As the Worldwide Web enters its fifth decade of existence, it continues to evolve as these key emerging Networking and Telecommunications trends converge:

  • Ubiquitous Connectivity: broadband adoption, mobile internet access and mobile devices
  • Network Computing: software-as-a-service business models, web services interoperability and distributed computing (P2P, grid computing, hosted “cloud computing” server farms)
  • Open Technologies: APIs and protocols, data formats and software platforms
  • The Intelligent Web: semantic web technologies (RDF, OWL, SWRL, SPARQL, semantic application platforms, and statement-based datastores), and distributed databases
  • Intelligent applications (natural language processing, machine learning, machine reasoning, autonomous agents)

In turn, the evolution of the Network produces the need for new equipment with core architectural improvements that can better support fixed and mobile connectivity.

Broadband Access

Broadband was the first alternative form of Internet Access introduced to displace the traditional dial-up scheme for accessing online data services. Broadband equipment delivers voice, video and data services via high-speed connections ranging from 25MBps up to 1GBps in order to meet the increased demands from both consumers and enterprises to easily access their remotely stored data. With their primary focus being the enabling of customers to more efficiently utilize internet and phone services concurrently, operators may use a variety of the following equipment to connect users to their network:

  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) over twisted pair of cables
  • DOCSIS Cable Modem over coax
  • PON Fiber
  • FWA (Fixed Wireless Access)
  • Satellite

Typical consumers’ primary concern is accessing their personalized data and entertainment services hosted by enterprises, where enterprises are tasked with developing more efficient methodologies for enabling their customers to engage in monitoring and reporting, datalogging, and application/code storage activities. Broadband Access equipment has been especially important following lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As people shifted to spend more time at home, network traffic loads have also changed geographically from city centers and office areas to suburban residential areas. In this time, the fixed Broadband residential network has absorbed the majority of the traffic increase, with the mobile network following close behind. This transition has spurred a need for more compact, environmentally resilient, and energy efficient Internet Access equipment. Accordingly, the embedded non-volatile memory integrated in these systems are lower capacity (8GB to 60GB), come in small form-factors (such as eUSB, M.2 SATA and NVMe, and Secure Digital), are rated for industrial operating temperatures (-40C to 85C), are designed to have low-power consumption, and typically require support for 5+ years of longevity.

Wireless Access

The primary goal of previous generations of mobile networks has been to simply offer fast, reliable mobile data services to network users. As such, the mobile network’s wireless access has evolved immensely since its introduction in 1981. As it progresses beyond its 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE predecessors, 5G has broadened the goal to offer a wide variety of wireless services for the end user across multiple access platforms and multi-layer networks. It is poised to radically change how people and devices connect as it advances mobile network capacity (20Gbs peak data rates), latency (<1 millisecond), and density of connected objects (1M connections per Km²).  These advancements will proceed to inspire innovation around “Internet of Things” and networks that drive global connectivity.

5G is effectively a dynamic, coherent, and flexible framework of multiple advancing technologies that support a variety of applications. 5G leads the way towards disaggregated, flexible, and virtual Radio Access Networks (RANs) with new interfaces creating additional data access points. It utilizes a more intelligent architecture, with RANs, which are no longer constrained by base station proximity or complex infrastructure.

Radio access networks (RANs) are composed of antennas and base stations, connected via fiber or copper. There are three distinct RAN infrastructures: 1) Distributed, 2) Centralized, and 3) Virtualized. Previously, 4G cellular networks have traditionally relied on either distributed or centralized RANs. 5G’s RANs will be more diverse and flexibly deployed, using combinations of each type of RAN architecture on top of 5G’s next-gen core.

Based on latest research, 5G subscriptions are forecasted to grow from 190M in 2020 to over 2.8 Billion in 2025. This demand will trigger the need to deploy new radios and base stations in addition to mobile edge computing equipment. Managing the imminent increase in traffic will require a more robust and interconnected ecosystem of servers, switches, and routers.

Edge Servers and HPC

An edge server is a high-performance computer (HPC) that provides an entry point into the network. Edge devices are often placed inside Internet exchange points (IxPs) to allow different networks to connect and share transit. The primary purpose of an edge server is to store content as close as possible to a requesting client machine, thereby reducing latency and improving page load times, which is important for mission-critical applications.

Rapid global bandwidth growth and the increasing trend of offloading workloads to disaggregated public data centers (the cloud) requires robust server expansion and upgrade cycles by leading cloud companies worldwide. To manage all this data, leading data center operators must frequently upgrade their servers every three to four years, depending on the operator. Just as the cloud moved processing, networking, storage, memory, and software into centralized locations, edge computing will bring these resources back closer to the devices consuming them. Enabled by an increasingly holistic approach to technology, edge computing has wide-ranging implications across hardware and software systems. The next wave of computing is coming to the edge of the network.

Switches

Server stacks are comprised of interconnecting layers of switches with networking capabilities powered by a combination of high performance proprietary or open software. The popular spine-leaf architecture consists of two switching layers—a spine and leaf – that respectively function as the backbone of the network to perform routing procedures and aggregate traffic from servers that connect directly into the spine or network core. . The Spine switches interconnect all the leaf switches in a full-mesh topology.  Because, every leaf switch is interconnected with each spine switch, any server can communicate with another server with no more than one interconnection switch path between any two leaf switches. The advantages of the spine-leaf topology are improved latency, reduced bottlenecks, and expanded bandwidth.

Routers

Routers provide connectivity between networks; they forward incoming packets to the right direction/destination by aggregating together all the packets from Source to Destination servers. In this way, routers support many networking protocols and services, which are needed for different functions that are typically based on the router location in the network. For example, Core routers support connectivity protocols such as RSVP or IS-IS at high scale, while Edge routers need to support additional protocols such as BGP, security, and others.

Due to their location and role in the network, routers act like the “Swiss army knives” of service, as they provide a variety of services to many types of customers/deployments. For example, one of the primary distinguishing characteristics of a router is the ability for carriers to launch revenue-generating services over the router. Because network routers are connected to all buildings and all locations, the software it uses must be capable of connecting any two points on the network. This makes it possible to provide additional add-on services, including prioritization of certain types of traffic over others or security services, such as VPN.

Optical Transmission (OTN)

Networking between data centers is almost entirely achieved through the Optical Transport Network (OTN). As described by the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector Recommendation G.709, the OTN creates a transparent, hierarchical network designed for use on both WDM/WSON and TDM devices.

Data Centers Interconnect (DCI) is generally segmented by distance: subsea, long-haul, and metro. Subsea and long-haul links are typically point-to-point and span several hundred to thousands of kilometers. Metro networks can be further broken down into metro access intra-network connections that run point-to-point networks that span 2km to ~100km or point-to-multipoint networks that span 100km – 600km.

Cyber Security

Network and Infrastructure Security includes all solutions that secure the network traffic such as Firewalls, Secure Routers, Unified Threat Management, Next-Gen Firewalls, SSL VPN, Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) and Secure Web Gateways (SWGs).

Legacy Firewalls are some of the earliest cyber security products offered in the market. The core functionality, such as traffic filtering and setting up a security perimeter around the corporate network, remains relevant today.

While many vendors have combined Routers with Firewalls, the secure routing market is being overtaken by Integrated Security Appliances such as Next Generation Firewalls and Unified Threat Management (NGFW and UTM). NGFW add deep packet inspection for application-aware packet filtering, vs. traffic filtering solely, based on ports and protocols in legacy firewalls. UTM systems combine firewalls with a slew of other functions into a comprehensive all-in appliance.

Virtual private networks (VPN) protect data through encryption, creating temporary “tunnels” between two locations, such as the home and the office. The encapsulation allows the data to safely travel over unsecured Wi-Fi networks, making VPN ideal for remote connections. VPN functionality is now integrated into UTM/NGFW appliances and is also increasingly being integrated into new cloud platforms (such as CASB) and endpoint security agents.

Case Study: TuffDrive eUSB for Server Boot and Memory DumpCase Study: Replacing EOL CF with Virtium TuffDrive CFCase Study: High Capacity mSATA SSD for IP Router

Integrated Storage and Memory Solutions for the Network & Communications (NetComm) Market

Growth and competition in existing 4G networks and the transition to 5G technology have dramatically increased pressure on operators to become more efficient. Networks must be designed to handle both legacy technology such as 3G and 4G, and at the same time gradually upgrade to/with the new 5G technology. Recent advances in the computing power and software algorithms have helped to achieve the smooth transition. They provide the ability to build capacity with greater flexibility and agility, which can significantly improve new services.

The combination of computing processing and software have created a number of new virtualized networking products:

  • Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)
  • Open Radio Access Network (ORAN)
  • White box cell site router – software-defined gateway router for telecommunications based on the Open Platform Communications (OPC) standard

Since these products are based on computer boards with storage and memory, the hardware solutions must be optimized for rapid transfer, low latency,  data storage reliability, and solid protection against loss from power failure and other hazards. Beyond how data is handled, these systems must also operate at low power and fit within form factor constraints, all while still maintaining exceptional resilience to harsh network and telecommunication environmental factors like heat, shock and vibration.

These are the value propositions that Virtium offers through its solid-state storage and memory solutions, supporting a wide range of NetComm applications for indoor and outdoor deployment.

For NetComm virtualized products such as NFV, ORAN and white box routers, Virtium leverages powerful Intel-based products in the form of system-on-modules and single-board computers.

Virtium customers have integrated the Intel Xeon and Core based computer-on-module with Virtium’s industrial-grade StorFly M.2 SATA and 2.5-inch SATA SSDs, DDR4 memory modules and StorKit SSD software, to create a bundled solution that emphasizes speed, connectivity, efficiency, and data security throughout NetComm solutions.