Co-Authored by Ian Hood, Senior Manager, Service Provider Architecture & Dan Kurschner, Senior Manager, Service Provider Mobility

Business Challenge:  Everything Goes Mobile

The dynamic state of the business of service providers is quite apparent these days, and perhaps this is most evident for the mobility providers as everyone and everything goes mobile.  All of their consumers, be they individual or business, are clamoring for new capabilities that can automate their business and simplify their lives.  In addition there is a new class (or breed) of consumer – “Things”.  Whether it is the connected car, city, bus, or kitchen appliances, “Things” are increasingly using the mobile network.  Many of these new services and applications are readily available from “Over the Top” (OTT) providers that do not necessarily have any network upon which to deliver them. The OTT business model is designed for service creation agility, leaving it up to the operators to provide network access, quality of experience, and service assurance while managing the exploding demands for bandwidth and spectrum.

Demand on mobile networks is growing at phenomenal rates and that pace is accelerating.  Scaling networks up to now has been a hardware and bandwidth game, but operators must now scale their compute and control aspects as well, while delivering consistently reliable services.  Effective network scaling will be driven by parallel software and automation of service creation to take advantage of on-demand resources.  Of course, this won’t happen overnight, but like other technology evolutions in the past, the operators who embrace this opportunity, will lead the market.  Most service providers want their business to be more than a simple connective pipe and are looking for ways to improve their service agility, while still providing service level guarantees. What can service providers do to reduce costs now, enabling them to invest in new services and expand their business? The move toward an open, agile and application-centric network make compelling sense as a potential solution to this conundrum.

Choices:  How Do We Use SDN and NFV?

Software defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) are still fairly nascent technologies in the marketplace.  Service providers are investigating their options that leverage and combine the benefits of these technologies while vendors need to deliver and prove the viability of their solutions.  “Technology must solve problems and improve the bottom line”.  Service providers are looking at strategy and solutions from their traditional technology partners and from a host of new players hoping to take advantage of this shift in the industry.  NFV is more than just an evolution of the operator network to cloud, but is really a transformation away from a collection of multiple isolated networks and custom built operations to an open ecosystem and orchestrated set of virtualized software functions. Combining NFV, SDN and contributions from open source software communities  (e.g  OpenStack, Open Daylight) will enable operators to realize an evolving business model in the face of strong market demands and competition from a host of agile new players.

Service providers are looking for technology and business partners that are viable (will be around tomorrow) who can help them innovate, deliver, and scale. But what are the criteria for success?

A few key questions to ask potential partners:

  1. Is this solution designed to fully deliver all of the services that will scale and meet the demands of my target customers?
  2. How well can this virtualized solution work within our existing network and service architecture?
  3. How “Open” is their solution in terms of using standards and open source software?

We have seen many “focused” solutions in the industry that seem interesting on the surface, but in reality are quite limited in both functional capabilities as well as in service scale. Service providers are looking for partners that will deliver a robust solution that can scale to meet growing demands.   A lot of resources in time and money been spent by the operators to build reliable networks.  Any new service capability must be able to fully function within that existing network and into the operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) while reducing overall costs.   Much has been said about the developing standards and workgroups to assure a path to open standards. One of the promises of this new age is freedom to choose the best pieces from multiple vendors to create your network solution.  The ability to interoperate and integrate technologies from multiple vendors as seamlessly as those from a single vendor is of great importance to the success of service providers.  Often we see solution offerings that promise to be fully open only to learn that anything other than support for the most basic functions requires a proprietary solution.   A fresh approach to the entire service delivery architecture is needed that is much more agile and operators must rethink how they engage their customers to optimize what services they have accelerate enhance their revenue streams.

What is the Cisco Evolved Services Platform?

Cisco’s Evolved Services Platform (ESP) and Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) are complementary platforms that deliver seamless management and orchestration of the physical and virtualized network. Unlike some orchestrators that only handle a specific virtualized function, ESP is designed to orchestrate the entire network and its services. The Cisco ESP is able to manage bandwidth demands, compute resources, and network requirements without operator intervention. With ESP, the service provider can improve their agility while delivering service assurance.

Today, Cisco and their technology partners offer the most complete portfolio of virtualized network functions (VNF) available across many technology domains. For mobile network operators, the Cisco Quantum Virtual Packet Core (QvPC) which has been touted by top industry professionals as “the most complete virtual EPC portfolio and one of the most mature product offers on the market”.   Cisco also offers many additional virtualized network service capabilities in the Quantum software suite, including the Quantum Policy Suite (QPS), Virtualized Gi-LAN (Quantum Services Platform) and virtualized abstraction layer (Quantum Services Bus).  Cisco also offers Video Optimization, IMS/VoLTE, and many other virtualized network functions enabling operators to create amazing new mobile services.  Capabilities like Self Organized Networks (SON) and WAN Automation work together using real time analytics to make adjustments to the network to deliver the highest quality of user experience.

Having the broadest offering of NFV combined with automation, orchestration, and management tools with Open APIs is still not enough.  Cisco services working alongside our partners provide unsurpassed expertise to help service providers succeed at every phase —  to plan, build, customize, and manage these new classes of mobile services .

Mobile operators can efficiently optimize their network and data center resources with the Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP), automating creation and provisioning of their services on-demand.    Mobile customers will be able to access a self-service portal, selecting whatever services they wish to add, and the Cisco ESP provisions and enables them on the fly, without any operator intervention.  Service providers are already deploying many innovative new mobile services with the Cisco ESP, reducing their costs at up to 45%, while expanding their businesses.

To learn more on how to expand your business, read and share this short overview.


To learn more, visit the following:
(1) Cisco Evolved Programmable Network
(2) Cisco Evolved Services Platform
(3) Cisco Quantum Policy Suite
(4) Cisco Quantum Services Bus
(5) Cisco Quantum Services Platform
(6) Cisco Quantum SON Suite

Tweet us @CiscoSP360 if you have any questions or would like to request a demo.


Ian A. Hood

Senior Architect – Service Provider Business

Cisco Development Organization (CDO)