Mobile is no longer simple, we now have smartphones and smarter devices, creating a whole Internet of Things (IoT) that accesses the internet through mobile networks. The proliferation of Internet-connected devices – watches, tablets, phablets, thermostats, laundry machines, cars, power meters, and more creates new, higher expectations for the quality of service (QoS) from mobile providers. To add to the complexity, architecture changes are driving operators to perform critical revenue-generating voice services over the same data network with Voice over Long-Term Evolution (LTE / VoLTE). Mobile operators require sophisticated, specialized visibility, so they can maintain quality-of-service (QoS) and monitor users' quality-of-experience (QoE) to gain and retain subscribers who constantly demand more throughput at lower latencies.
CloudLens™, Ixia's platform for public, private, and hybrid cloud visibility addresses the challenges subscriber-aware visibility. CloudLens Private, the arm that supports private cloud technologies, provides mobile carrier-specialized packet-level visibility capabilities tailored to provide them the information needed provide a positive user experience by delivering optimized data to passive, specialized QoS monitoring probes.
CloudLens Private with MobileStack capabilities:
- Allows providers to scale-out monitoring for the evolved packet core (EPC)
- Provides subscriber-aware filtering and load balancing
- Allows isolation of high-value customers with whitelist capabilities
- Is multi-platform capable - works for physical, virtual, and hybrid transitional deployment models
- Lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) of monitoring solutions and cost per packet
The Data Explosion
We are experiencing a data explosion - research shows global mobile traffic levels will increase sevenfold between 2016 and 2021 to reach 49 exabytes per month (1 exabyte is equivalent to 1 billion gigabytes), according to the Cisco Visual Network Index, Forecast and Methodology: 2015 - 2020. The proliferation of Internet-connected devices, known as the Internet-of-Things (IoT), drives this explosion, in part. Mobile networks support phones, tablets, watches and must now support cars, medical devices, manufacturing equipment, and everything in-between. Beyond just devices, the consumption of newer media and services further drives data growth. Video streaming is quickly becoming the dominant consumption of mobile data through applications like YouTube, with other applications like Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, etc. also growing.
A Higher Bar
The new era of mobile and device users expects more from mobile carriers – users not only want to stream video and make calls over data connections, but they expect connectivity while driving cross country, no matter where they are. In some countries, of South East Asia (SEA), mobile phone connection penetration is over 100%, meaning subscribers are getting services from multiple operators to meet their demands. Couple that with usage trends, such as users in the United States having nearly 11 hours of screen time a day, per a 2016 survey. This leaves no room for disruption of service or quality gaps from mobile carriers. Subscriber experience and satisfaction drives mobile carrier business, so they require 24/7 visibility and monitoring that can scale with their growing needs to ensure subscribers are happy.
Virtualizing the Mobile Core
To meet the extended needs of IoT while, at the same time, reducing cost induced by dedicated hardware, mobile carriers began virtualizing their networks, including the evolved packet core (EPC), earlier this decade. Most deployments began small with simple services, such as Domain Name Servers (DNS), but are migrating to virtualize the whole evolved packet core (vEPC). Deployment of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) enables a smoother move towards 5G, as virtualization becomes a more critical enabler that can ease the migration and will likely serve as the foundation for further advancement. Virtualization is growing so quickly that "ABI Research forecasts that spending for the virtual mobile packet core, which includes the virtual evolved packet core (vEPC), will exceed that of physical network functions by 2019, topping $8 billion by 2021."
Network operators now require a solution that can meet their specialized subscriber-aware visibility needs in both virtual and physical deployments as they continue this journey of virtualization.
A Unique Challenge
As traffic grows relentlessly each year, network operators cannot cost-effectively manage QoS and QoE just by scaling out the monitoring probe infrastructure. If a standard network packet broker (NPB) load balances the traffic, then the virtual or physical monitoring probes must communicate among themselves to correlate control and data plane packets to successfully see individual subscriber's traffic across the network. This creates a challenge, because an individual subscriber's experience is difficult to assess as he or she moves between cell towers. Using a standard packet broker not only requires every probe to be aware of all sessions from a control plane perspective, but significantly impacts performance - up to 50% of a probe's capacity is used to correlate packets between probes. This proves a significant cost to operators and limited resources can result in a visibility challenge; this leaves room for blind spots for visibility into the user experience and failure of service quality assurance.
MobileStack Capabilities in CloudLens
Ixia's GTP Session Controller (GSC) served as the first dedicated physical solution that provided operators subscriber-aware visibility for physical environments with its MobileStack capabilities. CloudLens Private now includes these capabilities to address traditional, virtual, or hybrid EPC.
MobileStack capabilities are designed to meet the unique, specialized visibility needs of the EPC, providing a virtual solution for the virtual and hybrid network. Subscriber-aware capabilities for CloudLens include GTP session correlation, GTP load balancing, subscriber-aware filtering. Additional support is planned for device-aware filtering, location aware filtering, EPC parameter-based filtering, and subscriber sampling in near future.
With CloudLens, mobile operators can now scale out their virtual probe infrastructure and monitor QoS and QoE with better visibility, all to ensure they keep their subscribers satisfied.
Ixia offers specialized visibility for physical and virtual environments, tailored for the mobile operator evolved packet core through its CloudLens platform. The solution is scalable, subscriber-aware and is multi-platform capable meeting the need of hybrid deployments.
CloudLens Private also offers virtual tapping, virtual packet processing, and advanced, Layer 7-based application filtering for applications such as Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter (CORD).
Stack up Ixia’s leading visibility intelligence features to optimize your visibility in any environment.
Robust filtering, aggregation, replication, and more - the Ixia gold standard baseline for visibility
- L2- L4 Filtering
- Source Port Labeling (VLAN Tagging & Untagging)
- Aggregation & Replication
- Load Balancing
SecureStack capabilities are not available for this network packet broker or for this platform at this time - visit the page to learn more
Optimized handling for secure traffic
- Active SSL
- Passive SSL Decryption
- Data Masking Plus
Context aware, signature based application layer filtering
- Application Identification
- Geolocation & Tagging
- Optional RegEx Filtering
- IxFlow (NetFlow + Meta Data)
- Packet Capture
- Real-time Dashboard