Engineering intelligent networks

According to Gartner’s forecast on Public Cloud Services1, end-user spending on public cloud services is expected to record a compound annual growth rate of 17.7 per cent from 2011 through 2016.

This creates a tremendous opportunity for broadband carriers to expand and enhance their broadband networks to better support and offer cloud services, and in fact, many ISPs around the world have already started offering cloud services to their customers, including residential and enterprises.

However, revenue decline, decreasing profitability and the explosive traffic growth on the existing networks hamper service providers as they strive to innovate and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Service providers want to offer cutting-edge and personalised cloud solutions to their customers while they also look to improve operational efficiency, accelerate network deployment and lower total cost of ownership. The challenge of migrating existing network architectures, managements and policy frameworks is impacting providers around the world as they work feverishly to ramp up to this new area of opportunity and demand.

Cloud services are generally understood as being combinations of communications, storage and computing services that enable convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable, rapidly provisioned resources.

These cloud computing environments require networks that can cope with high levels of traffic, as well as frequently changing types and patterns of traffic. Many of the concepts inherent in cloud services are not new, but are becoming more economically feasible and IT attractive with advances in technologies and market developments.

In considering cloud services provided in the context of multiservice broadband networks, there are a number of approaches that could be considered. These alternatives are illustrated in the following figures, indicating potential new cloud service related functions.With the creation of the Broadband Forum’s Cloud Intelligent Broadband Network (CIBN) project, service providers are being given the tools to take advantage of these market developments – helping them migrate to a cloud supporting network, reduce costs and enhancing revenue opportunities. The goal of this project is to provide the industry with the specifications needed to capitalise on the cloud service opportunity, ensuring the delivery of new services without cannibalising older ones.

This two-phased cloud project is focused on transitioning the multiservice broadband network to address the cloud requirements, incorporating a holistic approach that addresses not only the architecture, but management, policy control and the quality of experience (QoE) of cloud service offerings, while leveraging technologies such as SDN and virtualisation.Progress in SDN and virtualisation is coming fast and furious as customers increasingly push operators to find methods to provide more bandwidth or deploy applications. The world is becoming increasingly software-centric and virtualised, and getting the most efficiency and value out of data centres, along with their seamless connectivity and interoperability with evolving network operator infrastructures, is Broadband Forum’s top work in progress.