The number of users, particularly mobile users, is growing in the networks of telecom operators and other companies. Public and private computing clouds are becoming common thanks to the unlimited and flexible resources they provide. New trends, such as 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT), and the continuous development of solutions for the network layer in public clouds present new technical challenges. Nowadays, everyone – including manufacturers of network solutions, service providers and Internet organisations – is seeking to gain an edge on the market. Everything has to be faster, more efficient and more secure. Changes have to be implemented almost overnight. That is why difficult aspects such as the Time to Market or flexibility keep gaining new significance.
Suitable tools are needed to instantly respond to the changing environment. You have to be able to quickly modify your services and make them available to your partners. In the past, this has not been easy. One of the problems was the hardware itself, where even a tiny change could require replacing the whole equipment. With the SDN technology, however, this will all soon be history.
SDN and NFV as solutions to the major challenges in the telecom industry in the 21st century
There is a demand for high-performance, flexible and secure network infrastructure. Solutions are needed to easily and effectively implement almost instantaneous changes and then ensure their propagation throughout the infrastructure without noticeable disruption. This demand will be addressed by SDN (Software-defined Networking) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization) solutions, which are the core mechanisms used in the networking hardware created at EXATEL. One of them is SDNbox – a Polish programmable hardware platform for telecommunication systems.
What is SDNbox used for
The SDNbox platform enables telecom operators and other business clients to create high-performance, flexible and secure infrastructure both in the aggregation layer of the operator’s network and at the interface with the customer’s network [CE – Customer Edge / CPE – Customer Premises Equipment]. It is a solution developed using publicly available components and network interfaces that can perform many specific software-defined networking functions, such as: router, switch, encryptor, probe, firewall, anti-DDoS or Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC).
OpenAPI – open to other solutions
Open standards and protocols (e.g., OpenFlow, Netconf, REST API) are key to the development of Software-Defined Networking. That is why we place great emphasis on using such standards and protocols in our solutions. In particular, we want to enable easy integration with other solutions or software. We also want the global open-source community to eventually be able to create their own components that can be integrated with our solutions.
Multi-functional equals more effective
Thanks to SDNbox, a single device will be able to provide multiple functionalities without spending money on further, dedicated hardware. The users will certainly enjoy having fewer devices in their racks, and they will appreciate simpler network architecture, lower electricity consumption and reduced expenditure on network management and maintenance. Another advantage of SDNbox is its capability to make better use of the computing power of the device through dynamic resource allocation and load balancing for traffic on specific routes. This feature is particularly important to telecom operators, who require high quality of their services.
SDNbox and security
Networking hardware has to be both efficient and secure. In SDNbox, you will be able to not only implement the basic Firewall feature but also the anti-DDoS function, for protection against volume-based attacks, and the Probe for passive detection of routine threats based on the available signatures. With the Hypervisor, in turn, you will be able to use the available computing resources and run your own Virtual Network Function solutions in the Network Function Virtualization (NFV) environment, and thanks to the OpenAPI mentioned above, new services may be added to the existing functions of SDNbox in the future.
SDNbox as a scalable virtual platform
The solution we develop can perform almost any function. How? All it takes is for the software that controls the service to run on a virtual platform. You need an additional proxy – simply install the software to perform this function. You want to create a “captive portal”? No problem. The available computing power of SDNbox is sufficient to perform multiple functions. But that is not all. As your needs increase, you may have to rescale your hardware platform (IaaS) so that it can match the increased demand for computing power, e.g., by increasing drive capacity, RAM, etc.
SDNbox equals savings
Thanks to its versatility, SDNbox will reduce both your CAPEX and OPEX. This has been and will continue to be a crucial factor for any organisation. Let’s illustrate this using the example of EXATEL – a Polish telecom operator that, obviously, will be the first customer using SDNbox. With the Software-Defined Network approach, the network environment will be able to adapt to the customer’s requirements almost instantly. Programmable circuits (FPGA, field-programmable gate array) ensure the high functional flexibility of the device without compromising its performance. And when you consider the scale of EXATEL’s business – over 20,500 km of fibre-optic network, with thousands of devices – SDN solutions are clearly superior in terms of cost efficiency.