|Topic:||Converged infrastructure – must have…or nice to have?|
|Title:||Associate Vice President, Solutions Marketing, Network Solutions Division (NSD)|
Yoav Valadarsky is the Associate Vice President for Solutions Marketing at ECI Telecom’s Network Solutions Division (NSD – As such he is responsible for defining ECI’s strategic solutions for the mobile industry. Mr Valadarsky has more than 20 years of experience in a variety of development and marketing positions in various global telecom companies, and has long worked closely with operators worldwide. Mr Valadarsky is the inventor of several telecommunications-related patents. Yoav Valadarsky holds MSc.and BSc. degrees in Computer Science from the Technion in Israel where he graduated with honours.
Throughout the world, mobile broadband is driving the need for network structures that constantly evolve to handle new customers, greater traffic and new applications. The challenge of next generation wireless backhaul is not just technical; today’s business models require converged infrastructures. As operators and service providers move to converged networks, they must carefully consider their approach to this transition; there are no simple, turnkey, global solutions – the key to a cost-effective migration is in tailoring the approach specifically to their network.
In just one short decade, the use, demand and application of broadband technology has exploded, connecting people and businesses around the world so quickly and seamlessly that it is easy to forget that there are millions of people who still fondly remember when letters, memos and expensive, lagging phone calls were the only options available to communicate. Broadband, whether fixed or mobile, has become a critical element of daily life in many markets where accessibility, speed and connectivity are no longer just desired, but expected. With broadband helping redefine connectivity in all global markets, next generation networks are playing a more critical role than ever before. By offering broadband services, operators around the world have a chance to expand their product offering and to tap into new revenue sources, from both new and existing customers. When it comes to the deployment of next generation networks to support the next wave of broadband services, it is increasingly apparent that the challenge of next generation backhaul goes beyond capacity and bandwidth and into the heart of the business model, making converged infrastructures no longer an option, but a necessity. ‘Must haves’ for the next generation The surge in broadband usage means operators need to contend with greatly increased backhaul traffic on their network infrastructures. Moving to a packet-based network infrastructure lets them scale up their capacity while lowering the cost per bit. However, service providers who plan to deliver advanced services as 4G/LTE are finding that it’s not a matter of simply adding more bandwidth, cell sites or capacity on the network. The economics and challenges presented by future, bandwidth-intensive technologies require a re-evaluation of the business model and its implications on the infrastructure. In developing regions such as Africa, where mobile infrastructures are expanding rapidly to support additional services, the focus is on finding cost-effective ways to manage mobile traffic growth while preserving voice service quality and protecting their legacy network revenues. In regions such as Europe, the move to packet-based converged infrastructure is more likely to be driven by a fixed line infrastructure that must evolve to support multi-play services. In Europe, the goals are to capitalize on portfolio expansion opportunities and build a single infrastructure designed for optimal transport of both fixed and mobile services. In both cases, mobile broadband and mobile backhaul are playing a key role driving the shift to next generation, converged, packet-based infrastructures. The many faces of convergence Convergence goes beyond technology and has many faces. While the demands of competition, customers and technology all provide strong incentives, there are additional considerations, of which infrastructure sharing, applications and network management are notable. For each of these three, a tailored approach in adopting a converged network build out will allow operators to create a synergistic balance of opportunity, cost management and bottom line returns. Infrastructure sharing is one way to leverage the expanded capabilities of the new network; this can offset the significant costs associated with the roll out of new infrastructure. Additionally, by lowering the number of cell sites, infrastructure-sharing also provides environmental benefits that resonate with corporate, local and customer values. The choices between building and leasing are changing. Many operators will continue to lease, and those that decide to build their own infrastructure will most likely need to lease it to other players to justify their network build out investment. When deciding to build, operators must carefully evaluate their own network needs as well as the diverse needs of the service providers that are likely to lease the new infrastructure from them. The same is true for the applications. As operators expand to offer new services it is not only for voice calls, but also for providing additional services such as Internet connection, video streams and online gaming. The operators will need to keep their core business customers happy while adding new residential and business customers – and this requires robust network access, speed and bandwidth. The explosion and continued growth of integrated, high-bandwidth applications, supports the need to build a unified, packet-based, infrastructure rather than a number of separate, application-specific, networks. Last but certainly not least, are the network management aspects. Each network is unique in its demands, needs and technology mix, and each network requires careful planning of its management support systems. To fully realise the benefits of a converged infrastructure, operators need a single unified system that can handle the network management functions for all the technologies (TDM, packet, Optics, Microwave) involved. Converged and cost effective A packet-based converged infrastructure is no longer just nice to have but something operators must have. Convergence, however, goes beyond the product level, so it is difficult to decide upon the most cost-effective way to achieve it. Since no two networks are alike, the best migration path to a converged packet-based infrastructure will differ greatly from one operator to another. Even within the same network, different sites will often have different requirements, different options and different migration paths to follow. Migration considerations include: • existing infrastructure; • business plan; • competition; • availability and cost of alternatives; • projected growth rate; • services – revenue split; • access to capital; and • TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). There are no simple, turnkey, global solutions that will meet all an operator’s needs and requirements. The planning for a converged, packet-based, infrastructure mandates a pragmatic approach that considers the total cost of ownership, leverages the service provider’s existing assets and is tailored to meet their specific business goals and timeline. Convergence is the key both to the network infrastructure, and to the network build out plan itself. Operators should seek a partner that is willing to tailor an approach that operates at the critical, converged, juncture between products and the operator’s business success. It is important to note that converged infrastructure is neither a technological hype nor something driven by technology, but rather a business goal. As such, the path to get there should be determined by the bottom line. Although the criteria and needs for a converged infrastructure will vary from region to region, the benefits of scalability and ROI are universal given the global shift to mobile broadband. Throughout the world, mobile broadband is driving the need for a network structure that constantly evolves to sustain, support and enhance the connections it creates. Whether in developed regions where mobile connections are expanding daily with new applications and demands, or in emerging markets where mobile broadband is growing exponentially as it creates new connections and access, when it comes to the deployment of next generation wireless networks, it is increasingly apparent that a new set of criteria is required. The challenges that next generation wireless backhaul creates go beyond capacity and bandwidth issues and into the heart of the business model, making converged infrastructures no longer an option, but a necessity. As global network operators and service providers accept the inevitable and move to a converged network, they must carefully consider their approach to this transition; the key to a cost-effective migration is in tailoring the approach specifically to their network.