Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017. Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.
Contributed by Chris Busch, Chief Innovation Officer, Incognito Software Systems
Commercial and Residential Options for Virtualization: Differences, Similarities, Advantages, and Functionality
Virtualization as a subject surrounded the industry throughout 2016. This year, specifically in broadband service functions related to customer premises gateways, there have been advancements that will demonstrate themselves both economically and technically in the coming quarters.
This blog will discuss the requirements for both commercial and residential architectures of virtualization, the impetus on communication service providers to provide virtual network functions, and explore what the future may hold for this innovative approach to essential customer-facing services.
Virtualization: Commercial Instances
The disruption of gateway functions through virtualization first began within the commercial customer seeking to reduce the physical footprint of independent platforms at the premises. Increasing the velocity of new service introduction while improving overall customer care and experience was a significant mandate.
In a typical commercial architecture, the customer may have had a physical router to accept their provider's service as a managed demarcation gateway. This same customer may have IP telephony system, firewall, VPN, and related Intrusion Detection System (IDS) at their premises. Together, these add up to a significant number of physical boxes to manage and support.
This customer base has been ideally suited to move several network functions into a Network as a Service (NaaS) solution, ultimately destined as Network Function Virtualization (NFV) based within the operator network compute domain. In addition, certain functions operating in a co-resident, isolated manner can be left within the demarcation gateway.
This results in a hybrid network function virtualization architecture, offering cost reduction of physical platforms at the premises and rapid introduction of new network services in a nearly self-service manner for the end customer. Examples of these services include SD-WAN for business-critical service differentiated enterprise access, Firewall as a Service, Network as a Service virtual routing, and bandwidth on demand services.
In the hybrid model, certain services and applications are delivered from the operator facility while others are isolated within the customer demarcation gateway. This is woven together as a Service Function Chain (SFC) at the network layer through software control.
This approach to commercial customer architecture has dependencies on a cloud computing and network services layer. While this serves the business subscriber base, the new challenge becomes transferring the lessons learned from these subscribers into the residential customer base in a cost effective manner.
Virtualization: Residential Instances
The largest challenge, or greatest opportunity, coming in 2017 is the cost-efficient delivery of function virtualization at scale to the residential subscriber base.
Early efforts are underway to support residential gateway compute isolation combined with protocol and signaling interface support for network layer connectivity, per residential subscriber hybrid service function chain.
The next step for those seeking solutions in residential gateway virtualization will come in the form of cost reduced NFV-capable gateways and a simplified operator compute domain that can reduce capital and complexity costs for residential-based hybrid architectures.
A residential subscriber with virtualized functions will be seeking advanced Wi-Fi management (including real-time control of radio performance) an enriched end-user or persona-based experience, unified content, parental, bandwidth, and consumption controls.
Perhaps the early adopter market here will be the Small Office, Home Office (SOHO) power user, where we find the greatest need to balance control of network, bandwidth, and services among the end users of a residential premises. It is from this early adopter base where the greatest crossover of similar service experiences occur in relation to the commercial business subscriber.
For these users, the ability to schedule bandwidth, control content between devices, and even enhance visibility into automation and control IoT networking will be drivers toward future residential virtualized services in 2017.
As we prepare for 2017, we can expect the hybrid approach to virtualization to be a major discussion point throughout the communications industry.
About the Author
Chris Busch, Chief Innovation Officer
Chris Busch, a 15-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, is responsible for driving the development of innovative solutions that help service providers increase revenue and enhance the subscriber experience while also cultivating customer and partner relationships around the world.
Prior to his role as Chief Innovation Officer, Chris was Director of Product Architecture for the ARRIS assurance business unit, working with both internal and external stakeholders to research, analyze, and develop innovative solutions, product strategies, and new technologies.