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What’s New With Cisco’s Evolved Services Platform (ESP)? A Peek Inside the Service Provider’s Software-Defined WAN

In February we announced the Evolved Services Platform (ESP) as part of our Service Provider Cisco Open Networking Environment.  The ESP consists of a service broker (a storefront for SP applications), a catalog of virtual functions (components of the offerings) and an orchestration engine, which is essentially the factory the produces the applications themselves.

One of the key functions of ESP’s orchestration engine is to automate, in real time,  the operations of today’s complex multivendor physical and virtual infrastructure. This week we announced the WAN Automation Engine (WAE), which helps deliver this function for the wide area networks of our carrier operators, and enables them to deliver positive business outcomes for their end customers. Using WAE’s sophisticated predictive analytics and path computation, operators can now rapidly create new revenue generating services such as bandwidth calendaring for their end customers; this is not possible in many of their present modes of operation.

Those responsible for the “bottom line” in service providers will want to know the business benefits of this approach. Modelling the impact of bandwidth scheduling applications (either calendaring or on-demand) with some of our customers, we have noted year 1 ROI yields of over 90%, with (assuming even modest take-up rates) compound annual growth rates of approximately 40%: a very impressive addition to the monetization side of the operator’s profit equation. But perhaps even more striking is how WAE drives down TCO in provider networks. Using proven Cisco MATE technology, already deployed in more than 60 global customers, savings of up to 45% have been recorded in operational and capital costs.

And for those who want to know about the nuts and bolts, how do we do it?  The WAN Automation Engine, like Cisco MATE, collects equipment, topology, and traffic information in real-time from networks, and then models it with different time stamps so that these networks can be better managed and orchestrated by engineering and operations groups. The engine then builds a real time model of the network and exposes it to web applications via REST APIs. Deployment is via standard plug-ins and drivers such as Path Computation Element Protocol (PCEP).

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This enables operators to attract web based application developers to leverage the underlying multi-vendor infrastructure assets, without requiring a deep understanding of protocols or network topology or incurring dependencies on a specific networking vendor.

Tools and applications such as Cisco MATE and the WAN Automation Engine, that dramatically reduce costs and enables revenue generating services, are the future of service provider networking. Watch for more announcements in the ESP as we discuss how we help service providers create and market the new cloud offerings that have become a business necessity. And to find out more about the WAN Automation Engine, check out www.cisco.com/go/wae.

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