By Ernest Worthman —
The mobile industry remains some way off from understanding how best to apply software-defined networking (SDN). SDN can add brains to the network by placing the focus on network intelligence rather than outright speed or bandwidth. This approach has a number of advantages. First of all, it
can work across the different elements of a mobile network, such as the control plane or application layer. Second, it optimizes resources. Third, it integrates disparate technologies much more efficiently and effectively. The end result is that all of this translates into faster speed, better performance, and fewer bottlenecks due to the efficient, autonomous utilization of network resources.
As everything moves to virtualization, existing hardware such as test and measurement equipment will become software modules, rather than hardware running through the cloud or existing servers. This means such processes can run constantly and continually monitor the network. In turn, the data can be assessed in real time by the intelligence and perform on-the-fly tweaking and instantaneous problem resolution.
In a recent report, wireless consulting firm iGR defined three types of mobile virtualization. Mobile application virtualization is when an application is separated from the other apps and services running on a mobile device. Mobile access virtualization occurs when a mobile device connects to multiple radio access networks (RAN) transparently to the user. Mobile core virtualization is when the evolved packet core (EPC) is fully virtualized and runs in a data center with off-the-shelf hardware.
“It is easy to talk about ‘virtualizing the mobile network,’ but the actual implementation becomes complex very quickly,” said Iain Gillott, president and founder of iGR. “The virtualization effort permeates numerous elements, including end user devices such as smartphones and tablets, the EPC, the core SON, 4G network servers, eNodeBs, small cells, and various APIs. Consequently, mobile virtualization can mean many things to many people.”
Ernest Worthman is the editor of the Small Cell magazine.