While NFV attempts to put future Telecom in software-based virtual network functions (VNFs), rendering them hardware-independent, can service providers ignore their hardware? Is there still a place for ATCA platforms and switches in the NFV era?
At this stage in Telecom network evolution, orchestrators and controllers do not provide the necessary level of reliability and still have not solved all the redundancy challenges. Telcos are still likely to deploy carrier-grade hardware to ensure the reliability of network functions. We also have to consider network-edge functions that are localized in Points of Service and Central Offices.
The number of POSs and COs often extends into the hundreds, if not thousands, per country. With all that investment sunk into infrastructure, including significant rack depth (20”), DC connectivity, and special cooling methods – will service providers, who are always motivated to reduce OPEX and CAPEX, make immediate and massive investments in modernizing all those sites to achieve the economies of NFV via datacenter COTS hardware?
Probably not in the near term.
So, it appears that ATCA still has a bright future, at least during the transition-to-NFV period. Service providers can enjoy the advantages of both worlds, implementing VNFs inside a carrier-grade platform, i.e., “Closed Virtualization”. In this way, they can benefit from the speed and flexibility that VNFs provide—rapid service introduction with ongoing flexibility and automation—while relying on the tried-and-true, carrier-grade, high-availability equipment of their existing infrastructure.
Telco Systems’ ATCA product family, especially the T-ATCA404, suit this steady, controlled migration trend perfectly. Adding the carrier-grade BINOX™ operating system suite—including Carrier Ethernet 2.0 compliance, numerous network-edge features, the latest OAM standards (Y.1731,RFC2544) and OpenFlow/NETCONF support—guarantees a smooth, manageable migration as service providers transition from hardware-only network solutions to the brave new world of NFV.