We know the mobile devices we carry are becoming even smarter. High and ultra high-defintion video are being woven into the fabric of our lives. Users demand mobile carriers deliver faster mobile broadband networks and better experiences. There is a gigantic market opportunity to connect the expected 30 billion devices to the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020, but only if we can design a cost-effective and significantly lower latency network than the 100 milliseconds tolerated by voice and mobile data today.
Emerging applications driving this need include real-time remote control, autonomous vehicles and live video from large sporting events. All of this is good news for mobile operators. Not so good news—subscriber acquisition is no longer a significant growth driver for the industry in developed markets, and many developing markets will reach a similar point in the next few years.
Mobile network operators (MNOs) can’t just build more bandwidth in their networks proportional to the traffic because the average revenue per unit (ARPU) is fixed and the number of users is not growing at the rate it used to. The Net Promoter Score is always hanging like a sword on their heads so MNOs can’t afford to compromise on quality of service because subscriber loyalty is non-existent and they can’t take the current ones for granted.
There are two types of applications mobile networks have to contend with. One is service provider managed apps like SMS messaging and voice over LTE, and the other is over-the-top (OTT) content from apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Netflix. To deal with the data tsunami challenge, MNOs need cost-effective visibility so that they can separate OTT apps versus service provider managed apps, and apply granular and context-based policies to each of these application categories.
Today’s 4G networks have inline bump in the wire bandwidth management solutions that are unaffordable in terms of cost and latency. Deep packet inspection (DPI) technology enables mobile operators to examine the apps transmitted over the network. The DPI tools typically work on IP and the service assurance tools typically work in terms of 3GPP standards with unique subscriber number, or the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) and the IP-based protocols such as the GPRS Tunneling Protocols or GTP. Correlating between these two worlds is what increases the cost and latency.
MNOs are spending in excess of 50 cents per subscriber for the current inline DPI and service assurance solutions. This strategy will not scale as the number of subscribers (human and sensors) increases. For example, if a mobile operator wanted to gain visibility and insight on five million users connected to their network, this can cost in excess of $2.5 million per year. In addition, today’s architecture introduces latency in excess of 100 milliseconds, which is not an option for IoT connected devices such as a driverless car.
New Brocade Solution Addresses Cost and Latency Challenges for the Future Mobile Network
An offline, or out of band, solution is required to address the cost and latency challenges for the future mobile network.
Brocade has introduced a new out of band solution that is built on Brocade Envision Fabric for visibility with intelligent correlation capability and fast APIs. The key element of the solution is the new Brocade Envision API which executes dynamic correlation and filtering rules to bring latency down from 100 milliseconds to less than one millisecond while supporting tens of millions of subscribers.
The API inspired by MapReduce, a well-known big data paradigm from Google. MapReduce is a framework for processing large datasets using a large number of computers (nodes), collectively referred to as a cluster or a grid.
Leveraging this concept we developed an API that enables the analytics tools to perform the “MAP” function. Then the API utilizes one of our product solutions to perform the “Reduce” function, which sorts through and filters out unnecessary data such as duplicate packets. The overall system then orchestrates the processing by marshalling the distributed servers, running the various tasks in parallel, managing all communications and data transfers between the various parts of the system, and providing for redundancy and fault tolerance (see diagram).
To validate this concept we worked with industry leaders in DPI technology, Procera Networks, and service assurance, Empirix.
The Brocade/Procera API solution is used to monitor application usage on mobile service provider, fixed broadband or enterprise networks. The solution delivers real-time notifications which can be used by third party systems to block, throttle or prioritize network traffic by application and subscriber. There are many different types of applications that can be monitored, including Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Gmail and Yahoo Mail.
The Brocade/Empirix API provides correlation of user, transport and control plane traffic, enabling predictive analysis for detecting issues before they impact customers. Drill down into micro-events, intelligent database indexing and integrated event ladder visualization can be performed as well as active monitoring options for testing overall network performance or specific interactions, applications, or services. Quality of Service (QoS), Quality of Experience (QoE), Quality of Application (QoA) can be determined.
The API-driven solution architecture reduces the data set by up to 70 percent. Reducing the data set to manageable size makes the solution affordable, cutting the costs from 50 cents to less than 20 cents per subscriber, while providing full visibility into customer behavior and experience.
The solution also delivers fast API latency, going from 100 millisecond to one millisecond making it suitable for 5G and IoT applications.
Thus mobile network operators can finally have a solution that does not have to grow linearly with subscriber and application scale, and makes the network visibility solution independent of the traffic growth or technology upgrades so they can focus on more important issues of driving business and profits.
Visit Brocade’s Network Visibility and Analytics page to learn more about how Brocade is helping administrators of service provider, educational and federal networks.