Why programmable networks will change the future of networking

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We are in the midst of a veritable explosion – of devices, digital services, ultra-HD videos, monstrous volumes of data and everything in between. Emerging tech and 5G promises a boom in mobile network bandwidth and an explosion in the number of IoT devices. Nokia Bell Labs predicts that the number of devices is expected to balloon from 1.6 billion in 2014 to more than 20 billion devices by 2020. Legacy networks are not equipped to deal with this onslaught. This could be why more and more service providers today are seeking ways to deal with the ever-increasing connectivity demands by adopting network function virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies to take advantage of the flexibility they offer.

Beyond just flexibility, one of the major reasons to consider is that the DNA of network infrastructure of 5G and IoT vary significantly. Network slicing will play a crucial role in 5G networks. 5G NFV will slice the network into multiple virtual networks to support various 5G use cases. In the same way, IoT connects objects over the Internet and the SDN provides orchestration for network management by separating the control plane and the data plane. SDN provides flexibility and programmability without altering the existing network architecture in anyway.

In short, programmable networks will offer service providers the speed and agility required to manage this tough terrain called Emerging Tech. It allows for separation of the hardware and software levels of the network, leveraging the power of SDN to manage network traffic. Furthermore, the use of open APIs as defined by the open communities will bring a level of vendor-neutrality, which is a pre-requisite for any kind of automation. A level of disaggregation will also open up opportunities for new players to enter the industry quickly, even those who are unfamiliar with the complexities of networking. Making the most of software-defined networking and network function virtualisation technologies, programmability can be extended to FTTx, Radio Access Networks and Optical and Transport Networks. At STL, we refer to this as PODS (Programmable Open Disaggregated Solutions)

Here’s how PODS will help service providers:

  • Programmable access & edge: Extending programmability to FTTX will elevate the service provider’s business model and reduce time to market for new digital services, which will in turn usher in edge computing by disaggregating broadband networks and re-architecting central offices
  • Programmable Radio: Radio Access Networks (RAN) accounts approximately 60-70 percent of the total cost of ownership in building and managing a network. Programmability will help disaggregate RAN, virtualise its components and realise virtualised components in the edge cloud
  • Programmable optical and transport networks: For metro-haul optical transport networks, programmability will provide a converged platform to provision multi-service packet services across the optical transport domain with a control and feedback mechanism for effective spectrum utilisation

Find out here how programmable networks can help you prepare for the data and device explosion of today and tomorrow.

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