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Virtualization of Mobile Networks Sets the Stage for 5G and IoT

By Nick Tausanovitch | Jan 03, 2017

2017 will be the year that virtualization of mobile networks moves from concept to reality. The benefit of using a cloud-based model to implement network functions, also known as network functions virtualization (NFV), has already been broadly accepted by telecom service providers as a key goal. In fact, the cloudification of mobile networks is a foundational underpinning and key architectural paradigm for 5G and IoT networks and is required to implement functions such as dynamic network slicing, for example.

Deployment of NFV by telecom service providers in 2017 will result in reduced cost of network infrastructure, more rapid service deployment, and dynamic scalability of services. In addition, many service providers will begin to expand their business offerings to include private and public cloud services using the same efficient and common infrastructure. As a result, many of the solutions developed and validated for NFV, such as acceleration and offload of server-based virtual switching for example, will find their way back into cloud service provider and enterprise cloud applications, due to the same clear benefits.

Another area that will see a lot of attention is maximizing operational efficiency. Heterogeneous data centers (where there are many different compute node configurations to handle different workloads) are a headache for operators, and result in increased operational complexity while mitigating the ability to freely place and optimize workloads. Homogeneous compute node infrastructures will become an attractive alternative, where all compute nodes are equipped with acceleration embedded in the server on a new generation of SmartNICs, at minimal incremental cost and power levels. This will remove restrictions on workload placement and greatly simplify orchestration, as well as the underlying network infrastructure.

The service provider community learned a lot from the cloud movement and has taken things to the next level to solve some tough problems. In 2017, as we see these solutions come to fruition, we should begin to see the benefits coming back to IT and public cloud communities and further rounds of cross-pollination.