Cisco has announced the release of its new broadband router, a containerized, software-based version of traditional converged cable access platform hardware. It is composed of sets of microservices that were created using standard, open source tools such as Docker for operating and deploying the containerized applications and Kubernetes for container orchestration.
The Cloud-Native Broadband router features open standards-based modular software for agile feature development and deployment and offers users the potential to quickly launch new services while ensuring the efficient utilization of resources.
Cisco’s new broadband router is evidence that the networking giant is moving beyond its roots as a hardware vending company and making a play in the software sector. Large web-scale providers, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, have pioneered cloud native using continuous integration, orchestration, automation, microservices and containers.
Previously, there were a couple of methods used to achieve the virtualization of Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) systems. Referred to as “lift and shift”, the primary approach requires vendors to take the CCAP system code and deploy them on virtual machines that run on server technology. Although this kind of implementation is fairly easy for vendors and has some advantages, one of its drawbacks is the inability to leverage some of the benefits offered by software architectures, languages and frameworks.
This approach, which is simply the migration of a code base (that was developed using languages and legacy tools) to virtual machine environments, results in previous challenges faced in lifecycle management. There is no reduction in the amount of effort needed to scale, deploy and test. More often than not, the result is a greater level of performance challenges and complexity.
By enabling the converged cable access platform to function using data-centric servers, the ability to scale is improved. Also, it’s possible to carry out capacity expansions incrementally as opposed to larger CCAP hardware, resulting in more efficient utilization of cooling, power and space.
Conventional CCAP hardware merged dense edge QAMs and the functions of cable modem termination systems (CMTS) into a single platform to improve redundancy across converged services platforms, lower power and energy consumption and reduce rack space.
Cloud-Native takes these concepts and enhances them by using software to shift CCAP and CMTS functions into the cloud, thus minimizing the requirements for onsite maintenance, cooling, power and space. It transforms network operations by offering real-time remediation, analysis and monitoring capabilities.
With Cloud-Native, carriers are able to split disaggregated systems into smaller, independent and scalable microservice functions. The new router is composed of numerous services that are flexible, resilient and elastic enough to support multi-cloud architectures.
Reinventing the cBR-8, its revenue-generating hardware-based solution, was a tough one for Cisco, and it’s remarkable that Cisco was willing to disrupt itself and commit the volume of resources needed to deliver what the market needs.
The following are some of the benefits of Cisco’s new cloud-native broadband router:
Previously, a new software release forced operators to regress hundreds, if not thousands, of test cases. With the advent of Cisco’s new router and the containerization of services, things have become much easier since only the modified function needs to be retested. This shortens the product cycle, substantially increasing service velocity and allowing for continuous iteration … all of which puts cable operators on the same level with web-scalers that innovate at internet speeds.
Since Cisco’s new broadband router is software-based, operators can increase capacity as needed rather than commit to a larger-than-needed capacity before demand materializes. Also, Cisco’s Infinite Broadband Unlocked enables vendors to share risks with operators. Instead of an upfront payment, vendors are paid based on the success of the operator.
Automation and Agile Feature Development
Built with open APIs, the new broadband router enables the creation of self-service tools such as self-help and auto-provisioning. It also features open standards-based modular software for agile feature development and deployment.
When it comes to power consumption and real-estate, cloud-based solutions are much more efficient. They don’t require specialized hardware and, as such, are much easier to operate and maintain.
For cable operators who have to deal with the ever-fluctuating nature of subscriber needs and expectations as well as an increasingly competitive market, a cloud-based CCAP solution such as Cisco’s new broadband router is definitely the solution.