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Cisco Quantum Virtualized Packet Core: Automated and Orchestrated

By Jim O’Leary, Senior Mobile Solutions Marketing ManagerJim O'Leary

So last week I attended the mobile industry’s World Cup or Super Bowl, the 2014 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. The GSMA has just reported that more than 85,000 visitors from 201 countries attended the 2014 MWC attended the 4 day event, setting another new record. Every mobile operator, systems integrator, software and hardware vendor that touched the mobile industry was there. People were everywhere and all I can say was wow….

MWC Hot Topics that companies presented were on monetization, virtualization, and supersizing network components. With all of the hundreds of customers that I had the chance to speak with, virtualization and orchestration were really key areas for them. They came into our booth to speak with us, often confused as to them it seemed every vendor in attendance spoke about virtualization or orchestration, which often led operators to think that any vendor can do it. As many operators that have been evaluating this space for a while have found is that animated slides are easy to do but orchestrating and virtualizing a network is not. If you take a product that was just and “okay product”, then virtualize it, then you have a “virtualized okay product” and sometimes still tied to proprietary hardware.

According to Akshay Sharma, research director at Gartner, the Network Function Virtualization (NFV) market is Read More »

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Cisco and the Evolution of the Service Provider Network

On February 18, Cisco announced the evolution of service provider (SP) networks. It is probably a good idea to step back, just a little, and explain how Cisco sees the challenges ahead and how we intend to continue to provide our mobile service provider customers with the strongest portfolio of solutions in the industry. That’s the reason I am writing this blog post. In it, I hope to share with you some of our learnings from the past year and also, explain a little bit about the rationale for our announcement.

We are virtualizing our entire SP portfolio. The year 2013 is one where the concept of “Network Function Virtualization” (NfV) caught the industry by storm. In NfV, virtualized network functions are software appliances executing on virtual machines delivered in a telco cloud environment. In a nutshell, NfV is attractive to our customers because it allows them to clearly delineate the respective values of software, hardware and professional services for total solution integration. Practices based on data center techniques promise to reduce the cost of operating the network and simplify work processes through the agility we are seeing today in the cloud environment. And none of this evolution will compromise the ability of service providers to deploy multi-vendor solutions though it is fair to state, procurement practices will need to re-align to this brave new world. For example, rather than procure integrated network functions to be assembled into a network, service providers may have to separate out  layers Read More »

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Cisco Evolved Services Platform: OPEN for business

In the announcement of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform last week, we not only highlighted our initial service offers in mobility and video and the business benefits it enables, but also that it was open, extensible and elastic.  Openness is critical for providers by nature of the fact that their networks – often global in scope and mind-boggling in scale – require all the different technologies and often from different vendors installed to create the network experience desired actually can work together.  If not, it limits the offers they can take to market or requires operational contortions to make work, either of which would affect the provider’s ability to do business.

That’s why our engineering teams are so focused on making the Evolved Services Platform so Open.  They have incorporated Openstack and Open Daylight (SDN) protocol suite; they’ve made it fully compliant with ETSI NfV (MANO), 3GPP Gi-LAN and more.  In fact, their efforts in the more than 60 standards bodies helps us to factor into our roadmaps the latest understanding of the current standards and, just as importantly, where they are going.

But in addition to standards, the Cisco Evolved Services Platform needs to also be multi-vendor.  And on the first day of our largest tradeshow of the year, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where pleased to highlight Broadsoft, Intel and Mavenir are joining in their endorsement of our approach.  Here’s what they said:

“At BroadSoft we are the leading application provider and working toward the NFV implementation with an open eco-system. We share an open platform strategy with Cisco around virtualization, orchestration and automation that provides an environment where customers, partners, and independent developers can freely innovate and develop integrated applications that offer greater value to users.  We are excited to work with Cisco to provide a virtualized/orchestrated VoLTE solution on the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Scott Hoffpauir, Chief Technology Officer, BroadSoft.

“With the virtualization capabilities enabled with the Evolved Services Platform, Cisco is able to address industry requirements for orchestration of services across both virtual and physical infrastructure,” said Rose Schooler, Vice President and General Manager of the Intel Communications and Storage Infrastructure Group.  “By utilizing the advanced features of the Intel Xeon server platform, Cisco is able to deliver solution architectures that are enabling the performance agility on fully open compute systems that service providers need to quickly scale new services, more customized to customer needs, with a faster time to market.”

“Virtualization is transforming our business by providing the agility, flexibility and profitability for service innovations. More importantly, providing  a cloud platform that is open, extensible and elastic for mobile solution providers is a key step toward realizing this direction. We are pleased to see Cisco making this vision a reality to the industry and its partners by providing the Cisco Evolved Services Platform.”, said Bahram Jalalizadeh, EVP of Business Development, Mavenir Systems

These, along with Openwave Mobility and Metaswitch, make up the initial members of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform Ecosystem, to help avoid making multi-vendor environment hamper a SP operations but rather to help give the service provider flexibility to pursue even more opportunities as they stay Open for business.

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Expanding the Quantum Software Suite

A year ago we introduced the Cisco Quantum Software suite based on an architectural construct of an automated, closed loop -- linking network, analytics and policy -- to help Mobile Operators better optimize and monetize their network investments.  We announced the network abstraction, analytics, policy and self-optimizing network (SON) platforms. At the Mobile World Congress 2014, we are expanding the software suite in several ways:

Cisco Quantum SON for Small Cells

We’re taking the industry’s most deployed and proven SON solution for multi-vendor, multi-technology macro radio and extending that to multi-vendor Small Cells. This is an industry first.

As the industry evolves, Small cells -- 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi -- will far outnumber macro base stations and are quickly becoming a requirement for broad coverage and capacity at the lowest cost per bit. But some of these benefits are wasted if small cells are not seamlessly coordinated with the rest of the radio network.
By supporting small cells, Cisco Quantum SON now enables true heterogeneous access and seamless experience. And being multi-vendor, operators can include their existing small cell investments, unifying the entire radio network into a single intelligent entity.

In fact, Read More »

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Virtualization Technology for the Real World, Today

A few years ago at Mobile World Congress (well more than a few, perhaps…), I was speaking with the CTO of a top tier Mobile Operator about a newly emerging technology called IMS.  It seemed that every vendor was promising how IMS was going to change the world.  This very wise CTO stated that he needs to see a tangible benefit or value from a new technology to be interested.  “I will only buy a new technology if you can show me how it can (a) do something I cannot do today, or (b) improve the way I am doing something today.  I will not buy technology for the sake of technology.”  This simple axiom is a great lens to look through as one views all new technologies – and that is certainly the case for the current industry discussion around Virtualization – or more accurately from Cisco’s perspective on the topic, Virtualization and Orchestration.

But instead of joining in with the multitudes talking about the wonders of the technology, arguing around technical specs or nomenclature, the lesson from the CTO instead guides me to talk about what it can do for the service provider business.

That’s why our announcement today of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform has a decidedly business bent.  Yes, it is a Read More »

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