It has never been more difficult to be in the mobile network operator (MNO) business: mobile devices piling on to our networks and the exponential growth of data flowing through them are putting bandwidth to the test; the complexity of our applications is increasing; and, at the same time, tolerance for failure has hit rock bottom. Whereas several years ago businesses and consumers could just about tolerate downtime and poor performance, that is no longer the case today. If our networks don’t perform, we can’t perform.
We are starting to see network operators get smarter about how they handle the increasing diversity of data, taking advantage of the latest developments in small cell backhaul technology protocols—and recent research from IHS Technology indicates that the move toward these technologies is accelerating rapidly. Over half of mobile backhaul transport network operators expect to deploy IP/MPLS by the end of 2017 (up from just 23 per cent that deploy it today), and while no operators deploy SDN for small cell backhaul today, almost a quarter expect to in two years’ time.
Incorporating small cell backhaul solutions with the macro architecture is critical for modern network operators, allowing them to better control where data originates and terminates within the network—and ultimately to open up new streams of revenue generation by moving into the managed services space.
But the evolution of the network in this way poses some real logistical and practical problems. Small cells are just as complicated as macro ones, and opening up the vendor pool from one to many can cause a real headache from a management standpoint. More end points, connections and moving parts mean more opportunities for failure and poor performance. As and when these issues occur, rectifying and even identifying them in a way that is both timely and cost-efficient is often easier said than done.
These factors combined present some formidable challenges for network operators. How do you handle that complexity and maintain quality of service but still protect your investments and safeguard your bottom line? The answer lies in the proactive end-to-end monitoring and management of different network architectures, which can help service providers to maintain their environments seamlessly.
For more information on this topic, watch the Leveraging SDN and NFV for Small Cells and Backhaul webinar or refer to the Infonetics Research report.