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Cox Communication Automates Virtualized Services with Cisco Evolved Services Platform


October 1, 2014 - 0 Comments

There is a video available on YouTube describing a collaborative project with Cox Communications on virtualized residential services.  Dave Ward, Senior VP and CTO at Cisco Systems, is joined by Jeff Finklestein, Executive Director of Architecture at Cox Communications, and Alon Bernstein, Distinguished Engineer at Cisco. They discuss, in the context of Cisco’s Evolved Services Platform (ESP), how to rapidly implement a new service idea that Jeff and Dave cooked up: self-service virtual residential services.

In the proposed solution, a Cox customer logs in to a screen such as the following, and sees a virtual representation of services they can enable themselves from their home. 1

Jeff identified services such as DMZ (e.g., parental control) and cloud (e.g., cloud DVR), and Alon’s team mapped these services to the physical and virtual infrastructure that can implement them.

Using this self service portal, the services can be instantiated with ease—no waiting for a technician, no need for a truck roll. Instead, the customer clicks on a service, the relevant infrastructure is chained together, and the service is put into force. This is Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) in action.

This agile development is made possible through the innovative services modules of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP) and the use of open standards such as OpenStack and OpenDaylight (ODL).

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The Service Broker that leverages Cisco Prime Service Catalog is the storefront of the Residential Services Platform. Service Profiles from customers are stored persistently and mapped to stateful network characteristics, and the Catalog of Virtual Functions maintains a database of the virtualized network elements that can quickly be brought into play in the customer-specified services.

The brains behind the operation is the Orchestration Engine, which consists in this case of Cisco technologies including the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator, leveraging technology from Tail-f that link a standard cable modem, through DOCSIS, to the physical gateway routers and VNFs (such as firewalls, cloud services routers, and web security appliances) that are chained together to form the services.

By leveraging OpenStack and ODL, the solution can be rapidly adapted to add new services such as packet cable multimedia (PCMM). As Jeff points out in the video, the PCMM adapter was developed by CableLabs and submitted into ODL. This is yet another example of how services built with the ESP can be ported to industry standard hardware platforms in other data centers for any service provider.

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