Unleashing the potential of virtualization by the right toolkits and open testbeds
Lessons learned from implementing a virtualized 3GPP EPC toolkit
Virtualization comes with the promise of cost reduction of both the equipment and of the operations in a core network, through running the core network functions as software on common hardware platforms. Initiated in 2008, Fraunhofer FOKUS OpenEPC (www.openepc.net) is a practical software implementation addressing testbeds and research projects of the 3GPP Evolved Packet Core (EPC), the state of the art mobile core network. This presentation reports on the lessons learned, issues, limitations, and the solutions found while realizing the OpenEPC toolkit, as well as on the flexibility decisions taken in order to realize easily customizable virtual network research infrastructures for more than 25 R&D institutions. Following, based on this experience, the presentation will try to give initial estimates whether virtualization is the brave new world of network operators by considering the massive mobile broadband requirements on the core network against the costs of deploying and running it. Following, the presentation will include a pragmatic evaluation of virtualization technology as well as the description of the directions in which the mobile core network architecture can evolve when using a single underlying hardware architecture as to further reduce the signaling within the core network and the data path stretch between mobile devices and applications. The presentation concludes with a roadmap of virtualization technology seen from the perspective of an industry oriented independent research institution.