Feature Article

January 15, 2013

ABI: SDN to Play a Core Role in 4G Networks

New data out from ABI Research indicates that SDN and virtualization of the Evolved Packet Core will be a $400 million market by 2018.

The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based research and consulting firm calls cloud computing, software-defined networking, and virtualization “ three sides of the same coin.” And it says that the three “will soon bring the benefits of IT evolution to the mobile broadband EPC.”

Cellular networks traditionally have been hierarchical with centralized control and data structures, ABI Research points out. And that, it adds, “required high performance, custom hardware to process, and route traffic.” By comparison, distributed architectures can deliver the same performance, but more cost effectively.

“Operators are of course looking to displace the expensive big iron from their supply chain,” says Joe Hoffman, principal analyst for mobile networks comments. “When the time is right, and the technology [is] proven as low risk, operators will capture additional benefits beyond the low-cost hardware, such as dynamic allocation and reuse of virtualized assets and streamlined service and feature development.”

He adds: “In this brave new world of SDN and virtualization, NSN has a slight lead with their Liquid Core virtualized network using COTS hardware. While most other vendors use proprietary hardware, there is a genuine push towards SDN and separation of the control plane. In general 2013 should bring more clarity on how different vendors will approach virtualization and SDN.”

As noted in another recent MobilityTechzone posting on SDN, David Krozier, principal analyst of network infrastructure at research firm Ovum, believes wireless carrier networks will be one of the key areas in which software-defined networking will become prominent.

“There’s a lot out there about SDN and [the] data center, but I think where SDN will have a lot of impact in carrier networks is in wireless networks,” Ovum’s Krozier tells MobilityTechzone.

To learn more about SDN, join me at the Software Defined Networking pre-conference workshop, Tuesday, Jan. 29. The SDN event will be part of TMC's ITEXPO Miami 2013 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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