Tuesday, March 3, 2015

#MWC15 @Gigamon Discusses the Triple Challenge

The triple challenge is about how operators are deploying three new technologies simultaneously, namely, 100 Gbps transport pipes, VoLTE, and carrier network virtualization.  Andy Huckridge discusses traffic visibility concerns in each of these areas.


Blueprint: Why the IoT is Forcing Mobile Operators to Redesign

by Frank Yue, Senior Technical Marketing Manager, F5 Networks

The Internet of Things (IoT) is composed of automated machine-to-machine (M2M) devices and is poised to be a huge boon for consumers everywhere. People and businesses will be able to access data from wearable exercise monitors, home automation and security—and pretty much any device imaginable. Manufacturers are connecting water meters, cars, and even crockpots to the Internet. Some estimates put the number of IoT devices at 16 billion in 2014, growing to over 40 billion by 2020. By comparison, there are predicted to be 8.3 billion non-M2M devices by 2019.

This surge in the number of automated devices connected to the Internet will significantly impact service provider networks. M2M and automated products behave very differently when compared to biologically driven devices. Mobile service providers must take a close look at how these devices function and how they interact with the Internet through their data connections as they continue to build and update their advanced LTE mobile networks.

Until now, consumer driven connections through mobile phones, tablets, and PCs have been the focus for the design and build of LTE networks. These devices and connections consume large amounts of data as everyone's hunger for more mobile content is sated. Although generally random, the connections are statistically predictable. Service providers are using this predictability to ensure that the networks they build can support the planned demand.

Not all connections are created equal

M2M devices have an extremely different connection profile from non-M2M devices. They are designed to send periodic updates with their current state and other data. Although the amount of content is small, there is a specific cadence to the process of delivering these updates. Currently, most service providers’ networks are not designed to handle this regular connectivity.

In the 3GPP LTE network architecture, there are approximately 26(!) steps for any user equipment (UE)—including IoT devices—to attach (register) to a mobile network. When a device is idle for a period of time, it goes to sleep and detaches itself from the network. The idle timer is usually fairly short since the device is tying up precious radio bandwidth as long as it is attached (registered). In order to re-attach, the device must go through those 26 steps again.

A typical M2M device will send updates on a periodic interval such as every minute, five minutes, or 15 minutes. In addition, these devices will often send more comprehensive updates on a larger interval, often hourly or daily. For instance, a wearable training device may send updates to the Internet every 5 minutes while a residential water meter will only send a daily message to update the home’s water consumption.

All of these updates means there will inevitably be surges of registrations and floods of small chunks of data on the mobile networks. The minute-by-minute updates may lead to only small surges, but the more comprehensive updates (such as hourly or daily) may cause far larger surges. So, the raw volume of data is not the main issue; it is the number of connections and reconnections and the number of devices that is the primary concern.

The mobile service provider is not ready to handle these “harmonic surges” in registrations and updates. When a device wants to send more data, it will need to register to the network again. These surges in registration messages can easily overload the Diameter signaling infrastructure.

Cloud technologies are not just for the cloud

To properly and efficiently handle the connection and data patterns that IoT creates, mobile service providers need networks that are agile and elastic in order to create on-demand infrastructures that can support these surges. At the same time, they want to avoid the expense of purchasing and maintaining equipment that is unused except during these surge periods.
This is where service providers can leverage virtualized and cloud technologies. Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is the architecture that can transform today’s physical networks into flexible and dynamic infrastructures that run services in cloud environments. Cloud technologies are designed to deliver the on-demand resourcing, or elasticity, that is necessary to support traffic surges. This maps directly to the planned capabilities of NFV.
An unspoken goal of NFV is to transform the mobile service provider’s core network into a cloud-like environment with all the business and operational benefits of an agile and virtualized infrastructure. To support the demands created by the growth of IoT, the registration and policy infrastructure of the evolved packet core (EPC) must be virtualized.
Note, however, that virtualization, in and of itself, does not deliver the required elasticity. On-demand resourcing is only possible with the abstraction, programmability, and orchestration of these virtualized services. The detection of surge periods must be coordinated with the spinning up of the resources required to meet the expected demand. After the flood of connections pass, these resources must also be freed up to be available for other purposes.

“Harmony,” not “harmonics”

The potential for the IoT to overwhelm the mobile network infrastructure is very real. And with the number and types of connected devices growing exponentially, the hype for IoT continues unabated.  

When it comes to building their infrastructures, mobile service providers need to work closely with the key IoT standards bodies and manufacturers to find common ground. If they do not address this growing type of connectivity, service providers will experience a devastatingly similar situation to the harmonic convergence of wind speed that caused the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to collapse in 1940

About the Author

Frank Yue is the Senior Technical Marketing Manager for the Service Provider business at F5 Networks. In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing F5’s technologies and products before they come to market.

Prior to joining F5, Yue was sales engineer at BreakingPoint Systems, selling application aware traffic and security simulation solutions for the service provider market. Yue also worked at Cloudshield Technologies supporting customized DPI solutions, and at Foundry Networks as a global overlay for the ServerIron application delivery controller and traffic management product line. Yue has a degree in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

About F5 

 F5 (NASDAQ: FFIV) provides solutions for an application world. F5 helps organizations seamlessly scale cloud, data center, telecommunications, and software defined networking (SDN) deployments to successfully deliver applications and services to anyone, anywhere, at any time. F5 solutions broaden the reach of IT through an open, extensible framework and a rich partner ecosystem of leading technology and orchestration vendors. This approach lets customers pursue the infrastructure model that best fits their needs over time. The world’s largest businesses, service providers, government entities, and consumer brands rely on F5 to stay ahead of cloud, security, and mobility trends. For more information, go to f5.com.

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Equinix Builds Programmable Network with Cisco Tail-f

Equinix is using Cisco's Tail-f Network Control System (NCS) as a foundational element for automating and programming the Equinix Cloud Exchange.

Specifically, the Equinix Programmable Network is using the NETCONF and YANG capabilities in the Tail-f NCS offering to provider multi-vendor service orchestration. This enables Equinix to provide multi-cloud services in an agile and vendor-agnostic way, simplifying and accelerating cloud access for the enterprise.

The Equinix Cloud Exchange provides direct access to leading cloud providers such as AWS, Cisco, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, SoftLayer, and others.  Equinix said the use of NETCONF and YANG provides the automation and programmability needed for rapidly accessing and managing these cloud services.

"Our goal with the Equinix Cloud Exchange is to provide multi-cloud interconnectivity solutions that satisfy high-performance application needs in a secure environment. Tail-f NCS is a key part of our foundational programmable network and allows us to provide multi-cloud services in an agile and vendor-neutral way. Tail-f's support for YANG also allows us to quickly define new services without the burden of vendor-specific configuration protocols," stated Ihab Tarazi, chief technology officer, Equinix.


@Equinix's Ihab Tarazi on the Evolution of #SDN

Ihab Tarazi, CTO of Equinix, discusses the evolution of software-defined networking, in the emerging SDN2, OpenStack, Open Daylight, NetConf and YANG.

Nokia Leverages Real-time Network Data to Tailor Content Delivery

At this week’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia Networks is showcasing its Liquid Applications’ throughput guidance for heling content providers to optimize their transmission policy to reflect dynamically changing network resources in real-time. The goal is to improve resource utilization in mobile operator's network. YouTube has successfully conducted lab tests of the throughput guidance technology, with initial results showing improvement in network utilization and application quality of experience.

Congestion detection from Nokia’s Liquid Applications notifies upstream content providers and mobile device clients as to the most efficient time to fetch subscriber content based on real-time cell load information.

Nokia said Akamai is currently testing congestion detection as part of their Predictive Video over Cellular (PVoC) optimization solution for mobile networks. The company calculates that its smart location experience optimization service provides up to 50% increase in video streaming speeds for consumers based on insights on how applications utilize network resources.

“We are now able to provide completely new insights into the dynamically changing performance of mobile networks, to improve content delivery efficiency and increase network performance. It is important for operators and content providers to keep up with the increasing demand for localized, data-intensive content that users want to receive with the fastest possible speed to their devices,” stated Dirk Lindemeier, Head of Liquid Applications at Nokia Networks.


Alcatel-Lucent Demos NFV-based Virtualized Radio Access Network

At this week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Alcatel-Lucent is showcasing NFV-based virtualized radio access network technology in collaboration with Intel, China Mobile, and Telef√≥nica.

Alcatel-Lucent said its vRAN solutions will be available for customer trials during 2015 and for commercial operation in 2016.  Over the past year, the company has announced the virtualization of a wide range of network functions, including evolved packet core, IMS, Content Delivery Network and service routing technologies. Its CloudBand NFV platform has been featured in over 30 customer projects and has an NFV ecosystem of over 60 members.

Alcatel-Lucent’s vRAN comprises a virtualized baseband unit (vBBU) that uses general purpose servers with Intel Xeon processors.

Alcatel-Lucent and China Mobile, which have a long-standing co-development agreement in place, are showing progress in the Cloud-RAN program.

Telefónica is also showing the Alcatel-Lucent vRAN solution on its booth as part as an ambitious example of an end-to-end fully virtualized network running at #MWC15.

“A virtualized RAN will allow operators to take a big step toward 5G and benefit from the advanced features and efficiencies enabled by LTE-A. By teaming on this technology, Alcatel-Lucent, Intel and China Mobile have been able to very quickly develop a comprehensive solution that will allow operators to evolve their networks more efficiently and effectively,” stated Glenn Booth Senior Vice President and General Manger of Alcatel-Lucent’s LTE Business Unit.


DT Launches Cloud-VPNs with Cisco's Tail-f

Deutsche Telekom (DT) launched a Cloud VPN (Virtual Private Network) Service for small and medium businesses that features a self-service online portal to give customers a simple way to select, subscribe to and activate highly secure and scalable Internet services. The service portfolio includes branch, site-to-site and remote access encrypted VPNs, as well as firewall and web security, all offered as a cloud-managed IT solution on a monthly subscription basis.

Customers have access to a management dashboard on which they can track the status and performance of services and upgrade their service package, such as increasing the number of users or the bandwidth, with a click of a mouse. Provisioning is automatic and done in real time from DT’s data centre.

DT is using the Tail-F NCS platform based on Netconf/YANG. The service is built on Cisco® virtual security appliances, combined with DT’s OpenStack solutions.


Alcatel-Lucent Pursues Wireless Unified Network Strategy

Alcatel-Lucent introduced a “Wireless Unified Networks” strategy which blends the upload and download capabilities of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies to enable higher capacity and give subscribers a more consistent and higher-quality mobile voice, data and video experience in high-traffic or low-signal locations.

As part of the new strategy, Alcatel-Lucent is introducing two separate capabilities: “Wi-Fi boost”, which uses cellular to enhance the performance of Wi-Fi networks; and “Cellular boost”, which uses unlicensed spectrum to enhance the performance of cellular. Combined, they maximize performance for subscribers across both access technologies.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Wi-Fi boost technology combines the downlink of Wi-Fi with the uplink of cellular. This capability requires an OS software update to existing user devices that are capable of both cellular and Wi-Fi transmission. It also requires software updates in the network to blend the Wi-Fi and cellular access networks into a unified network.  The company calculates that Wi-Fi boost can increase download speeds up to 70% and increase upload speeds by an order of magnitude or more (compared to standalone Wi-Fi at the cell edge), while also doubling the Wi-Fi range.  Commercial availability is expected in the second half of 2015.

Alcatel-Lucent will also add a cellular downlink to the Wi-Fi downlink of the Wi-Fi boost. This pre-standard LTE Wi-Fi Aggregation (LWA) implementation can more than double download speeds relative to standalone network capabilities.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Cellular boost leverages the unlicensed spectrum bands to enhance the capacity and performance of a cellular network. Plans include the introduction of new LTE-U and Licensed Assist Access (LAA) capable small cells.

“As an industry we have historically treated cellular and Wi-Fi as unique technologies. For example, the industry debates the merits of Voice/Data over Wi-Fi versus Voice/Data over LTE. From a consumer perspective, it should simply be Voice/Data over Wireless. With Wireless Unified Networks, we are excited to be taking the important steps to transform and greatly enhance the user’s wireless experience in the home, at work, and in dense venue networks by combining existing Wi-Fi and cellular networks into one high performance network,” stated Mike Schabel, Vice President of Small Cells in Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent is also presenting its new multi-standard enterprise and residential small cells and compact metro cells at #MWC15. Other innovations on display include:
  • CloudBand management system, providing a fully integrated solution that orchestrates infrastructure, applications, and network in a single virtualized NFV platform.
  • Virtualized, massively scalable Mobile and Wi-Fi gateways, including enhanced evolved Packet Data Gateway (ePDG+) support and seamless concurrent use of cellular (licensed) and Wi-Fi (unlicensed) access connections to boost performance.
  • Virtualized IMS solutions that deliver a scalable and seamless communications experience across different access networks and devices.
  • Motive customer experience management and big network analytics that deliver a more consistent, high quality experience and provide insight into network, device and application performance across the network.


Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel Launch Start-up Accelerator

Cisco, Deutsche Telekom and Intel are launching Challenge Up!, a joint Internet of Things (IoT) accelerator for start-ups from the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. The program aims at helping innovative IoT startups go-to-market faster through joint projects, mentoring, high-value networking and corporate assets. Selected companies may also recieve strategic investment and support commercializing their product or service for global markets.

“We are looking forward to the creative ideas for new products and services from across the region to improve how we live and work together. By giving startups access to the complimentary resources of our three global companies we can help them accelerate their ideas into commercial success,” said Christian Morales, Corporate Vice President and General Manager Europe, Middle East and Africa at Intel.

“With an expected 50 billion things connected to the Internet by 2020, the Internet of Everything opens up great opportunities. To help better address these opportunities, Challenge Up! brings together the best of the technology world in an ecosystem of open innovation,” said Mike Flannagan, Vice President of Data & Analytics at Cisco.


Advantech - #NFV Reaches the Tipping Point

NFV is a big theme at Mobile World Congress 2015.  Paul Stevens previews the latest from Advantech.

#MWC15 - @Gigamon on De-risking VoLTE Deployments

Lots of interest for VoLTE and Video-over-LTE at this year's Mobile World Congress. Andy Huckridge previews Gigamon's approach to de-risking deployments.

@SAP Teams with T-Systems on Cloud-Based IoT Service

SAP and T-Systems introduced a connected logistics platform for processing large volumes of data from Internet of Things (#IoT) deployments.

The smartPORT logistics networking solution combines SAP Connected Logistics software and the Connected Car solution from T-Systems.

The Hamburg Port Authority is using the solution to provide traffic information and services relating to the port using mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. The objective was to optimize traffic and logistics processes in order to handle large volumes of goods in the port.

SAP said its smartPORT logistics offering could be used at other logistics hubs such as airports, parcel distribution centers and production sites. Both companies are committed to work to extend the ongoing cooperation for cloud services in the domain of telematics services and real-time information for logistics solutions.

“Today, the logistics industry is frequently faced with the challenge of having to optimize flows of goods in a limited area,” said Horst Leonberger, head of the Connected Car business unit of Deutsche Telekom. “With smartPORT logistics, we enable our customers to manage their flows of goods in real time and therefore make optimum use of the limited space.”