Software-defined access (SD-Access) involves the use of software to abstract physical nodes and gateways to create a highly programmable automated access network. Based on the decoupling of control plane and forwarding plane, SD-Access aims to connect both native and traditional SDN access nodes to an SD-Access controller in the cloud, freeing ground devices from running complex controls and policies. Using service intents enables automated network configuration on any access technology. This dramatically improves the speed at which network devices are provisioned, configured and updated and provides the agility needed to deliver gigabit connectivity to homes and industries.
The SD-Access Controller is at the heart of realizing the benefits of SD-Access
A significant development in the SD-Access space is the Nokia Altiplano access controller. Along with its portfolio of SDN-native access nodes – the Lightspan series, it offers broadband operators a unified, cloud-based network management and automation solution. The solution leverages cloud-native capabilities, with network management operations configured as self-contained microservices that can be launched, deployed, and scaled as needed, increasing network programmability and the dynamism by which services broadband are defined, provisioned and managed.
A New Challenge: Gaps in Operator Computing and Cloud Capabilities
While SD-Access and Software-Defined Access Networking (SDAN) are already on most carriers’ agenda, fully virtualizing and controlling a network from the cloud requires a wide range of deployment capabilities and operational. Among these would be an in-depth understanding of how SDAN increases network efficiency and reduces costs, and how traditional and multi-vendor network architectures can be adapted to a common cloud-based virtualized operating environment. . Since no two transition journeys are the same, expert analysis becomes essential to quantifying benefits and identifying customized journeys suited to an operator’s environment.
A newer requirement in the context of access networks is the need for robust system integration capabilities. Since it is essentially a software-based deployment, SD-Access marks a clear departure from traditional network implementations that are hardware-centric, creating a huge gap in operator readiness. Skills and expertise in systems integration, particularly in IT and cloud, which encompasses the use of microservices, DevOps, SDKs, open source and APIs, must be at the same level as other cloud deployments. These capabilities are needed not only during buildout, when legacy hardware is migrated to SD-Access nodes, but also throughout the network lifecycle, as new features are built, more complex configurations are put in place and new technologies and new suppliers enter the equation.
Cloud Acceleration Services for SDAN
Nokia Cloud acceleration services
Nokia’s cloud acceleration services address these challenges and accelerate carrier SD-Access deployments. Nokia’s Cloud Acceleration Services encompass two major service segments that are critical to supporting the operationalization of SD-Access—business and technology consulting and systems integration. Combined, they pave the way for a gradual, yet stable and reliable transition to SDAN for operators while providing new builders a fast track for their SDAN deployments.
Nokia consulting services enable operators to define their SDAN transition path, quantify the associated upstream benefits and evaluate relevant technologies. By establishing the efficiencies SDAN provides in terms of time and resources, and identifying the effect of SDAN on operators’ existing operating models, operators can determine the operational areas that will benefit the most from its adoption. They are also able to identify where the greatest OpEx savings are likely to be made, such as through proactive network maintenance, contactless device commissioning, or cycle management. life of software. Routine FCAPS tasks, for example, are expected to generate OpEx savings of 25-40%.
These analyzes will be encapsulated in a solution design and deployment plan that includes OSS guidance and a customer plan that includes service intents, controller configurations, and custom slicing models for the operator’s network. This allows operators to improve the speed at which SDAN decisions are made, particularly in identifying nodes, technologies or geographies that need to be migrated in the near term. It also helps identify areas where SDAN can help accelerate the launch of new technologies such as XGS-PON or rapidly deploy fiber networks in new geographies.
Bring IT philosophies to access network management
Operators implementing SDAN also benefit from Nokia’s structured approach to systems integration, drawn from its extensive experience in various systems integration projects. The approach greatly facilitates the deployment of SDAN which requires seamless integration at both ends – northward to the operator’s legacy/next-generation OSS, and southward to multi-vendor OLTs and ONUs.
Nokia’s structured approach embraces automated delivery, deployment and testing – typically used in IT best practices such as DevOps – to enable regular software improvements. This allows updates and new SDAN features/services to be delivered and tested in the operator’s test and validation environment before going into production, paving the way for integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). The approach not only accelerates the introduction of new features/services, but also minimizes rollbacks and downtime as operators move to SDAN. IT practices suitable for implementing SDAN include the use of CI/CD, open APIs and open source software, which together with the modular configurations enabled by the Altiplano access controller, help operators increase their serving speed.
Because cloud design and integration is a relatively new capability among operators, there is a significant need for support in designing, implementing, and operating their cloud infrastructure. Nokia services come into play in this scenario with the company supporting operators on their cloud setups, which includes designing their public cloud solutions on Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, configuring services, and finally installing and the integration of the Altiplano access controller. These extend to design and implementation across bare metal and private clouds, including designing and implementing the Kubernetes container management solution.
Nokia’s system integration services for SD-Access are supported by Nokia’s global SDAN Integration and Migration Centers, which enable re-use of advanced components, including test case and intent libraries in recurring SDAN use cases, improving time to market for new players entering the space. .
SDAN requires a disciplined approach to system integration and automation
SDAN: from quick wins to long-term wins
A highly relevant aspect of SDAN is realizing that each deployment scenario will be distinctly unique from one another, as the combination of access technologies, network topologies, vendor ecosystems, and service/ commercial varies considerably from one operator to another. However, with over 40 active customers, Nokia is able to provide insight gathered from a series of successful deployments over the past 3 years, which has seen its Altiplano Access Controller and Lightspan access node series provide SD-Access for different uses. cases and environments.
An example is the introduction of G.fast services by a North American Tier 1 operator. Given tight deadlines, the use of Nokia’s SDAN solution accelerated the deployment of a new G.fast network, with contactless provisioning and a two-vendor setup. The project saw the use of lightweight protocol adapters which allowed the operator to maximize the use of its existing IT and OSS infrastructure and accelerate the delivery of its G.fast services.
In another example, the deployment of Nokia’s SDAN solution enabled a new FTTH wholesaler operating a G-PON network to introduce more control and autonomy for its customers and tenants. With open access to its infrastructure, customers and tenants are able to customize and adjust their network slices to suit their needs, allowing the wholesale provider to successfully establish long-term contracts.
With broadband access network management pivoting to the cloud, operators should go beyond cloud basics and conquer new depths in cloud-native technologies to accelerate their SD-Access deployments. Deep IT expertise and cloud capabilities combined with deep network expertise will play a critical role as cloud-based architectures continue to define how fixed broadband access networks are controlled and managed. By combining their in-house capabilities with Nokia’s cloud acceleration services, operators can accelerate their SDAN deployments and in the process improve network performance, increase service speed and dramatically improve their bottom line.
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