ZTE SDN/NFV

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Glossary

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EPC = Evolved Packet Core

EPC (Evolved Packet Core) is the core network of 4G mobile network, it has traditional mobile network capabilities, such as user subscription data storage, mobility management, and data exchange, and can provide users with ultra-high-speed Internet experience. The EPC has only the PS domain but no CS domain, is based on the all-IP structure, has the control plane separated from the bearer plane, and has a flat network structure. It mainly consists of three NEs:

MME (Mobility Management Entity): As an NE for signaling control, it is mainly used for mobility management and implements session-related control processing.

SGW (Serving Gateway): It is responsible for processing and forwarding the data of local network users.

PGW (PDN Gateway): Acting as the boundary of connecting Public Data Network (PDN), it is responsible for user data processing and forwarding and the execution of user control policy.

The EPC supports multiple access modes of 3GPP and non-3GPP (such as Wi-Fi), and is an integrated architecture supporting heterogeneous networks. In this architecture, traditional CS domain services such as short message and voice services will be carried by the VoLTE, or the CS fallback solution can be adopted to complete voice services by existing CS domain.

NFV uses generic hardware such as x86 and virtualization technologies to decouple software from hardware. Network functions (NFs) serving as software operate on standard server, reducing costs of dedicated devices. In addition, NFV technology allows resources to be fully and flexibly shared, and implements automatic deployment, elastic scalability, fault isolation, and self-healing based on actual service requirements. Thus, it improves the resource usage efficiency of the entire network and reduces the network construction cost of operators. NFV technology reduces the time of deploying new services and helps to seize new market opportunities and improve returns on investment. The combination of NFV and SDN (Software Defined Network) technologies achieves the synergy of cloud and network, helps operators improve network resource utilization, reduce network O&M costs, improve operation efficiency, promote service innovation, and becomes the core technology of digital transformation.

ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) has defined the basic NFV architecture, including NFV infrastructure (NFVI), VNF (virtualized network function), VNFM (VNF Manager), VIM (Virtualised infrastructure manager) and MANO (Management and Orchestration).

Edge computing has a wide connotation, and different industries have different perspectives. ISO/IEC  JTC1/SC38 provides the most authoritative and broad definition of edge computing: Edge computing is distributed computing in which processing and storage takes place at or near the edge. Relatively speaking, industries pay more attention to on-site edge computing, operators pay more attention to MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing), and the Internet vendors pay more attention to edge gateway and cloud services.

As defined by the European Technical Standard Committee (ETSI), MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) refers to a system that provides wireless network capability, IT service environment and cloud computing capability at the edge of network close to users, including one or more access technologies.

MEC provides a new ecosystem and value chain. Operators can open their Radio Access Network (RAN) edge to authorized third-parties, allowing them to flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments.

5G AR/VR, IoT, industrial automation, autonomous driving and other new services are raising higher and higher requirements on bandwidth, latency and security. The centralized deployment mode of traditional cloud computing cannot meet such service requirements. It needs to expand cloud computing capability to the network edge close to user terminals, which gives the birth of edge cloud. With the computing, storage, network, and acceleration resources provided by edge cloud, it can effectively reduce the occupation of network transmission bandwidth and the latency of network forwarding, improve network usage efficiency, and generate new business models. Operators can open their edge cloud infrastructure to third-party applications to reconstruct the value of telecom cloud.

Subscriber Data Management (SDM) is one of the most critical functions in telecommunication networks. It adopts a hierarchical logic representation, and separates user data from application logic, so as to store user data in the logically unique repository (BE), allowing the access of the entity (FE) that processes the application logic. In the 5G era, to comply with the requirements of 3GPP service-based architecture, the service function or the database function will evolve to multiple independent services.

ZTE Cloud Native SDM solution is based on the Cloud Native architecture of the 3GPP 5G Core, complies with the UDC idea, and adopts the micro-service design concept. With more than 20 years of experience serving global operators, ZTE constructs a highly-reliable fully-converged user data platform oriented towards 5G and codification. It has the highest integration degree between FE and BE in the industry, and supports the unified access of multiple networks such as 2/3/4/5G/IMS.

Based on the industry-leading Universal Subscriber Profile Platform (USPP), FE inherits the traditional 2/3/4G/IMS service functions, and adds service functions supporting 5GC to achieve the convergence of multiple applications.Based on the industry-leading CUDR platform, BE constructs a cloud-based unified data layer and is the public data layer in the communication network. It provides universal data storage service for various NFs (Network Function) and applications in the communication network. It achieves the integration and unified storage of user data in the 2/3/4/5G/IMS network and third-party applications, and can flexibly meet different deployment requirements of operators. 

SDN (Software Defined Network), using OpenFlow as its core technology, separates the control plane of network equipment from the data plane, and separates network control from physical network topology, thus eliminating the restriction of hardware on the network architecture. SDN controller implements unified management and centralized control, reduces the difficulty of network maintenance, shortens the network deployment period, and reduces operation costs.

SDN changes the traditional silo architecture in which applications are closely coupled with networks, and improves the level of network resource pooling. Network service automation is achieved through software replacing manual orchestration. In addition, SDN provides open programmable interfaces to facilitate third-party applications to quickly implement new network functions, accelerating service innovation.

CUPS (Control and User Plane Separation) is to free user plane function from the "centralization" captivity, so that it can be flexibly deployed in the core network (central DC) or access network (edge DC), and finally achieve distributed deployment.
With the optical fiber transmission speed of 200 km/ms, when data must be transmitted back and forth between the terminal and the core network at a distance of several hundred kilometers, obviously, it cannot meet the requirement of 5G network for millisecond-level latency. Based on the CUPS architecture of the 5G Core, control plane functions such as SMF are deployed in the central DC, so to implement unified control to UPFs deployed at the edge or regional DCs and to carry out unified configuration and release offloading policy. User Plane Function (UPF)/GW_U and content are deployed at the network edge to greatly reduce transmission delay. Through the UPF offloading policy local traffic is unoffloaded at the locally UPF, and non-local traffic is sent to the central UPF for processing through the local UPF. In this way, not all the traffic needs to detour to the central network, thus reducing the transmission pressure of the backbone network and the cost of network construction, and improving the bearing efficiency of packet data in the network and user experience.

The traditional network is mainly constructed for the communication demands between people and people. With the massive demands of the vertical industriesy ofof Internet of Everything (IoE),  the process architecture of the  binding traditional network binding software with hardware and the solidifying process architecture  between the network entities s can no longer meet suchthe requirements. To address these new business demands, 5G Core network relies on the core idea of Cloud Native, through theuses service-based network ararchitecture (SBA), network resources can be sliced slicing, and CUPScontrol plane and user plane are separated, . Iin combination with cloud technology, to achieve a customized, exposingopen, and service-based network is achieved.
5G core networkCore has been reconstructed to redefine the network entityties in the form of Network Function (NF). Each NF provides functions by independent functions (services) and can be called from each other, thus achieving the transition from a traditional rigid network (fixed functions of network elements, fixed connections between network elements, solidified signaling interactions) to a service-based flexible network.

Figure 1 3GPP Service-based Architecture 

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IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) is a brand-new multimedia service form. It can meet the requirements for more novel and diversified multimedia services of terminal users. As a core technology of the next-generation network, IMS is also an important way to integrate mobile networks and fixed networks, and converge voice, data, and video services. ZTE's multi-network integrated IMS solution covers all the NEs defined by 3GPP, TISPAN and 3GPP2. It also provides a full range of equipment from the access layer, bearer layer, service layer and user data layer, including IMS core control equipment, user data management, application server, interconnection equipment, media resource server, policy server and O&M support system. Through an IMS network, it provides unified access control for 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, and fixed network users, and provides abundant voice, video, and message services, facilitating the smooth evolution from the traditional network to the virtualized network and cloud native network.
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