First off, everyone at Iricent would like to wish all of our customers, partners and site visitors a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
This is our first post of 2023 and while originally planned as a recap of the main topics and thoughts from the recent Layer123 event in London, it also conveniently covers some of what we believe will be the main topics to watch as the year progresses.
SD-WAN, SASE, SSE and ZTNA
While SD-WAN, SASE, SSE and ZTNA were declared by a keynote speaker to be hot, growing and in high-demand (all of which we agree with) there was little further coverage of these topics at the event other than re-emphasising that the previously quite separate Network and Security spheres along with associated enabling products (SD-WAN, NaaS, FWaaS, SWG, ZTNA, CASB, etc.) are combining under the SASE umbrella.
(For some additional detail on SD-WAN and SASE progress, see our recent post from the similarly named congress in Paris last November here).
SD-LAN and another SDN Controller
SD-LAN or Software-Defined Local Area Network (a combination of SDN & SD-WAN technologies) was, however, declared to be a use case coming to the fore. Bringing the benefits of software-defined networking to local wired and wireless access networks, SD-LAN is the fastest growing segment of managed services with one presenter claiming the SD-LAN TAM to be almost six times that of SD-WAN.
On a related topic ETSI provided details of yet another SDN Controller – TeraFlowSDN declaring its use cases to include bringing network automation to transport as well as inter-domain, network security and B5G (Beyond 5G) orchestration.
Edge Computing received considerable attention due to the huge shift from the cloud to the edge. One commentator declared “Straight to Cloud – a bad idea”. With the explosion of IoT devices, etc., and because the Cloud was not designed to process data of this scale a new solution is required. Hence the rise of virtualized Edge CPE or uCPE delivering access control, low latency, ZTP, lower carbon impact along with the ability to meet FINOPS / GDPR requirements by keeping sensitive data at the Edge whilst pre-processing data near its source and sending only anonymised pertinent data to the Cloud.
NaaS (Network as a Service)
NaaS was a common topic with the consensus being that to unlock NaaS enterprise revenue by making it faster and simpler to deliver products and offers to customers, CSPs need to expose their network capabilities as services and manage these during the complete life cycle within the network, taking advantage of cloud, closed-loop and automated processes. In doing so they expose the network for business by making it accessible via APIs.
Trends and foundations for 5G success was also a common theme with particular focus on Mobile Private Network (MPN) or Private Enterprise Networks , Fixed Wireless Access and vRAN / O-RAN.
One contributor described, as he put it in layman’s terms, a mobile private network (MPN) as a glorified Wi-Fi that uses cellular to provide better coverage, resilience and reliability than Wi-Fi based networks. Declaring that the private wireless journey has begun with cloud-based infrastructure as the path, one contributor’s perhaps somewhat overblown expectation for private wireless described it as the future of enterprise connectivity. MPN use-cases put forward included:-
- Critical Comms (Blue Light, PTT, Safety) – an alternative to PMR, Tetra, etc.,
- Indoor / Neutral Host – an alternative to traditional in-building wireless, e.g. DAS
- Industrial / IOT supporting AGVs, Robots, Computer Vision, AR/VR, Sensors, etc. – an alternative to Fibre / WiFi.
Fixed Wireless Access was described as a real broadband transport alternative with advantages including fast / cost effective deployment, secure extension of private IP networks to remote sites, augmentation and fallback for wireline and fibre optic broadband services whilst leveraging existing mobile network infrastructure.
Network Automation was the subject of many inputs with numerous references to Autonomous Networking (AN). The goal of AN is to identify and correct autonomously in real time network issues causing degradation in the quality of experience perceived by end users. One contributor posed the question: What is a ‘Realistic’ Roadmap for AN and using TM Forum nomenclature then went on to answer as follows:
0 – Manual Management – Only for very Old Legacy and Exceptions – Past
1 – Assisted Management – Traditional Network Operations Centre- NoC with Operator Scripts and multiple screens – Still widely used in 2022
2 – Partial Autonomous Networks – Automation of Routine Well Defined Tasks – Most Common in 2022
3 – Conditional (Adjusts to Environment) Autonomous Networks – Could become widespread by 2024
4- Highly Autonomous Networks – Automates a broad range of stable and fluctuating network capabilities – Gaining significant traction by 2025
5 – Full Autonomous\’Closed Loop\’Multi- service, Multi-Domain Networks – Ultimate dream of AN running\’Closed Loop\’ as a Black Box everywhere. – Becoming feasible for select problems outside Lab by 2027
New Service and Revenue Opportunities
A number of contributions covered new service opportunities.
On-Demand Supply Chains
On-demand supply chains for digital telecom products. Digital supply chains that use open standard APIs, blockchain and self-sovereign identity will, it was claimed, underpin new services and products in the telecom industry.
Data driven services in Telco – the Telco Data-Space. A data space is designed to allow sovereign and secure exchange of data within a “trusted eco-system” involving multiple stakeholders enabling value creation (monetisation) as well as ensuring security for organisations who collect and store data where there is a significant duty to protect the privacy of consumers. Telco Data Sharing/Space is a key enabler for Data Sharing and Data-driven Services.
Quantum Key distribution (QKD)
QKD involves sending encrypted data as classical bits over networks while the keys to decrypt the information are encoded and transmitted in a quantum state using qubits. Quantum communications was presented as a reality and now moving into the commercial phase where quantum services will be positioned as a premium offering based on fibre infrastructure.
Somewhat surprisingly a number of contributions related to the Metaverse despite, as an FT article recently put it, an embarrassing lack of traction for many early offerings. Referencing a Garter definition (a metaverse is a collective virtual 3D shared space created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality) one presentation advocated embracing Edge Computing to join the Enterprise Metaverse to overcome latency and data processing challenges. Asserting that by 2030, the global metaverse-related market is expected to grow to $106 billion, the sector is expected to expand beyond consumer entertainment applications such as gaming and social media to applications for widespread enterprise use such as remote work, education, and vocational training.
Some of the other topics covered included Cloud Native Network drivers, convergence of Networks and OSS /BSS using cloud based principles, cloud automation tools, Cloud Native Network Functions (CNFs) and the evolution from VMs to containers, Zero Trust and MANO evolution – the success of NFV to-date and challenges still to be overcome.
While some of the above are undoubtedly very topical and even at the forefront of CTO and CIO minds at the moment, its also fair to say that others are still a while off. That said, we expect significant progress in all areas, be that in development or in production and we look forward to playing our part in driving that progress as we continue to work with customers and partners alike as the year progresses.