Is Network Function Optimization the new SDN/NFV?
The other day I was watching an episode of Blackadder, arguably one of the best British sitcoms of all time. The episode was about the creation of the world’s first comprehensive dictionary and the following line caught my attention:
“For I celebrated last night the encyclopedic implementation of my pre-meditated orchestration of demotic Anglo-Saxon.”
“Pre-meditated orchestration? Sounds a lot like SDN,” I thought. It also reminded me that we use a lot of jargon these days when talking about software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). Having an agreed dictionary of terms for SDN/NFV is important so that we all speak the same language, which is why Nokia and the wider industry is putting a great deal of effort into open initiatives like CORD/ONOS and standardization bodies like the Broadband Forum. But it’s also clear that it takes more than just listing the right words to create a compelling story. And, like in the Blackadder episode, it’s hard workto read an encyclopedia.
Nokia has done significant pioneering work on SDN and NFV and we know it takes some craft to determine what makes sense (and what doesn’t). Operators around the world agree with our take on software-defined access networks (SDAN) and how we turn the hyperbole of SDN/NFV into pragmatic applications for fixed networks.
So keeping the encyclopedia at arm’s length, Nokia has clarified matters further with the over-arching notion of network function optimization. Put simply, instead of applying SDN/NFV to the entire access network, network function optimization is about creating the optimum balance of virtualized and physical functions. We apply SDN/NFV where it makes sense to solve a problem or make a significant improvement. The balance changes from network to network, operator to operator, depending on business priorities, customer priorities, and network architectures.
Like a common thread, regardless of the type of access network – copper, fiber, coaxial or hybrid – the principles of network function optimization are the same:
- Software-defined control to increase agility and network programmability
- Distribute functions to manage more subscribers and more capacity at the lowest total cost of ownership
- Phased evolution by adding a software controller to seamlessly deploy with existing OSS
The beauty of this approach is that it allows operators to reap the benefits of SDN/NFV – operational agility, the ability to scale, and a significant reduction in costs – without disrupting or overhauling current operations. Instead of forklift changes, SDN and NFV can be adopted gradually via new technologies that come with bandwidth and services upgrades.
New launches support fast, easy ultra-broadband deployment
In cable, we’ve just launched our unified cable access solution which applies SDN/NFV to the cable head-end (CCAP) functions to simplify the network and its operations. In copper, we’re applying programming from the cloud to G.fast networks, which helps operators to quickly deploy and provision large numbers of reverse powered access nodes. And as fiber operators transition from GPON to NG-PON technologies, we’re moving optical network terminal (ONT) management and workflow automations to the cloud to increase agility and availability. For residential and enterprise services we are providing virtualization of gateway functions to simplify operations and ease introduction of new services without the need to interfere manually.
Like Blackadder, I could offer “my most enthusiastic contrafibularities to any encyclopedic implementation of pre-meditated orchestration,” but I’d rather say: Stay tuned for more chapters on Nokia’s network function optimization and how we apply it.
P.S. For the curious readers – here’s a short snippet of that Blackadder episode.
Let’s continue the discussion at the Broadband World Forum in London on October 18-20.
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