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 still in its early stages. NFV is where you separate the hardware from the software, but you need to have the orchestration and automation packaged with the virtualized solution to meet the needs of operators. But Ashkay Sharma said more and more carriers are likely to embrace NFV over the coming year as a way to protect their subscriber bases from over-the-top (OTT) rivals like Google and Skype.

MWC pic 1Figure 1: Cisco Quantum Virtualized Packet Core & Orchestration Demo

Drive to Virtualization, Orchestration, & Automation

The push toward virtualization across the entire network is real, even though some of it sounds a bit futuristic. Cisco a true leader in this space announced on February 18th more than 25 leading service providers around the globe, including China Mobile (Figure 2), Deutsche Telekom Technik GmbH, SunGard Availability Services and Telecom Italia, are transforming their networks with various aspects of the Cisco® Evolved Services Platform (ESP) to optimize network value, increase business agility and enable greater operational efficiencies.

MWC 2 photoFigure 2: China Mobile & Cisco Virtualization Demo Teams    

Cisco Virtualized Mobile Internet – The Internet Of Things (IOT) has created the need for new business models and network elasticity to handle the tremendous data growth and fluctuations. According to the Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index (see Cisco VNI) about 2 Billion new devices (vehicle telematics, smart meters, etc.) will enter onto the network by 2018. Without capacity scalability with automated orchestration, operators will be left behind with networks that take 6, 12, 18 or more months to turn up new capacity.  Such capabilities are now possible with the introduction of the Cisco Quantum™ Virtualized Packet Core (vPC). It is currently in trials at China Mobile and other service providers around the globe, and also part of the China Mobile Booth Demonstration at MWC.

As one of the industry’s first commercial virtualized evolved packet cores, the new Cisco Quantum™ Virtualized Packet Core (vPC) solution redefines the paradigm of agility for service providers. It can enable them to capture untapped revenue opportunities, particularly with the proliferation of Internet of Everything (IoE) and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections.

Quantum vPC is based on the same proven StarOS software used in Cisco ASR 5000 Series platforms. StarOS has been virtualized since 2009 and running on x86 processers since 2007 so this is not new to us. It is designed to distribute and orchestrate packet core functions across physical and virtual resources so you can easily transition from physical to virtualized packet ” core services, or use both simultaneously.

With the industry’s most open, comprehensive and flexible approach to software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV), Cisco on February 18th announced the expansion of our virtualization offerings for service providers with the introduction of the Cisco® Evolved Services Platform (ESP), a key element of the company’s Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE) strategy, which works in conjunction with the infrastructure layer of the architecture.

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Keith Day

Marketing Director

Service Provider Mobility Business