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The Force Awakens: End-to-End Service Orchestration of a vEPC use case on HPE NFV Architecture

Telco_Editor

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HPE's Network Functions Virtualization solutions aims at reducing the network complexity and related operational issues by leveraging standard IP virtualization technologies to consolidate different types of network equipment onto industry standard high volume servers, switched and storage, located in NFVI-PoPs – such consolidation of hardware is expected to reduce the total cost of ownership. Flexible allocation of Network Functions on such hardware resource pool could highly improve network usage efficiency in a day-to-day network operation. This also helps to accommodate increased demand for particular services like voice without fully relying on the call restriction control mechanisms in a large-scale natural disaster scenario.

As mobile networks have evolved from 2G to 4G, they’ve also grown in size and complexity with more network elements, more vendors, and more protocols to manage. HPE provides a smarter path to network transformation by adding scale and new capabilities while reducing complexity and cost. With vEPC solution based on HPE’s NFV Solutions leveraging the NFV infrastructure, VIM software, orchestration and SDN capabilities, , mobile network operators can quickly build out their networks using a single, virtualized, cloud-based, and feature-rich high-performance platform.

 

Possible advantages of the virtualization of mobile core network would include the following:

  • Improved network usage efficiency due to flexible allocation of different Network Functions on such hardware resource pool.
  • Higher service availability and resiliency provided to end users/customers by dynamic network reconfigurations inherent to virtualization technology.
  • Elasticity: Capacity dedicated to each Network function can be dynamically modified according to actual load on the network, this increasingly scalability.
  • Topology reconfiguration: Network topology can be dynamically reconfigured to optimize performances.

 

Evolved Packet Core (EPC) performs essential functions including subscriber tracking, mobility management and session management. By virtue of its role in managing users' connectivity to services, the EPC can also play an important role in network monetization, especially when used in conjunction with policy and other traffic management techniques. This aspect of the mobile packet core moves it from being a cost center to an enabler of higher-revenue, higher-margin services.

A virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) solution automates the authentication and management of subscribers and the services they access, as well as the creation of and connectivity to services within the operator’s network and to the wider Internet on a massive scale, with the quality and performance subscribers demand. HPE’s vEPC leverages a software base that has been proven in the networks of the world’s largest mobile network operators.

 

To leverage cloud competences the functional software must be on-boarded, managed, orchestrated and optimized within the cloud network. HPE uses its NFV Systems platform to onboard and manage its virtualized applications. HPE NFV Systems has been expanded to support greater network control, broader open industry standard technologies, and virtualized network functions. It integrates the Virtual Infrastructure manager – Helion Carrier Grade & HPE ContexNet – a software defined networking solutions from HPE which deliver highly automated, programmable and responsive networks in support of IT and telecommunications applications for the cloud epoch. Finally the solution includes a single orchestration engine based upon HPE NFV Director to deploy/manage the complete life-cycle of vEPC functions and bring together the assurance and fulfillment capabilities that our Communications Service Provider (CSP) customers are seeking.

 

HPE is currently conducting field trials with multiple CSP’s, operators and the following use-cases / scenario are being showcased:

  • vEPC VNF Instantiation and Termination
  • vEPC VNF Lifecycle Management using NFV Director
  • E2E service with Service Chaining
  • vEPC VM auto scaling based on resource in SR-IOV network.
  • Reliability (Host level and VM level)
  • Flexible Service Chaining Policy Definition

 

In these POC’s that we rolled out, HPE was successfully able to demonstrate scalable system based on different workloads and network traffic load migration by moving control and data traffic from one target system to another target system. For the POCs that are churned out, HPE will use its proven architecture, solutions based on ETSI NFV Architecture that is optimized for Telco applications, which act as primary hardware platforms. Additionally HPE Application partners, who provide vEPC functions had provided their virtual EPC application components including MME, SGW, and PGW functions with HPE providing HSS functions for these field trails. All these vEPC functionality were demonstrated on HPE NFV Systems

 

Many mobile core functions have been identified as good candidates for virtualization, and it is not unrealistic to think that an entire mobile core could be fully virtualized and operate at close to parity in performance and feature terms with traditional core network within next few years. Feature parity could be achieved in a squatter time frame, and on a "good enough" feature set even sooner.

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Virtualized Mobile Core solutions provide a complete, consolidated Evolved Packet Core (EPC) solution that runs together on a single, virtual hardware instance for better performance, scalability, and cost. The vEPC solution features fully-virtualized instances of each key Mobile Core function, including:

  • 3GPP-compliant Serving GRPS Support Node (SGSN) and Mobile Entity Management (MME) functions to support large-scale network services for 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, and VoLTE;
  • 3GPP-compliant Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), Serving Gateway (SGW), and PDN Gateway (PGW) functions with broad protocol support for external networks;
  • Service Workflow Orchestration that enables operators to create and launch customized multi-service offerings in days (and not months);
  • WiFi Access: Evolved Packet Data Gateway (ePDG) and Trusted WLAN Access Point/Gateway (TWAP/TWAG) functions for secure access to trusted and untrusted WiFi networks, including support for WiFi calling services, and EPC to WiFi integration (also known as “Heterogeneous Networks” or “Het Nets”);
  • Policy Control (PCRF), Online Charging System (OCS), and Policy Control Enforcement Function (PCEF) that feature dynamic policy enforcement, real-time charging, and a multitude of revenue-generating services.

 

By consolidating multiple network functions on a single platform, Virtualized Mobile Core solutions can operate more efficiently by performing tasks, such as deep packet inspection and metadata collection, only once in the network and sharing the results across the network.

Service chaining across multiple network functions, policies, and services creates the opportunity for unique value-added services in the network. Some of the unique services that HPE’s Mobile Core solutions support include: video and web optimization, Carrier Grade NAT, Per-subscriber firewall support, and content filtering.

Mobile Core solutions feature optional WiFi gateway functions that allow virtualized operators to extend their network’s reach through secure access to trusted and untrusted WiFi networks. This can help operators to reduce network costs (through WiFi offloading of mobile traffic), extend their network reach and coverage options in addition to cellular, and offer cost-competitive solutions to their subscribers, such as WiFi calling and WiFi roaming.

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Before deploying Contexteam

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After deploying of Contexteam

Furthermore, Virtualized Mobile Core solutions can also feature the capabilities of an SDN enabled virtual EPC gateway that splits the control and user plane of the Serving and Packet Gateway elements. The user plane implementation is based on a programmable SDN fabric from Contextream that interfaces with EPC Gateway VNFs through an API. By splitting the gateway in this manner it is possible to scale these components of the EPC independently and it also enables a range of deployment options. The SDN fabric that is used in these PoCs can be deployed in a distributed fashion and supports a very high number of rules that can be manipulated at a considerably high OpenFlow transaction rate without loss of throughput. By extending this switch fabric and OpenFlow to support GTP and deploying it at both edge and central locations it is possible to implement a next gen 3GPP standards compliant EPC gateway that can selectively break out traffic as needed. The PoCs also demonstrated that the traffic flows associated with an endpoint that can be serviced from a CDN node can be identified and delivered closer to the edge while all the other traffic for the same endpoint is served from a centralized Gi facility. The flows are anchored independently and can be handled without loss of fundamental mobile network capabilities like handover.

 

We at Hewlett Packard Enterprise have the unique advantage of our well established leadership in the telco-cloud domain and a long history of telecom experience to be a trusted partner to our CSP customers as they embark on this transformation to the Telco Cloud. We look forward to embarking on this exciting journey! For more information on how HPE is providing an integrated NFV platform, please refer to HPE’s NFV offerings.

 

Learn more at our HPE OpenNFV website, and follow us on Twitter at @HPE_NFV and @HPE_CSP.

 

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