With the success of virtualization and cloud computing in the enterprise realm, telecom network operators and service providers are now looking to the cloud to reap the same benefits – economics of scale, cost effectiveness and scalability. However, the telecom cloud is not the same as the IT cloud; the telecom industry’s demanding requirements for high levels of availability and reliability must be met. In addition, telecom operators want to leverage the significant investment they’ve already made in their existing infrastructure.
Typically, telecom software runs on dedicated computer appliances or virtual machines. Launching new network services becomes increasingly difficult as service providers must manage a variety of proprietary pieces of hardware – in addition to the complexity of integrating and deploying these physical devices in a network. To address these challenges, service providers are driving a transformation concept called Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), which moves network functionality to software and leverages commercially available commodity server hardware from the IT sector and teams it with virtualization technology.
Easily expand network reach
Software-defined networking (SDN) provides a powerful complement to NFV’s ability to maximize utilization of hardware resources. SDN abstraction allows a service provider to expand the bandwidth capacity and geographic reach of the network, flexibly and easily, across a multi-vendor network of devices, from a centralized management center. Subscribers will benefit by gaining a better experience as a result of rapid network adaptation to demand and the introduction of new services which previously might not have provided sufficient return to justify the investment.
Using open, standard technologies allows telecom operators to virtualize their proprietary solutions on a standard hardware stack. This reduces their time to market because they no longer have to procure individual pieces of hardware for each function in the network. They can just build a rack full of cloud devices and then load the software onto the virtual environment, substantially reducing the amount of cabling required and leveraging the lower-cost and developer-friendly efficiencies inherent in off-the-shelf equipment.
Defining the cloud framework
Dell, of course, is well-positioned in this space, offering some of the best Tier 1 server platforms and cloud computing solutions in the industry. At Dell, we believe the best solution for the telecom infrastructure is a carrier-grade virtualization and cloud infrastructure. To that end, Dell is working closely with many of the major telecom carriers as part of an NFV committee formed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ESTI). The group is tasked with defining the requirements and architecture for the virtualization of various network functions.
Dell is also one of the founding members of the Cloud NFV initiative, a group of vendors dedicated to creating a technical framework and demonstration platform for NFV-based or cloud computing and SDN technologies in a multi-vendor environment. For Dell it’s about driving the advancement of the NFV environment. We’re excited about the potential for new, cutting-edge innovations within this industry and look forward to working with OEMs and customers to develop, implement and successfully bring these solutions to market.