Survey: Service Providers Moving Broadly to Smart Central Offices

New research from IHS Market finds that 85% of service provider networks will have smart central offices by the end of the year.

Smart central offices include servers, storage and switching so that they serve as mini data centers that offer cloud services and provide the network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure on which to run virtualized network functions (VNFs) such as vRouter, firewall, CG-NAT and IP/MPLS VPNs.

SDN and NFV are spurring fundamental changes in network architecture, network operations and how carriers are organized, which is illustrated by the purchasing decisions of operators worldwide. Nearly every operator around the world is undertaking major efforts, according to the research firm.

Additionally, the move to SDN and NFV is changing the way operators make equipment purchase decisions, placing a greater focus on software. Although hardware will always be required, its functions will be refined, and software will drive services and operational agility.

IHS Markit also pointed out that these smart central offices serve as locations for distributed broadband network gateways (BNGs), content delivery networks (CDNs), mini data centers and other new functions.

The trend to smart data centers is occurring because cloud services for business and internet usage in general have caused carrier network traffic patterns to change dramatically in and out of data centers.

Among other survey findings:

  • More than half of operators (55 percent) surveyed plan to move each of 10 different router functions from physical edge routers to VNFs running on commercial servers in mini data centers in smart central offices. Functions include customer edge (CE) router, route reflector (RR) and others.
  • Seven out of 10 respondents plan to deploy central office rearchitected as a data center (CORD) in smart central offices.
  • Operators expect 44 percent of their central offices will have mini data centers (or smart central offices) by 2023, and will deploy CORD in half of those central offices.


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