Virtualization doesn’t just benefit engineering; operators win too!
The transition to a virtualized architecture brings with it many benefits, not just for those tasked with manufacturing home gateways but also tangible revenue generating opportunities for operators that embrace the technology.
Virtualization enables, and indeed encourages, software to be modularized. This significantly reduces engineering development costs while minimizing quality assurance and testing, both of which deliver a time-to-market advantage. More advantageous, the massive software integration challenge presented by assimilating smart home services into the home gateway is largely avoided: software that would ordinarily be deployed on the IoT hub can instead be executed on the home gateway in its own container, secure and isolated from all other elements in the system, and with access to the radio communication technology, just as if running on dedicated hardware. And, of course, those essential core functions of the gateway remain in their own protected domain, isolated from all other software running on the system, so in the unfortunate instance where a service is compromised through hacking, there’s no mechanism available to pivot across into other domains to disrupt operation of the gateway or other services running on it.
From the operator perspective, a virtualized gateway affords a wider choice of IoT services. No longer do they need to select preferred IoT vendor solutions ahead of time and then embark on a lengthy integration effort with their gateway partners; instead they may choose third-party service providers throughout the lifetime of their consumer premises equipment, offering those providers option to integrate their software container into the existing home gateway rather than purchasing and deploying additional IoT hubs.
This further benefits the consumer, who often does not understand the technology and prefers not to have yet more equipment hanging off the back of their router, consuming power and requiring maintenance. True, the gateway must have all popular radio communications networking technology pre-integrated, adding to the bill of materials. However, the benefits of an operator being able to effectively manage those networks, multiplexing radio frequencies to improve spectrum utilization and deliver highly reliable smart home services, quickly outweighs the cost of integration.