainstream technology and will soon surpass 3G as the standard service people use on their devices. Networks are becoming the platforms for new services, including VoLTE, which support high-definition voice and video calling features. The move to an NFV framework will give operators the agility and flexibility they have craved and enable them to behave like digital businesses, displacing the third-party OTT providers that have cannibalised their revenues for years.

How will operators manage to combine their traditional network assets (e.g. RAN equipment) with an NFV/virtualised framework?

As operators begin to integrate their traditional network assets with virtualised functions, it’s vital they partner with a trusted vendor to ensure a seamless process that will not affect network performance or service level agreements. To ensure this level of network consistency, operators need access to the subscriber and network data across their traditional networks as well as the new virtual networks in real-time and on a 24/7 basis.

The adoption of these NFV/SDN enabled networks is a journey. During this journey operators have to figure out cost effective ways to monitor their legacy networks, the exponentially increasing traffic on their relatively new networks and the future virtualized/NFV networks. Operators that adopt monitoring solutions that can span the entire breadth of these networks in a manner that makes it transparent to the networks operations personnel so that they can retain their existing business processes and only evolve them as necessary will be able to successfully make this journey.

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