Software-defined networking (SDN) refers to separating the data forwarding and control planes of a network so that all the routing decisions on the network are performed by an SDN controller. Simplified and commodified network routers simply forward packets to the specified port. This greatly simplifies overall network management and allows you to dynamically change network design with just a few configuration options or lines of code in the controller. OpenFlow is the current standard for communication between network elements and the controller.
Another disruptive innovation is network function virtualization (NFV). Applications running in a cloud replace traditional network hardware elements such as firewalls, VPN routers, or SBCs. Even equipment installed on the end-user’s premises can be replaced with a combination of a simple access router and virtual CPE app running in a cloud. This allows dynamic allocation of resources (e.g. launching more firewall apps during business hours, when corporate customers are active) and extremely fast deployment of new versions or types of NFV appliances. Needless to say, SDN is the prerequisite for this, since otherwise it is impossible to efficiently manage all the traffic flows between customers, dynamically allocated NFC appliances and the outside world.
While traditional networks could survive for a few more years, there is now an Internet-of-Things (IoT) which exponentially increases the amount of connected devices. Moreover, the capability for configuring and troubleshooting devices themselves is very limited. An intelligent network with centralized management is required.
All of this allows a software telco to emerge. This telco does not really own the physical network infrastructure; it rents a data-forwarding capacity, where necessary, and utilizes a cloud to run its collection of NFV appliances and applications. So now the only defining characteristic of a telco is the array of services it can offer (defined by NFV appliances) and its customers’ data and ability to provision the service (so that every customer gets what he needs).
And so B/OSS, which contains customer data and information about subscriptions to the service and provisions this data to the network (SDN controller, NFV appliances, etc.), becomes the most important resource a telco has – its heart and soul!
PortaBilling makes this happen. It can store and manage millions of subscriber records, with detailed product and service configurations for each of them. It can provision data to network elements such as ONOS or OpenDaylight SDN controllers and individual NFVs. It can gather charging events information from the network and bill your customers to ensure a constant revenue steam.
How does it work?
- The telco launches an SDN with centralized SDN controller(s). A collection of NFV appliances (and, optionally, virtual CPEs) is launched in the cloud.
- Products and services are defined in PortaBilling.
- Customers sign up (using a traditional web portal, mobile app, etc.) and are allocated the desired product combination in PortaBilling.
- The subscriber configuration is delivered to the SDN controller and NFV appliances. For example, the controller knows that all incoming/outgoing traffic should be forwarded to a firewall + bandwidth control NFV appliance, and the NFV appliance knows that this customer has “parental protection” on and a maximum bandwidth of 2Mbps.
- The customer plugs in the access router and starts using the service.
- If the customer subsequently buys an additional product (e.g. voice service), new configuration settings (e.g. QoS configuration for VoIP traffic) are automatically delivered to the network.
- When a new version of the firewall NFV appliance is released, routing on the SDN controller is simply changed to send packets to the new cloud process. No more risky on-premises firmware updates!
- PortaBilling produces invoices and enables customers to adjust the service configuration, sign up for new services, pay bills, and so on.
- Choose your own cloud infrastructure
- Integration with various SDN controllers
- Automated service provisioning
- Easy network component upgrades
- Easily expandable service portfolio via NFV apps
- Full self-management of the service
- Online payments and top-ups
- Consolidated bill for all services
- Default full data redundancy
- Clustered components for high availability
- Ultimate availability (99.999%) with Oracle RAC
- Site redundancy and zero-downtime updates
- Near-zero CAPEX for deploying new services
- Drastic reduction of OPEX
- Bundle additional services (voice, IPTV, etc.)
- Monetize IoT
- Unlimited scalability with no per-user or per-feature costs
- Open platform that is quickly and easily expandable
- Minimum administrative effort
- Multiple currencies and markets
- Distributors, resellers, white-label operators
- Usage/payment-based commissions
- Cross-service promotions and discounts
- High availability
- SDN controller integration
- NFV appliance provisioning
- Real-time charging
- Recurring charges
- VAS charging
- Customer self-care portal
- Webservices API
SDN / NFV
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