2019 Virtualized CPE Services Have Finally Arrived Via Service Delivery Platforms (2019)

By Ian Wheelock & Charles Cheevers, CommScope

Current models for adding new services and features to the home are highly reliant on upgrading gateway devices with a monolithic firmware image. Typically, lots of effort is required from the Cable Operator, the gateway Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), and possibly a 3rd party Software supplier to add these new features. This not only involves the specification of how everything should fit together, but the planning, development, and testing of the new feature, as well as the entire monolithic firmware deliverable. As one can imagine the time and effort involved can be considerable. Once the monolithic image is created and deployed, the whole cycle restarts with the next feature or service the Cable Operator would like to deploy.

This model has worked. However, when compared to mobile phones or laptops, adding new software features typically does not require an OS upgrade. Why can’t gateways follow this model? or use something a lot more agile that has fewer moving parts to enable faster feature and service delivery to subscribers?

This paper will concentrate on exploring what architectures and platform options exist today to deal with service delivery beyond the monolithic image system and examine the pros and cons of these including how virtualization techniques both in the gateway and in the cloud can be used. Details relating to RAM, flash, and CPU resources will also be covered. The paper will also address aspects of cloud-based applications based on application traffic tunneling and compare these as potential alternatives to thicker gateway hosted services. Its organized as follows and covers the following sections: * New software delivery options that are beginning to appear in the industry * What they mean for operators, OEMs and 3rd party software/service vendors * How they might be applied to existing and future gateway platforms * Impact on RAM/flash/CPU resources * How to manage or orchestrate these services * The trade off between thick gateway services vs virtualized cloud services * How gateway traffic filtering and tunneling enables these services

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