Rajesh Chainani, Vice President (Service Provider) of Cisco Systems, India & SAARC
The service provider industry today is marked by intense competition globally and in India. This intense competition continues to erode the profitability of service providers and is in turn accelerating their transition to an IP-based Next-Generation Network (NGN). Service providers today, require innovative-converged infrastructures that are scalable to cater for tomorrow's new, bandwidth-intensive services.
Such networks need to be intelligent, support integration and flexibility, as it will give carriers short-term relief from competitive pressures and address new market opportunities.
The IP NGNs bring about a broad network transformation that encompasses not just the service provider's network but its entire business. Phased development of the IP NGN involves creating an intelligent infrastructure from which application-aware services are delivered by service-aware networks. This integration provides convenience to the customer, who can now access a wide range of services from a single device, be it contemporary or new services.
Allowing users to choose from a variety of services, and then personalizing them (for example: tiered services, buddy lists, parental controls, etc.) strengthens customer loyalty and increases revenue opportunities for the operator.
To use an analogy, carriers must move from a basic "highway" service structure to a "toll-way" service structure to reap the benefits of their broadband investments.
IP NGN defined
The IP NGN involves a transformation of the service provider's entire network and its business. This "evolution" is an ongoing journey and services, and applications should be made available in an interactive manner - any time, anywhere. Some examples are given below:
These kinds of services are more than just within the realm of possibility, and some may be available within a few years or sooner.
The Triple convergence
Convergence is at the heart of the IP NGN, and it occurs in 3 fundamental ways:
However, convergence is prioritized. One factor makes the IP NGN journey an imperative for all service providers - business success. Quite simply, service providers need to increase revenues and reduce cost of service delivery to create sustainable profitability. They can do this by offering services that are increasingly customer-centric, which demands a planned evolution to transform the network into an intelligent infrastructure.
The IP NGN architecture: Achieving a whole greater than the sum of the parts
The goal of the IP NGN architecture is to provide rich, personalized, and value-add multimedia services. To do this, service providers need a service control framework that supports the key business transition that must be made:
One area in the network that's not converging is access or aggregation. More and more types of technologies are being offered in the access realm - from 3G and Wifi, and Ethernet and Cable, to DSL, ATM, Frame Relay, Fiber, and TDM. This poses new challenges to the network as it now has to adapt to whatever the access means, even multiple ones.
Another major challenge is security. Customers today consider security as an absolute necessity. As a result, security needs to be integrated throughout the network, crossing its own internal barriers to ensure that the services are delivered without compromise. For both of these challenges, and many more in the network layer, intelligence is once again the necessary solution.
To conclude, by building a network with more and more intelligence fully integrated throughout, a service provider is able to leverage a platform on which to better build its business.