Integrating the EPC and IMS into the Telco Cloud
Today’s communications providers (CSPs) face a range of challenges: Exploding network traffic, declining profit margins, over-the-top (OTT) competition and soaring consumer expectations. At the same time, the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation looms, promising additional complexity and a need for business transformation.
As CSPs make the journey from legacy networks built on monolithic, proprietary network elements to more agile, flexible architectures, they gain operational and revenue-based benefits. The goal is to enable the Telco Cloud, which combines a programmable network; common orchestration, policy, analytics, and control; and flexible service platforms, all enabled by network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN).
The Next-Gen Mobile Packet Core
Affirmed Networks, a leader in the virtualization of mobile networks, has released a pre-integrated, fully virtualized end-to-end mobile packet core solution as part of the HPE partner program ecosystem. The fully ETSI NFV– and 3GPP-compliant combined solution consists of Affirmed’s virtualized evolved packet core, or vEPC, and HPE’s NFV infrastructure (NFVi) portfolio, including carrier-grade OpenStack and orchestration capabilities. The combined solution is built on open-source architecture that helps minimize capital and operational expenditures.
Unique solution benefits include faster time-to-market and reduced deployments times: Affirmed offers automated configuration management capabilities, embedded virtual probes and a 5G-ready core that decouples the user and control planes, moving services and applications closer to the network edge. And, a selection of pre-integrated and tested end-to-end solutions allow CSPs to exceed their NFV deployment objectives.
Leveraging their joint support of more than 20 production NFV deployments, Affirmed Networks and HPE are helping CSPs experience the transformational benefits of NFV as quickly as possible.
“The virtualization of mobile networks is well underway, as operators globally have embraced the many benefits of NFV,” said Amit Tiwari, vice president of strategic alliances and systems engineering at Affirmed. “As is the case with the shift toward any new network architecture, there continue to be valuable lessons that are learned throughout the deployment process. Our work with HPE is focused on undertaking a rigorous pre-deployment testing and integration process that is capable of accelerating deployments.”
Cloud-native IMS + NFV
Metaswitch meanwhile has integrated its virtualized IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) core with HPE’s Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade and the NFV Director orchestration platform. The idea is to accelerate fixed and mobile network operators’ deployments of advanced services, including VoLTE, VoWiFi and messaging on private, public or hybrid cloud infrastructures. Using NFV, CSPs can achieve dynamic, on-demand scaling that is far more cost-effective to plan, operate and support than legacy approaches.
Cloud-native IMS installs in hours, not months, solving the challenge of IMS deployment complexity, without compromising carrier-grade performance, reliability or manageability. And on the service innovation front, CSPs can use Metaswitch’s microservices-based, modular software solutions to flexibly evolve existing services and develop new applications, without monolithic legacy software limitations and overhead.
Metaswitch’s Cloud Native IMS Core includes the Clearwater S/I-CSCFs and the Perimeta Session Border Controller (SBC), providing a critical framework to transition communication services to cloud infrastructures. With this integration, Metaswitch becomes the first integrated software vendor (ISV) to complete all levels of certification in the HPE OpenNFV Partner Program.
“The integration of Metaswitch IMS and HPE Helion enables CSPs to take full advantage of breakthrough cloud economics when bringing advanced voice services to market,” said Brandon Harper, senior vice president of business development at Metaswitch. “The combined solution builds on our commitment to cloud-native software development, and furthers our close collaboration with HPE, which stands at the forefront of NFV platform and infrastructure virtualization.”
The Importance of an Ecosystem Approach
As NFV has evolved from lab experiments to live production, one thing has become abundantly clear: It doesn’t make sense for one vendor to try to create a closed, vertically integrated NFV stack. Instead, as the above new solutions showcase, the keys to unlocking NFV transformation are multivendor integration and interoperability.
The partnerships enabled by the HPE OpenNFV program offers a carrier-grade foundation for programmable infrastructure, so that anyone—telecom suppliers, network equipment providers, independent software vendors—can test and integrate multivendor NFV solutions for CSP networks.
HPE OpenNFV is a vibrant and growing ecosystem of almost 100 partners. This includes vendors that provide technologies that are deeply integrated with the HPE open NFV software stack, dozens of partners providing virtualized network functions (VNFs) and applications, as well as system integrators specializing in NFV implementation.