Innovations of Communication Technology in the Age of Digital Transformation
- Atlas Phones Blog
- 19 Apr, 2019
Organizations are rethinking the role of traditional network structures. In the age of digital transformation, we tend to overlook the changes happening within the infrastructure of communication. IP routing will continue to be important as networks undergo a transformation, markets are looking for ways to revolutionize and improve it.
The newest network applications, such as 5G networks, require faster innovation cycles. This can be limited by traditional network structures, that do not allow for flexibility, making innovation much more costly and complex than necessary. This is especially true for IP routers based on closed, Chassis hardware units, that do not allow for innovation based on their structure. In order to become more innovative and to allow networks to adapt to newer applications, the disaggregation of the software and hardware components for networks would open doors to easier upgrading and adaption to the current needs of the market.
A recent example of this was one carrier network’s disaggregation of optical transport systems to Open Line Systems (OLS) and open transponders/muxponders. Another example is the disaggregation of network functions such as firewalls or broadband network gateways and the mobile core into software-based virtual network functions (VNFs) while running on hardware powered by CPU’s. Disaggregation has become an appropriate response when adapting to the current state of the industry looking to incorporate newer, faster applications.
Disaggregation, however, would be a threat to the businesses of leading router vendors. Routers have largely relied on the open network trend until now. As the router industry matures, merchant silicon and open source software have made the disaggregation of routers possible as well. This high-performance silicon is already widely used by router vendors in many of their traditional router lines. This type of innovation would be dependent on a single vendor and would prevent network operators from charging varying rates for software and hardware innovations separately.
Disaggregated routing separates the router’s hardware and software. The hardware would become a white box based on merchant silicon, and the software would become a Network Operators System (NOS). These two components would now come from different vendors and would need to adapt their compatibility. The software would need to combine the white box to load the NOS, with ONIE, to become de facto standard. The hardware would need to run on the specific merchant silicon in the white box.
Disaggregation provides many benefits from reduced vendor lock-in, more choice in options, faster innovation and cost-effective scaling. First, for traditional router systems, operators had to choose a bundle of both hardware and software, that they would be locked in for the duration of its network life cycle. Disaggregation has the potential to increase price competition, as well as reduce vendor-lock in. Disaggregation also allows for more choices when it comes to mixing and matching the best hardware and software for its intended use. Not all white boxes or NOS are the same, and disaggregation allows for the flexibility of choice when it comes to the requirements and needs for any particular user.
The inclusion of faster innovation cycles is another benefit of disaggregation, where innovation is not constricted to a single vendor. Smaller vendors will now have the ability to compete with larger ones and bringing new innovations to the table with them. Lastly, Disaggregated routing avoids having to choose between devices to meet initial requirements, but can adapt and scale to meet future requirements. This is made possible by incorporating a single white box that can be expanded with additions to meet capacity requirements.
In the age of digital transformation, 5G is encouraging transport networks to upgrade. IP routing will still play a vital role due to its ability to be scaled, its flexibility and its operational simplicity. Disaggregation of traditional architectures reduces vendor lock-in, allows for competitive pricing and choices, as well as faster innovation and cost-effective scaling.