Service providers around the world are witnessing exponential increases in bandwidth demand. Explosive growth in connections and bandwidth caused by world-wide remote working creates a massive spike in traffic that is largely being satisfied with current capacity and network designs. But long-term impacts of "new normal" traffic baselines, accompanied by an expected dramatic increase in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) traffic from Internet of Things (IoT) deployments, places a tremendous strain on communication networks.
As the demand for cloud and mobile applications grows and the impact of 5G networks emerges, tomorrow’s network edge needs much greater functionality and scale than is required today. Service capabilities and the demand for low-latency, highly scalable resources are driving a need for network edge transformation. The key question facing service providers is how to revamp their network to profitably meet the needs of the internet of the future.
At Cisco, we’re helping network operators adopt a distributed design of network resources supporting the ultra-low latency requirements emerging from cloud applications for services such as autonomous driving. To effectively and efficiently manage a distributed design requires a network based on common hardware, software and protocols, allowing the operator to converge services and functions onto one network. Using common infrastructure elements enables the network operator to simplify operational tasks, build end-to-end orchestration and management, and converge traffic flows to operate one network in support of their customers.
Using a distributed design to remove the potential roadblock of backhaul transport, network operators can build partnerships with other application providers at their edge to offer high-margin progressive services and features. Creating a converged network with common protocols allows for end-to-end software defined networking policies that enable services and service activations across multi-vendor environments. This presents the opportunity for improved infrastructure stability, resulting in cost savings and the ability to operate networks that scale with existing and new infrastructure hardware, rather than just rip-and-replace scalability.
Operating a converged network offers four significant benefits to service providers:
1. Simplification: Providers reduce costs by having fewer moving parts. Bringing the convergence point for access networks (residential, wireless, and business) closer to the edge and onto a single IP architecture allows providers to simplify their networks and traffic flows earlier.
2. Improved Performance: Using routing portfolio systems that offer flexible scalability with support for 1G to 400G ports reduces the cost of transporting data. Additionally, using IP as the baseline protocol facilitates the introduction of a common network fabric for improved resiliency.
3. Agility: Using cloud-enhanced services provides more insight and control of the underlying distributed deployments. This creates visibility into the network and provides flexible resource allocation on the service edge for content delivery.
4. Automation: Automating routine tasks and programming automated responses to network events modernizes operations. End-to-end automation and orchestration improve deployment efficiencies, decrease troubleshooting efforts, and allow for Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) updates on a massive scale to ensure ubiquity in the configurations and network performance.
A service-oriented edge design
As network edge locations evolve to facilitate distributed service and application computing, a key functional component of a converged network is the edge router. This device sets the tone for the transport experience, and when done correctly enables cloud application, content, and service providers to support varied consumption experiences for their clients. To be successful, edge routers need to be programmable, feature-rich, and offer support for legacy and forward-looking protocols. Modern edge routers must be highly scalable, support high capacity, and enable ultra-low latency performance to meet the emerging requirements for fixed and mobile traffic.
Proper edge routers help service providers modernize their edge network and build systems for end-to-end orchestration. These designs help rein in costs while managing and delivering high-quality experiences on the network. The Cisco ASR 9000 router platform is designed for a distributed networking environment, either as the edge unit or the market aggregation unit. With robust segment routing policies that feed traffic into network slices, as well as automation for network management to improve performance, service providers can use the ASR 9000 family to offer tailored service levels to clients. These tailored offers vary in price and performance, allowing the service provider to maintain a higher operating margin on services that place greater demands on the network.
These higher margin services increase the demand placed on the edge network, so the infrastructure supporting the edge needs to evolve with simplified operations using automation and cloud technology integrations. Using Software Defined Networking (SDN) tools to coordinate the orchestration and stitch together the different domains will become imperative to operate at the speed needed for cloud services. The Cisco converged transport infrastructure offers a solution for network operators to build the common infrastructure elements that effectively integrate cloud services with SDN orchestration. This is key to building the service-oriented edge to support the network of the future.
To learn how Cisco’s converged network philosophy can help you build a congestion-free, 5G-ready network, please start here.
— Dan Crawford, Technical Marketing Engineer & Josh Holmes, Product Marketing Manager, Cisco
This content is sponsored by Cisco