There was a time when launching a virtual network meant creating an mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). From enabling access to the network, to launching the brand, to developing a customer base – everything took its time.
But the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) is now changing all that. The number of potential virtual networks is virtually limitless. Auto brands want to use networks to support a connected car service. Home owners want to control their appliances, lighting, and thermostats from their phones. Cities and local authorities want to create smart cities – bringing together their streetlamps, parking meters, traffic management systems and more.
This world is arriving fast – and it’s a world of opportunity for service providers. But to take advantage, they’ll need to be able to do a lot of different things: to get new products to market fast, to extend and update, to offer different levels of service, and to make it possible for other developers to build the applications that will make all this happen.
Sounds like a big ask? At Cisco, we’re leading the way in building the foundations to make this vision possible, with our programmable networking and virtualisation technology.
Introducing the agile virtual network
Let’s dig deeper into the idea of a smart city. A smart traffic management system has the potential to bring a host of benefits like reducing congestion, accidents and pollution – even as the number of cars on our roads increases. But it needs to be underpinned by a network that draws together information from sources like vehicle and road sensors to manage and direct traffic.
A network with such an important role must be able to guarantee capacity. Cisco’s technology helps here, by using software to build agile virtual networks not constrained by the limits of their physical infrastructure. A programmable network is more efficient because it’s flexible in the way it provisions its capacity, knowing where data is most needed and sending it there. What’s more, most of this functioning can be automated, bringing real savings on operational costs.
The agility of programmable networks can help smart cities in other ways, too – like empowering them to connect their traffic platforms to the wider network. We use open API standards and YANG data models to build our software, because this helps different parts of the network to ‘talk to each other’ easily. So it’s straightforward for a traffic management system using our programmable network technology to take on board future developments like new roads, roadworks or driverless cars – and to be joined together with other parts of the smart city.
Once the foundations of a programmable network are in place, a provider has the opportunity to sell other services, like enhanced security. And it can add further services to the mix as they’re developed, offering different options tailored to suit each customer. A network defined by software rather than physical equipment offers flexibility now, and plenty of room for future growth.
How virtual is becoming actual in Hamburg
One location where Cisco technology is being used to create flexible, agile virtual networks is Hamburg. The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) was previously relying on four different networks, which couldn’t communicate with each other, for traffic management and communication.
Cisco virtual network technology is now being used to integrate these networks and manage lots of different aspects of city life – including traffic management, smart parking, and connected port logistics. The Port of Hamburg is now increasing trade flows, protecting resources, and improving the daily lives of its citizens. It’s projecting a 70% reduction in operational costs over the next seven years.
As impressive as a project like this may be, we think that so far we’ve only scratched the surface of what our technology can do – and we’re enthusiastic about the vast range of possibilities for creating intelligent, responsive virtual networks.
Have we whet your appetite for a new project? Get in touch to find out how we can help.
- There was a time when launching a virtual network meant creating an MVNO. But the growth of IoT is now changing all that. The number of potential virtual networks is virtually limitless.
- This is a world of opportunity for service providers. But to take advantage, they’ll need to be able to get new products to market fast, to extend and update them, to offer different levels of service, and to make it possible for other developers to build applications.
- Cisco’s technology helps here, by using software to build agile virtual networks not constrained by the limits of their physical infrastructure. A programmable network is more efficient because it is flexible in the way it provisions its capacity.
- Most of this functioning can be automated, bringing real savings on operational costs.
- Cisco uses open API standards and YANG data models to build its software, because this enables different parts of the network to ‘talk to each other’ easily. So it’s straightforward to take on board future developments and connect to other networks.
Learn more about innovation in Programmable Networks here or watch our expert interview about Programmable Network.