Look around and you’ll find a sea of acronyms for the many networking technologies in the market today. From IoT to SDN, NFV, LTE, 5G, C-RAN, and beyond, the list goes on. It’s easy to look at all of these as distinct and separate technologies. To understand the industry’s trajectory and take full advantage of the benefits of these technologies, it is important to first understand how they all fit together. Viewing these technologies as parts of a whole, instead of separate puzzle pieces, allows system designers to create solutions that best address the networking market. This, in turn, makes the network infrastructure a “consumable” entity — one that can be scaled out and allocated dynamically, rather than provisioned in large chunks as the result of a complex planning process.
At the center of this infrastructure is the Evolved Network. The core building blocks of the Evolved Network are:
- software-defined networking (SDN)
- network functions virtualization (NFV)
- redistributed intelligence
Among these other technologies, IoT and 5G cellular are prime examples and are also intertwined themselves. A common vision of the IoT is billions of things communicating data to other IoT nodes, systems or people via the Internet, with any analysis performed in a far-off data center “cloud” optimized for analyzing big data. Shortcomings of this approach include the volume of data that must be transported to a central point, the latency of reacting to this data and the absence of any mechanism to control how it is moved.
Applying the Evolved Network to IoT resolves these shortcomings. Redistributing intelligence — by installing a multicore processor dedicated to IoT analytics — in an IoT gateway or service provider edge router reduces reaction time by shortening the distance between the “thing” and the analysis engine. In so doing, it also lessens the volume of traffic carried to a central data center, reducing the cost of connecting it to the network. Analytics and IoT network functions can be virtualized, perhaps to facilitate scaling them out to accommodate a greater load. SDN provides the mechanism to control the flow of data. For example, some data may need to flow from node to node, whereas other data should flow to a particular analysis engine, and a failover path for any of these flows may need to be set up on short notice.
As billions of IoT nodes begin to connect into the network, increased support is needed for the influx of data and users. Soon, next-generation (5G) technology will be required to upgrade the cellular network to handle the big increase in connections and bandwidth. This new technology may virtualize many functions of the core cellular network, redistribute intelligence (moving some functions to the cloud and others toward the periphery of the network) and use SDN as an application platform and general network-control technology.
Although it may seem that the network of the future is comprised of disconnected technologies, the reality is that they are all interconnected by the three principles of the Evolved Network. Only by acknowledging their interconnectedness, can we make the network become a consumable entity. With the industry’s broadest portfolio, including QorIQ LS series processors, and a focus on usability, we are constantly working to make that vision a reality.