The future foundations of network architecture
Telecoms architecture is designed to support the delivery of products to a network operator, supporting business interfaces between operators and making it possible to purchase equipment from different suppliers.
Yet this is changing, and rapidly. New technologies, such as virtualization and SDN, are shaping the future of network architecture, allowing traditional structures to be broken down into customizable elements that provide just the right level of connectivity. This will extend the network architecture model across different industries – from the way we manufacture goods, to the way we access media and entertainment.
The reality of virtualization
The cloud is distributed across the entire topology, enabling functionality and data to be processed and stored where it is best suited.
Added to this, the architecture itself supports network slicing, which allows networks to be logically separated. Each slice provides customized connectivity, and all slices run on the same, shared infrastructure.
It is virtualization and SDN that make network slicing possible in the first place, although there are several challenges to overcome first:
Subsequently, a traditional approach is no longer an option, and we've been busy building an industry blueprint to future-proof network architecture.
Different traffic types to be supported by the network architecture
Providing various types of functionality across different physical locations, the global architecture model features:
- Application cloud for supporting external applications, utilizing the cloud infrastructure for execution and storage
- Management and monetization for running the network itself and supporting customers
- Access, mobility and network applications for securing fixed and mobile access, as well as network-integrated applications like telephony and messaging
- Cloud infrastructure for secure processing and storage of network functionality and applications
- Transport for transmitting data between sites and within sites
- Devices/local networks, as setup by a user or enterprise outside the control of the operator
- Access sites, which are as close as possible to the users
- Distributed sites for execution or transport efficiency, or for local breakout
- National sites that are centralized within an operator's network
- Global sites, which are publicly accessible from anywhere – typically a large data center
This diagram illustrates two different instances of the architecture being run by different cooperating operators.
The architecture supports various types of business interfaces:
- Service exposure of network capabilities to application cloud
- Network access and transport for devices and local networks
- Roaming and interconnect between operators