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Apr 13 2016

Why it’s good to teach your network to share – new white paper

Twitter: @EsterNava

The next evolutionary step in the cloudification of telco networks is here

Optimized cloud applications
Imagine driving a truck along a highway. Towing a large, heavy trailer packed with stuff, you feel the vehicle is sluggish. Now, imagine you remove the trailer– suddenly the truck is more responsive and easier to control. You are able to change speeds quickly and climb hills with ease.

It’s not an exact analogy but hopefully it gives you an idea of the impact of the next phase in moving networks fully into the cloud – the Shared Data Layer.

The story of the telco cloud began a few years ago as core networks became virtualized with Virtual Network Functions, or VNFs, being deployed. Today, almost everything in the mobile network is moving into the cloud. This has brought significant benefits to operators in the shape of greater flexibility and lower costs, as well as being better equipped to manage the unpredictability of data growth.

Yet, as networks prepare to meet the new demands of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and the deployment of 5G technologies, even greater network flexibility and efficiency will be needed. And that means further developing cloud applications, such as IMS, MME and radio elements, to gain even greater benefits from the cloud.

The next evolutionary step to simplify networks is to optimize conventional VNFs for the cloud by making them stateless. This means the VNFs no longer need to manage their own subscriber and session data and will run only the required service business logic, making them easier and faster to develop. Stateless VNFs substantially simplify networks by moving all data into a common data and session repository, the Shared Data Layer. Like our truck on the highway carrying a large load, data-heavy VNFs are less agile. The Shared Data Layer takes the load off, centralizing it in a database that all the VNFs can access when needed.

Such a data-centric network will be more robust, enable massive scaling, have much reduced signaling traffic and be easier to manage.

Signaling can be slashed by up to 90%

Shared Data Layer and cloud optimized VNFs
To put some numbers on the benefits, with dataless VNFs, in some cases we can expect to see up to 50% less signaling in a data session and up to 90% less signaling in a VoLTE session. Operators will be able to eliminate data duplication, which will in turn reduce data inconsistencies and errors.

Another major advantage is the robustness it brings. Using a Shared Data Layer means that, in the event of a failure of a VNF or in a datacenter, there will be no interruption of active sessions, helping to improve network availability.

In addition, this method allows an agile exchange of data between third party services and applications and the Shared Data Layer, while ensuring security and data privacy. The greater business agility that will be achieved will allow operators to reduce turnaround times for introducing innovative services and achieve revenue more quickly.

After visiting our stand at Mobile World Congress 2016, David Snow, Principal Analyst at Current Analysis, commented in his MWC16 report: The IPSI Roundup,

“Nokia has done a good job in highlighting the need for this (shared data) layer and giving some indications as to how it will be productized for multi-vendor VNF usage.”

So maybe now is a good time to park up your data-heavy VNF truck, unhitch the trailer and use the Shared Data Layer to innovate faster, match OTT innovation cycles and hit telco grade reliability.

Learn how to put this powerful technique into practice in your own network by reading this new Nokia white paper: “Creating a new data freedom with the Shared Data Layer

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using  #telcocloud #NFV #SDN

About Ester Navarro

Ester Navarro leads the Mobile Networks Telco Cloud product marketing team. Even in her spare time she’s cloud focused, either climbing mountain peaks or inspecting them from above while travelling around the world.