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A Closer Look Into How Cisco is Enhancing the Virtualization of their Service Provider Portfolio



By Ewald Yao, Sr. Marketing Manager, Cisco Service Provider

Cisco is so excited to expand the scope of the entire Service Provider Portfolio, not only through virtualization, but also taking a holistic view in orchestrating and automating it.

Wouldn’t it be great if a Service Provider could pick and choose specific features, functions and applications, at a store front/Service Broker to address unique consumer and/or enterprise requirements in just a few clicks, instead of waiting months or even years for the desired feature to be made available?

Wouldn’t it be great if the compute, storage and network resources, and virtualized functions could be deployed on the fly, when and where they are needed, to provide the most cost-effective deployment model?

Cisco introduced the Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) last September, the foundational layer of the Cisco Open Network Environment. With the innovative capabilities of the Cisco Evolved Services Platform, Cisco delivers significant business value for Service Providers. All virtualized and physical functions living in the network, regardless where they are in a network topology, be it a BSS or OSS, within a data center or across data centers, at the access, edge or core, all need to interwork seamlessly to deliver the personalized services on demand wherever customers connect.  In essence, one must automate and network the virtualized elements together to increase business agility and accelerate revenue growth.

What is Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP)?

In a nutshell, The Cisco ESP is a comprehensive, unified virtualization and orchestration software platform that is open, extensible and elastic. It creates, automates and provisions services in real time, across compute, storage and network functions, to deliver desired business outcomes for applications running across multiple domains.The ESP also ensures the right type of experience for subscribers regardless of how or where they connect to the network (Fixed, Mobile, Wi-Fi).


Figure 1: Cisco Evolved Services Platform Elements

The ESP consists of the following key functions (Upper part of the Figure 1): Orchestration Engine, Catalogue of Virtualized Functions, and Service Broker, by using Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) technologies and advanced orchestration capabilities. The ESP is the middle layer of the Cisco ONE framework where the EPN is the foundational layer for managing the physical and virtual infrastructure as defined in the ETSI NFV Specification.

Service Providers would love to be able to create, add, modify, or remove a service in minutes, not in months or years at their store front, i.e. Service Broker, to meet todays’ business requirements. Upon these atomic actions, a series of requests will be sent to the factory, i.e. Orchestration Engine, based on the service attributes and policies to automatically respond to  requests for service that are activated from the available offerings In the Catalog of Virtual Functions.

With Cisco’s Evolved Services Platform, service providers can confidently automate innovative new cloud service offerings, efficiently harnessing their network and data center assets, enabling them to lower operating expenses by some estimates up to 65 percent, while accelerating new revenue growth at up to five times (5X) their current rates. This platform facilitates agile business processes and innovation far more effectively and faster, and thus better return on investments (ROI).

What are the new service modules introduced first in the Cisco Evolved Services Platform?

Not only does Cisco introduce the ESP platform, it also introduces two essential modules to enhance the service agility that may be deployed today. They provide pre-packaged end-customer solutions that can be turned up in minutes, and scaled elastically as business needs dictate.

Mobility: Virtualized Mobile Internet - The Private LTE network is generally viewed as a suitable deployment model to provide services such as mining, transportation, or public safety, based on the Cisco Quantum Virtualized Packet Core. The Cisco Quantum Virtualized Packet Core (Quantum vPC) builds upon the industry leading functions and offers the same features and functionality as the ASR 5000 series Packet Core, along with other new virtualized components. It was independently validated by the European Advanced Networking Test Center in Berlin, Germany (EANTC) during January 2014. For more details, please click here.

This virtualized mobile Internet service module is currently in lab trials at China Mobile and will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress 2014.

Video:  Multi-screen Cloud DVR - Consumers want the freedom and flexibility to have time-shift and place-shift in viewing their video content around their own schedules, inside or outside the home. The Cisco Videoscape Multiscreen Cloud DVR uses the Cisco ESP to reduce OpEx and delivers agility. It is currently deployed in a major North American video operator. It works either independently or in a complementary fashion with physical or “as-a-service” elements of the solution.

Is the Cisco ONE Framework compliant to the ETSI NFV architectural framework?

An interesting question to ask is, “Is the Cisco ONE software framework compliant to the ETSI NFV  specification?”; “Does Cisco implement its EPN and ESP in an open manner, enabling best-in-class capabilities across a multi-vendor ecosystem?  The answer to both these questions is a resounding YES. It is standards compliant.


Figure 2: Cisco ONE ESP and EPN Implementation mapped to the ETSI NFV Architectural Framework

The Cisco ESP implements the three working domains as defined in the ETSI NFV Specification:

  • Virtualized Network Function (VNF), as the software implementation of a network function which runs over NFV-I. A VNF can be composed of multiple internal components.
  • NFV-I (Network Functions Virtualization) Infrastructure, including the diversity of physical resources and how these can be virtualized. NFV-I supports the execution of the VNFs. It is the totality of all hardware and software components which build up the environment in which VNFs are deployed, managed and executed.
  • NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO), which covers the orchestration and lifecycle management of physical and/or software resources that support the infrastructure virtualization, and the lifecycle management of VNFs. NFV MANO focuses on all virtualization-specific management tasks necessary in the NFV framework. It consists of the Orchestrator, VNF Manager(s) and Virtualized Infrastructure Manager(s).

Figure 2 illustrates the ETSI NFV Architectural Framework with the functional blocks and how the Cisco ONE ESP and EPN implement it. Simply put, the Cisco EPN covers the ETSI NFV-I, managing all physical and virtual infrastructure resources, as well as the ETSI Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs). Example of Network Functions are 3GPP™ Evolved Packet Core network elements, MME, SGSN, P-GW,  and S-GW; and conventional network functions, e.g., Load Balancers, Firewall/NAT, DPI, etc. That’s the purple box on the left in the figure 2. The Cisco Evolved Services Platform (ESP), on the left side in the dark green box, implements what the ETSI specification calls the NFV Management and Orchestration (MANO) layer as well as Service, VNF and Infrastructure Description, which provides information regarding the VNF deployment template, VNF Forwarding Graph, service related information, and NFV-I information models. The Cisco ESP also interworks with the OSS/BSS of an operator to execute tasks e.g. related to fault management, performance management, configuration management, etc.

The NFV framework enables dynamic construction and management of VNF instances and the relationship between them regarding data, control, management, dependencies and other attributes.

How can the Cisco ESP be delivered?

To simplify how Service Providers purchase this solution from Cisco, we provide four possible ways to meet their business needs. They can purchase individual virtual functions independently as a separate module, purchase selected virtualized functions in an orchestrated fashion to deliver a service, purchase virtualized functions, orchestration, software combined with hardware, and associated advanced services as a “POD”, or purchase it “As a Service” model, either managed or white labeled for faster time to market.

With all this, what is unique about the Cisco ESP?

Not only does the Cisco ESP provide a comprehensive and unified software platform that is open, extensible, and elastic, but it also addresses the entire Service Provider’s network from the access to the data center to provide the best optimal network around the clock. It provides the essential capabilities that service providers need to expand their business models and accelerate time-to-revenue of new services. It allows third party vendors, customers and developers to support and run their software on the platform by open APIs. The platform is easy to buy, easy to deploy and easy to manage. That’s how the Cisco Evolved Services Platform differentiates from others.

For more Information

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