And what does this imply about the architecture of networks at the mobile edge?
Central Offices Become Data Centers
To create a low latency, high bandwidth environment that can accelerate 5G-capable services and applications, mobile operators are putting IT and cloud computing intelligence into the Radio Access Network (RAN). This allows services to be applied more quickly and intelligently, closer to the devices, users, and things that leverage them.
As the data centers move closer to RAN (Figure 2), the advantages of mobile edge computing kick in: congestion is reduced and applications perform better.
Figure 2: Importance of Data Center in the 5G World (Source: Intel)
For example, vertical applications such as those connecting vehicles, or requiring real-time interactions (such as augmented reality) benefit from the low latency and improved bandwidth that results from closer proximity to subscribers. And in order to support these and other emerging applications, disparate traffic types need to be analyzed, categorized, and processed accordingly.
Steering Traffic to Relevant Analytics
As operators chart the course to 5G and migrate to software-based, virtualized network infrastructures, their visibility and analytics infrastructure must follow suit. This is where network packet brokers (NPBs) become critical infrastructure. The ability to reduce the load on the Big Data architecture is critical, and NPB’s play a critical role in filtering out the “noise” from network traffic and sending the most relevant metadata to the Big Data layers.
Gartner points out that “network bandwidth and capabilities continue to grow faster than processing and storage technologies. NPBs help solve this problem by massaging data before handing it off to tools, and these mediators are becoming critical to build-out and upgrade projects.”
A sample of the decisions that need to be made in order to properly handle these traffic flows include:
Are subscribers being treated fairly and according to their service level agreements?
Are the locations of all subscribers and other connected entities correctly identified?
Are subscribers and connected entities associated with the right cell towers?
Is all traffic secure and free from intrusion or DDoS attacks?
Is video and voice being handled properly, whether the requirements are real-time or asynchronous?
Brocade’s Session Director: In Production Today
Brocade’s Packet Broker Architecture (Figure 3) is in use today in numerous Tier 1 service providers in every theatre. In addition to the packet brokering technology itself, the solution is anchored in the Session Director, which includes a Visibility Manager and software-defined session intelligence for scalable, on-demand mobile network visibility.
Figure 3: Brocade Packet Broker Architecture
This architecture supports legacy as well as emerging 4G and 5G mobile networks, providing traffic aggregation and replication at scale. A large number of analytics tools make flow requests via APIs in real-time and receive the flows they require on-demand (in under 1 millisecond).
To achieve the scale and performance needed for 5G and IoT, Brocade has continued on the path of innovation to disaggregate the hardware packet broker by introducing a virtualized packet broker supported by all SLX and MLX platforms.
As operators chart the course to 5G and migrate to software-based, virtualized network infrastructures, their visibility infrastructure needs to follow suit. To find out more, contact your Brocade representative and/or check out the links below.