Saturday, 10 October 2020

Economic Benefits of Virtualizing the CCAP Core with a Microservices Based Architecture

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Architecture

Service providers are going through a digitalization journey. And one aspect of that journey is the virtualization of their service delivery infrastructure. At Cisco, we are making that transition easier for our customers by creating a common virtualization platform across mobile 5G, cable vCCAP, and Telco vBNG. This helps operators reduce their cost to virtualize the infrastructure and enable them to rapidly tap into new revenue opportunities.

When it comes to virtualization for cable, we did not virtualize the legacy CCAP, we re-architected the platform from the ground up to come up with a microservices-based architecture. That is what became our Cloud-native Broadband Router(cnBR). Why? That was the only way to get to ours and our customers’ end goal which is a hybrid, Multi-cloud, and Multi-Access Edge Compute(MEC) based cable broadband platform. cnBR has four major types of microservices: Data Plane(DP), Control Plane(CP), Real-Time(RT), and Management Plane(MP) that we can deploy at any location in the network or the cloud. cnBR’s microservices-based architecture enables webscale operations such as auto-healing, autoscaling, load balancing, and fault-tolerance at the infrastructure layer.

Evolution

With cnBR’s microservices-based architecture, you can start with a simple on-prem appliance like architecture that is familiar to your operations and IT organization. And as you gain familiarity, you can evolve into a hybrid and multi-cloud world by moving some of the microservices to public cloud platforms. The move of some of the microservices to public cloud platforms such as GCP, Azure, and AWS will reduce operational burden, extend reach, and augment capacity. Figure 1 shows the phased deployment evolution of the cnBR architecture:

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Figure 1: Evolution of cnBR Architecture

Phase 1: Centralized on-Prem and cloud-native appliance – In this phase, you will start with all the microservices running in the hub or Datacenter.

Phase 2: Multi-Access Edge Compute(MEC) – Here, you will slowly move some of the microservices closer to the edge in an Edge compute platform or a node that has a compute board to enable a MEC architecture. This will focus on shifting the data plane(DP) and real-time(RT) microservice to MEC platform.

Phase 3: Hybrid Cloud – This phase moves the management plane(MP) and control plane(CP) microservices to a private or public cloud and keeps data plane(DP) & Real-Time(RT) microservices at the edge

Phase 4: Multi-cloud – This phase provides flexibility in enabling the management and control plane microservices to run in any public cloud environments with minimal friction.

 Why Migrate to a Microservices based Architecture?

With microservices-based architecture, you can improve:

– Time to market: you can get features in weeks vs months, 

– Agility:  you enable hitless and maintenance windowless upgrades, 

– Scale: you gain seamless and on-demand auto-scaling which gives you unprecedented cluster level redundancy and scale,

– Cost: you can lower TCO with reduced footprint and facilities cost.

Why Cisco’s cnBR?

The virtualization of the access infrastructure is one way to add more capacity. To better understand how operators can virtualize and reap immediate business benefits with cnBR, we looked at CAPEX and standard operational costs like space, power & cooling while increasing the scale of the microservices-based architecture. We also did the same scaling and cost analysis of a legacy appliance-based CCAP solution so we can compare the savings. What we found is a compelling business value of going to a microservices-based architecture. These are additional benefits to the service/feature velocity and operational efficiency enabled by agile webscale operations of microservices-based architecure.

The analysis included scenarios where bandwidth per service group is increased from 1 Gbps to 5 Gbps in the downstream while the upstream is increased from 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps. The average Capex Savings was 29%, average OPEX savings were 42% and the average space(RU) savings were 73%. Figure 2 highlights the savings as the bandwidth scales up.

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Figure 2 . Business benefits of cnBR as system bandwidth scales up

To help do your own analysis, we have created an easy to use vCCAP economics calculator. You can do your own analysis based on your current network configuration and long-range plan(LRP). Figure 3 highlights the type of summary output you can get from the vCCAP Economics Tool.

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Figure 3. Summary of Capex, Opex comparison between cnBR and traditional CCAP

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