Vodafone is bringing cost-effective and compelling virtualization SD-WAN uCPE to help its smaller clients become agile digital businesses.
Vodafone completed a Proof of Concept (POC) uCPE trial lead by Telco Systems and supported by partners Arm and NXP Semiconductor. The new uCPE tested supports multiple enterprise services such as SD-WAN, routing and firewall, combining reliable standard CPE functions with the ability to add or remove services using the Telco Systems NFVTime hybrid virtualization and container uCPE platform. The solutions were tested on multiple Arm Neoverse-based processors, designed by NXP Semiconductor.
The uCPE was tested by Vodafone Group labs in the UK for both small/medium business and enterprise use-cases and ever-changing demand scenarios. The POC achieved an industry-first fully orchestrated mix of container and virtual machine-based network functions running on the same low-carbon footprint Arm/NXP Semiconductor processors in different form factors (4- and 8-core).
Telco Systems is challenging the dynamics of SD-WAN uCPE with the abstraction of any hardware from software and containerized services running on top. Services can be dynamically modified leveraging the Telco Systems NFVTime operating and management system.
In the trial, Vodafone deployed and managed Cloud-native Network Functions (CNFs) and Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) application deployments on a 35 Watt system based on a 4-core Arm Cortex-A72 processor and an 8-core Arm processor. 15 Gbps throughput of typical Internet-mix (IMIX) traffic was achieved via NFVTime offloading Open vSwitch traffic to hardware acceleration blocks.
NXP Layerscape processors include hardware acceleration blocks with the right balance of Arm core counts for the lower-end SME segment, creating a substantial reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Strong market traction worldwide for SD-WAN is driving evolution and change in the requirements and characteristics of Universal CPE (uCPE) technologies. Several very large vendors dominate the enterprise CPE segment, including for example Cisco, Juniper, and Nokia-Nuage Networks, and other SD-WAN solution vendors such as Versa Networks, Silver Peak, and Fortinet offer proprietary CPE.
Vendor lock-in for black box products placed at the customer premise is counter-intuitive to the software-defined, open-standard-based, and agile principles that SD-WAN promises to deliver. Vendor black box products add overhead and cost, restrict flexibility of services, and add other operational burdens for both service providers and their enterprise clients. On the other side of the coin, propriety devices can offer considerable device intelligence and embedded security features, therefore specific uCPE application, use-cases, and market segments, all come into play before IT managers and managed service providers choose from the available white/black-box options.
The Arm-based uCPE devices in the Vodafone POC demonstrated relatively low power consumption compared with the traditional x86 processor-based uCPE. Arm processors also offer an attractive price vs. performance ratio, and allow the inclusion of various chipset vendors to take advantage of their specific differentiators such as NXP Semiconductor’s OVS offload feature. Adjusting these factors and mixing such features results in good performance on a lower overall hardware footprint, cost-base and power consumption. The trial pushes new possibilities for mass market implementations, and healthy technology competition compared with the market scenario of a small selection of elite hardware vendors.
The successful Vodafone POC with Arm, NXP, and Telco Systems, pushes the boundaries of uCPE device suitability to a small-to-medium sized market segment with a number of unique and compelling factors that the enterprise should be eager to embrace: