Telecoms at the Edge of Tomorrow

I have said many times in the past, that the mobile broadband network of the future will be a giant, distributed Super-Computer (a label that was shamelessly stolen, but as Picasso says: good artists copy, great artists steal!).  Plug in the radios, Super-Size the system solution to telecom grade, and voila, we have the mobile broadband network of tomorrow.  The network core intelligence is x86 inside, though exceptions made for high-performance core routers.  With the distributed Super-Computer, operators have more choices for network architecture.  Virtualize it with SDN/NFV to scale up and down, and the Web Scale business model is available to all operators regardless of size. 

Vendors push computing to the edge of the network as they step up to meet the operators’ performance needs.  The IoT / M2M / Sensor market has long understood the need for data processing at the edge by aggregating and reducing data traffic with gateway boxes before forwarding data to the final destination.  Unlike the quantified world of the sensor ecosystem, the mobile broadband ecosystem focuses on high data rate, capacity, and low latency and the needs for edge computing differ.  The vendor responses to these challenges are to move the core networking elements out of the national data centers into smaller regional and local data centers.  This trend will only increase as markets evolve toward 5G networks.  

Nokia launched its Airframe Data Center (Nokia Networks enters cloud infrastructure market) as its transformational solution.  In its architecture, Nokia delivers hardware acceleration in an SDN/NFV friendly way, and provides for the convergence of Telco and IT Clouds in the same platform, which will increase the overall business performance.  Anxious operators looking at SDN/NFV should explore the early convergence of Telco and IT with this approach.     

The impacts to network architecture include:

  • Converged Telco and IT
  • Distributed and centralized data centers
  • Purpose built hardware
  • Transparent acceleration and off-loading
  • Protection from lock-in

At the Network Edge of Tomorrow for the all-IP Telecom, Nokia is an early mover with distributed edge computing via its RACS Server and Liquid Apps.  With the AirFrame Data Centers, Nokia throws down the gauntlet, and competing infrastructure vendors must step up to the challenge.  

For a deeper dive into the implications of Distributed Data Centers and the convergence of IT and Telco, see Nokia’s Distributed Super-computer: The AirFrame Data Center (subscription required). 


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