Disaggregation – pain relief for mobile transport networks

Ulrich Kohn
connecting cudes

Keeping mobile networks on track is no easy task as they evolve from 2G to 3G to LTE and finally 5G. Each mobile radio innovation comes with additional requirements for the underlying transport network, resulting in new interface cards or replacement of transport network devices. This constant change creates pain for the network design teams and service teams, not to mention significant cost. A new approach for transport network evolution is overdue.

Our customers do not want to have to change their hardware when new capabilities are needed. A software-centric approach in combination with standard hardware provides the remedy. We believe in empowering our customers to flexibly build their networks with best-of-breed technology without the pain of integration issues caused by proprietary interfaces. We want them to choose from an open market of disaggregated network components.

This is what customers have long been asking for and the market is now responding. Over the last few years, various flavors of disaggregated networking have emerged:

  • With SDN, service providers can separate the data plane from the control plane. In various demonstrations, the value of multi-layer, multi-vendor transport networks has been proven. You might want to have a look at our engagement with recent OIF/ONF interoperability demos for more details. 
  • There’s also value in opening up photonic transport networks by separating the open optical line system from colored interfaces and transponders. With smart optical amplifiers, our photonic transport system is optimized for operation as an OLS with widespread deployment at internet content providers. 
  • Similarly, ADVA has pioneered the separation of hardware from software and introduced NFV at the network edge, enabling service providers to shop for virtual network functions independent from the hardware and run them on standard servers. This approach has generated excellent scalability, high flexibility and fast service innovation.

With our successful track record in pioneering network disaggregation, we’re now focusing on the next opportunity to separate physical forwarding hardware from the controlling software. Our Ensemble Activator is a carrier-grade network operating system that turns a bare metal switch into a high-performance, manageable network switch-router. Our customers can source the hardware independently from the network operating system, benefit from the open source ONIE installer for zero touch provisioning and easily integrate with open interfaces into the existing packet network as well as open management and orchestration solutions.

Today, bare-metal switches in combination with network operating systems are already widely applied in data centers, but they have not yet been able to meet the stringent requirements of public networks. We at ADVA are closing the feature gap arising from the use of data center switches in public networks. With our experience with making enterprise Ethernet carrier-grade and introducing virtualization technologies in public network, we have the knowledge and skills to move functions from hardware into software. We also have the expertise to ensure that the software solution meets stringent CSP requirements. What’s more, our Ensemble Activator builds on proven and widely applied IP and MPLS protocols, making it reliable and feature-rich right from the first release.

If you want to learn more about this, please visit our mobile network demo at MWC 2019 in Barcelona, where we’ll introduce you to the industry’s first carrier-grade network operating system for bare-metal switches.

Ulrich Kohn

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