Carrier Networking Network Function Virtualization (NFV)
5 minute read

Get Edge Ready by Deploying a Next Generation Central Office

Rapidly changing network architectures along with an unprecedented increase in bandwidth demand are leading to the need for a new generation of central offices.

In This Article

Oh, the good old days when data centers were data centers and networks were networks. Back then, network equipment was specialized and optimized hardware. It made sense to keep the compute, storage and applications sequestered behind data center walls and there wasn’t an argument to the contrary.

My how things have changed

Today, nearly every aspect of the network is being virtualized as disaggregation creates opportunity for network operators to become more agile and responsive to market demands.

This new network architecture along with an unprecedented increase in bandwidth demand is putting undue pressure on operators’ central offices and leading to the need for a new generation of central offices.

Next-generation central offices serve as an edge cloud data center capable of supporting the expected rush of traffic brought to the network thanks to broader adoption of 5G connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT). And they provide scalable, flexible and agile architectures that help service providers deploy new services while saving costs and protecting infrastructure investments.

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Get ‘edge ready’ with NGCO

Network operators today face a common set of questions: 

  • When will we be moving to Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for some or most of our network operations? How are we going to prepare for this change?
  • When will our competition begin to leverage edge processing? How will we make the right technology choices in time to be leading and not playing catchup?
  • When will 5G become an integral part of our business strategy? How will we reduce our risk, control costs and transition from innovation to implementation?

Next-generation central offices help answer all of these questions. 

Data center lab rack
Learn More: NGCO Lab in the ATC

To this end, WWT has developed its own Next-Generation Central Office (NGCO) solution in partnership with Intel, Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), Red Hat, Cumulus, Cloudify and Fortinet.

NGCO is a pre-integrated and validated set of hardware and software, tuned and optimized for SDN, NFV, 5G and other edge compute applications. By offering the platform for a variety of application services (enterprise, residential or mobility) NGCO makes you edge ready.  

The solution enables service providers to increase agility and operational efficiency to improve customer service and reduce costs. Additionally, WWT can work with you to plan and integrate solutions getting you from idea to outcome, with speed and at scale

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411 on NGCO

The WWT NGCO solution is based on an Intel/QCT/Red Hat reference architecture to deliver enterprise-based services to consumers. The solution builds an enterprise services model for managed or unmanaged services using enterprise vCPE paradigms and includes a disaggregated network fabric powered by Cumulus Network’s NOS, Cloudify’s open source orchestration platform and Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN.

Red Hat OpenStack Platform provides the scalability and flexibility needed to meet the network needs of telecommunications service providers.

Cloudify Orchestrator enables service providers to connect, control and automate everything end to end, in both old and new network environments.

Fortinet FortiGate and FortiManager enable SD-WAN, WAN optimization and security to transform the network edge.

Cumulus Networks provides networking software to design, run and operate modern data centers that are simple, open, agile, scalable and efficient.

A reference architecture of the NGCO rack.
A reference architecture of the NGCO rack.

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NGCO in the real world 

To understand the value NGCO brings, let’s examine a few scenarios.  

Light beam
Learn more: WWT Accelerates 5G Rollout with Training and Deployment Expertise

Rapid expansion for 5G rollout:  An emerging service provider plans to roll out 5G in key metro areas to support a major account. The service provider can deploy NGCO pods to colocation facilities and edge data centers. 5G targets ultra-low latency services, which requires service elements be deployed to locations that are physically close to the network edge. This improves performance and enhances the customer experience. Since the NGCO is pre-configured and validated, new installations may be added to rapidly deploy new markets.

High efficiency branch deployment: The NGCO pod may be deployed with SDN and SD-WAN components, ready to support local branch offices. For example, a bank may be entering a new market and wishes to avoid high long-haul circuit costs. The NGCO is deployed with the Fortinet SD-WAN solution, which allows branch locations to rapidly deploy an SD-WAN service combined with a virtualized router/security appliance – Fortinet’s Fortigate VNF. These capabilities can be consolidated and deployed via regionally located NGCO installations. With NGCO, the branch office services are provisioned and managed remotely with greater cost efficiencies. And because the solution is pre-integrated and shipped, it is ready to deploy to a new region when needed. 

Scalable Evolved Packet Core: A cellular wireless provider wishes to scale capacity to address use cases such as network slicing, connected cars, virtual reality devices or video caching. Historically, mobile core network elements are more centrally located. However, low latency, edge services and content delivery network (CDN) services are forcing operators to distribute mobile packet core data-path elements. The NGCO can be deployed at edge sites to add incremental compute and storage capabilities, allowing the evolved packet core (EPC) to be built out and scale as needed. NGCO pods may be distributed to key networking sites to improve EPC efficiency and reduce latency.  

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See for yourself

We invite you to explore the NGCO through a variety of labs and demonstrations we have stood up in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Take a look at this recorded demonstration showing the Cloudify orchestration system and the Fortinet SD-WAN systems in action. The video shows how the system could be used in a branch deployment scenario.

There is a sample hardware pod available to schedule for you to explore. Use this link to get more information on this lab and to schedule remote access.