Software-defined networks (SDN) are set to become a cornerstone for the services provided by wireless network operators, and one of the latest vendors to get into the SDN game is Tekelec, which is unveiling its ThinkingNetworks blueprint this week.
The company laid out an evolutionary path that entails four overlapping phases as it develops ThinkingNetworks, which Tekelec claims imitates the human mind in that it will self-organize, self-optimize and self-determine responses to unprecedented and unpredictable events.
Tekelec is joining a sudden rush to introduce SDN concepts to the wireless industry. For example, NEC and Telefonica last week announced they will collaborate in the development of SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies. Earlier this month, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) unveiled its SDN-based Ericsson Cloud System, which aims to virtualize certain of its existing applications and equipment, and Huawei also launched its SoftCom SDN strategy.
Tekelec's goal is to enable service provider customers to provide policy, charging and identity as cloud-based services as well as create unlimited options for partnerships and services with over-the-top (OTT) application providers, mobile advertisers and machine-to-machine (M2M) and cloud service providers, said Tekelec CTO Doug Suriano.
In phase one, the vendor is creating its New Diameter Network (NDN), a scalable NDN that orchestrates Diameter-based communications among gateways, policy servers, charging systems, subscriber profile databases and mobility and session management functions.
Phase two entails execution of the NDN on a fully virtualized cloud computing platform, which Tekelec has trademarked as CloudXG. "The scalable intelligence, capacity and control provided in the CloudXG phase allows operators to extend their business models beyond access services," said the company.
MobileSocial, Tekelec's third phase, offers a Big Data Mobile Repository database, OTT application management function, mobile policy gateway and traffic detection function.
In phase four, Tekelec expects the network evolution plan will culminate in its ultimate goal of ThinkingNetworks, which Suriano said will "elevate the role of mobile operators as digital lifestyle providers and as major players in the expanding mobile social ecosystem."
Essential elements included in this phase are the network event listener, which reports on network events--such as congestion on the radio access network and excessive invocation of policies---to the policy-directed SDN controller, which makes decisions using rules-based policy engine.
SDN and virtualization, which offer potentially disruptive approaches to the whole concept of networking, are becoming big stories across the wireless and wireline industries.
In a recent report, Ovum said flatter architectures are taking the place of the three-tier hierarchy (access, aggregation and core) of network architecture, virtualized application software is replacing network appliances and network infrastructure is becoming much more programmable.
"SDN has already had a major impact on the communications industry by providing a focal point for a revitalized interest in networking," said David Krozier, principal analyst on the network infrastructure telecoms team, which recently issued a report on SDN. "SDN provides an opportunity to completely reexamine network architectures, introduce virtualization and provide truly innovative solutions."
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