Distributed Access Architecture (DAA) is the most significant cable network architecture evolution of the last 20 years. Not since the introduction of digital fiber optic backbones and hybrid fiber coax (HFC) technology has there been such a dramatic architectural change. This is an exciting time for service providers, because this shift creates a unique opportunity to transform from beyond managing and maintaining a network infrastructure to owning and innovating end-to-end services for profitable growth.

Digital optical interconnects and HFC technologies were network engineering driven initiatives that primarily focused on simplifying the network physical layer and reducing CAPEX. DAA opens an entirely new framework that will enable operators to benefit from improved service velocity, increased network flexibility and superior services resiliency. Cloud native technologies will play a central role in enabling these benefits.

With cloud native technology, network functions are broken into multiple small functional blocks called microservices. These microservices are managed and coordinated by a new “orchestration” layer that didn’t exist before. The location of network functions is no longer fixed and can reside on one or multiple compute servers, located at the same or different locations. All of the required functions work together in a coordinated way across a highly scalable Layer 3 network.

Sounds like a much more complex network, right? Yes, it is! However, by turning each network function into one or more microservices that are functionally independent of each other, the results move the industry forward in ways that weren’t possible before:

  • Testing and introduction of new functions is vastly simplified
  • The network becomes significantly more resilient
  • Configuration changes benefit from consistency and quality, enabled by automation
  • Automation dramatically reduces errors that result in service disruption

The challenge of evolving the cable access to cloud is to achieve the benefits of improved feature velocity and system resiliency, while masking the underlying complexity of network engineering and maintaining a robust virtual overlay connection scheme. For an operator, independently making the transition to the cloud is a daunting task that is likely only achievable by a very few.

The formula for cloud success is to evolve to the cloud-based network as seamlessly as possible and to make operating the cloud-based network simpler than operating the physical network it replaces—while minimizing migration and operations risk. To achieve this requires having a “buffer” between operations and the underlying complexity of macro services, orchestration and Layer 3 connections, so that they do not have to be directly managed.

To successfully accomplish near seamless migration to the cloud, you need a vendor that has a complete, proven, end-to-end capability of providing Layer 3 software and hardware solutions. A vendor with extensive data center experience. A vendor with automation software, orchestration software, Converged Interconnect Network (CIN) capability and network security expertise, in addition to cloud native CCAP and Remote PHY solutions. A vendor with solutions that are comprehensive, open and support standards-based interoperability.

Migration to the cloud holds the promise of making networks more efficient and resilient, while reducing operating costs and taking cable operators to a new level of competitiveness with the ability to offer new and better services. To achieve these benefits requires a cloud native solution that removes the underlying complexities of managing microservices, orchestration and IP connections for the operator, and a vendor with the capability to help the operator achieve a seamless migration.

We continue to push the leading edge in service provider innovation and we want to take you with us on this exciting journey. Talk to us at Cisco—we can help you navigate your journey to a cloud native cable access infrastructure.