The demands of the modern digital economy are compelling the enterprise to become both leaner and more flexible, and this is playing out on network and compute infrastructure. Any organization that has not implemented a high degree of network virtualization is in serious danger of falling behind.
But virtualization comes in many forms. And most leading businesses recognize that virtualized hardware is only marginally effective if that hardware still locks you into a proprietary networking platform. It must also be open. This is why demand for universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) has ramped up so dramatically in the past few years. As an open platform, uCPE offers far greater design flexibility than closed and proprietary systems, allowing the enterprise to quickly and easily tailor network architectures to suit an ever-expanding range of services.
According to Technavio, the uCPE market is growing at an average annual rate of 15.39%, or about USD 1.3 billion per year until at least 2026. Leading drivers for this growth include the continued adoption of cloud computing as well as the transition to 5G mobile services, software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and new generations of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms. As an on-premises solution, uCPE not only provides greater control over systems and data but tighter security as well, particularly for highly regulated industries that prefer not to store sensitive information on the cloud.
A recent white paper by Frost & Sullivan, commissioned on behalf of AT&T and Juniper Networks, highlights the importance uCPE plays in the development both the SD-WAN and the broader implementation of network functions virtualization (NFV). First of all, the devices can be easily set up by internal IT teams, providing instant connectivity to the enterprise’s network service provider (NSP), who can enable all the necessary software to implement any number of services.
For instance, a single uCPE can host both WAN optimization as well as a firewall. In a traditional architecture, each of these functions would require a specific piece of hardware that requires its own installation and maintenance procedures. And once a virtual networking environment is up and running, new services can be deployed on-demand and then managed remotely, allowing organizations to evolve and adapt to new competitive demands and capitalize on opportunities as they arise.
The latest generation of uCPE orchestration solutions are available as cloud-based SaaS offerings.Management and orchestration
The secret sauce in all of this is not the device itself, but in the management and orchestration (MANO) platform that oversees this environment. Proper orchestration not only accelerates the rollout of virtualized services, it also minimizes the risk of deploying uCPE-based infrastructure by enabling more accurate connectivity between devices and hastening the ROI of the overall investment.
In fact, the latest generation of uCPE orchestration solutions, such as the newest release for the ADVA Ensemble platform, are being made available as cloud-based SaaS offerings, allowing organizations to reduce upfront costs dramatically and then scale up at their own pace through flexible subscription-based pricing. This means you can quickly implement cutting-edge virtual network services with minimal upfront costs, either for resources or training.
In this day and age, data volumes are too large and the demands on networks are too great to be saddled with legacy, fixed hardware platforms. As enterprise infrastructure pushes past the cloud and out to the edge, network flexibility will separate the winners from the losers.
Open hardware platforms are fueling digital transformation up and down the data stack, and the uCPE, combined with state-of-the-art management and orchestration, is laying the foundation for an entirely new set of data services that will drive revenue and productivity into the foreseeable future.