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Experience delivery networking: the network ahead

26 September 2011

Network intelligence in combination with subscriber knowledge is the key to the kingdom of service provider value, writes David Noguer Bau

Read more: Juniper

Co-sponsored feature: Juniper Networks

David Noguer Bau: service providers need to evolve with the #
digital economy 

Today’s high value services come from a range of sources, from Netflix to Facebook 

The telco is at the centre of the industry’s new business models 
Half a century ago, telephony was considered a high-value service by most people; it provided instant communication anywhere at any time, saving time and money.
Ten years ago, a high-value telecom service was the ability to provide broadband connectivity over the incumbent phone provider’s lines.
The perception of high-value for today’s teenagers has changed completely. Digital natives perceive the value in the potential of building their own social and entertainment ecosystem. So when asking a teenager about the digital brands that matter to him it is not rare to get a long list of online sites and maybe manufacturers without mentioning any service provider, fixed or mobile.
What makes these brands so appealing? The services they offer bring a combination of simplicity, productivity, fun, convenience, context, sociability.
So what’s the perceived value of service providers among future consumers? Is the fixed and mobile operator destined to become relied upon for just commoditized services?
Experiences hold the key to activate customer relationships across the footprint. By providing a value-add to experiences, service providers will assure relevance to a broad customer base. New online services will require more than just simply a best efforts internet connection, so it will be in the service provider’s hands to provide the right experience around it. A good example could be HD video conferencing; the service provider can deliver the required bandwidth and QoS as the call is established.
This will be particularly important as transport revenue will continue to give way to revenue-generating experiences. So, where can we find the unique value that service providers can offer to that mix?
When analysing service providers, we can consider their value on two axes: subscriber knowledge and network intelligence.
Service providers have been able to create value with walled garden services such as IPTV, whereby subscriber knowledge and controlled network intelligence have been able to create successful valuable services.
With some additional control of the network intelligence and more subscriber knowledge, service providers are now able to provide video content to any device: mobile phones, tablets, PCs or connected TVs.
By opening up access to network intelligence and subscriber knowledge to third parties, a new world of collaboration begins: over-the-top providers can enhance the quality of their offering by having controlled access to network intelligence, being able, for example, to request better network performance and moving away from best efforts. Other examples would be third party players being able to use the billing systems of service providers or getting access to the service provider set-top-boxes to provide content.
Network intelligence in combination with subscriber knowledge is the key to the kingdom of service provider value. It also changes the balance of power between service providers and OTT players, evolving from a world of competition towards what has been called "co-opetition".
Areas where OTTs and SPs will still compete are voice and messaging services, mobile advertising, mobile payments, mobile applications and leveraging consumer data.
Areas of cooperation between OTT players and service providers can be: smartphone OS customization, location based services, identity federation, billing, federated and bundled services, bandwidth management for cloud services, field support and customer care. Service providers have a rich set of bankable assets valuable to upstream partners, which brings them back to the table in terms of commercial relevance.
Telecommunication service providers need to evolve with the digital economy. When looking at the next generation of online services, the service provider becomes a key player. Services such as viral TV, cloud set-top-boxes, crowd casting, even connected multimedia cars with vehicle-to-vehicle intelligence, require deep control of the network and subscriber intelligence. And they will set up the basis for the next billion dollar concepts for the industry.
Increased granularity towards the user addresses customer needs and defines the experience to create greater value-add. By customizing how the network can deliver specific applications to specific users, the SP provides greater value to the customer and new value to the content partner.
The journey towards experience delivery networking is based on five key components:
Distribution: Today, content delivery networks distribute content around the internet for better performance. Tomorrow, experience delivery networks will deliver completely new experiences by distributing their components, in the form of both content and compute, into elastic on-demand network edge clouds. Additionally, the ability to transmit live experiences to a mass audience in an optimized way further enhances the ability of the service provider to collapse core infrastructure while unlocking the value of all sorts of mash-up, live interactive experiences developed by either the service provider or the ecosystem. Moving experiences closer to the edge promises better experiences with tools and technologies that comprehensively optimize quality of experience delivery.
Quality of experience: With content and compute pushed to the edge cloud, QoE and in many cases quality of service can be guaranteed with management and control of the network from the experience server to the device. A host of technologies and techniques for both wire line and mobile, distributed and live, make QoE a reality including mobile media optimization, adaptive bit rate management, multi-version caching, device aware delivery and dynamic QoS bandwidth carve-outs.
Portability: Users expect QoE when they pay for content. Increasingly they also expect seamless and secure portability of experience across devices and service providers. EDN enables experiences and user sessions to roam across networks and devices while preserving digital rights management/conditional access system and proper payments for both content and QoE to the content providers and service providers.
Composition: Standards-based cloud hosted content and compute hold the promise of enabling new and innovative mash-up experiences. Imagine fantasy football team standings overlaid on the Sunday game. Imagine medical diagnostic tools in the cloud that 'watch’ a patient’s live movement during a video-call. Imagine a sporting event that markets to you an interactive experience to join the action in real time. In the future, content merges with computing on-demand and in real time right at the network edge.
Cloud: Experience providers — content providers, websites, software as a service or enterprises — must host experiences somewhere. If the network edge, with elastic on-demand cloud computing grids, QoE management and federation, becomes the most compelling location to host content and partitionable computing loads, experience providers can focus on the experience while leveraging EDN on-demand for cost effective and flexible delivery. Service providers can leverage the same infrastructure to collapse the core and deliver out-of-footprint experiences. 
End user demands for anywhere anytime access to rich media content and bandwidth-intensive application deliveries are increasing dramatically. Delivering a reliable, high-quality user experience while meeting those demands is a major factor in reducing customer churn and maintaining a competitive position.
The infrastructure that answers that is at the service provider edge. In many cases less than optimal designs of the network edge have an impact to the experience and it holds the customers back.
Competitive service differentiation requires a network that meets extraordinary demands, including the high bandwidth applications and rich media-hungry devices that are pushing your business closer to the service provider network's edge. That puts the network under pressure at the edge because high bursty traffic, such as video, is costly to deliver and can affect subscriber experience.
This means that the network edge is where service provider business will flourish or fail, so SPs need to deliver reliable and secure services by using an efficient means of handling high bandwidth rich media traffic. Key attributes when designing the network edge: Unified infrastructure to simplify the converged service delivery, open, scalable, reliable and content-aware to provide the lowest total cost of ownership maximizing the services revenues. 
Opening the innovation
The election of the network edge is an arduous task: a large investment decision to support subscribers’ demand growth and new applications, some of them not even yet invented. The safest bet is on programmable networks. Building networks that can support emerging architecture and meet today's rapidly growing content delivery demands requires a flexible edge infrastructure that can enable rapid service deployment. Service provider networks are often inhibited from differentiating their businesses with new services because of closed legacy appliance-based issues.
Network equipment software development kits provide specific APIs that enable programmable networking capability for third party developers, opening the innovation beyond the network manufacturer.
Application development has generally meant long, expensive development cycles, limited cross-application development leverage, and a network engineering-centric approach. This has forced developers to focus on costs, cycle times, and foundational code rather than innovative applications.
Having open and network-centric application development toolkits completely changes the model. SDKs are explicitly designed to enable developers to use the information embedded in the network to create unique and differentiated applications rapidly, easily and economically, providing endless possibilities for open network intelligence such as: real-time policy management, custom workflows, network insights for business intelligence, correlation of user subscribed services, quality of service management.
A look at the horizon towards future experiences is quite revealing. Service providers will be able to capitalize on the next generation network edge to build the right experience of advanced applications and services. Delivering customer experience might be the last chance for service providers to create value and so become relevant again to the end user.
In the future, when we ask teenagers about digital brand, they will hopefully mention the Telecom service provider brand, together with the application and device, that is together able to satisfy the experience required. 
David Noguer Bau is head of service provider marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Juniper Networks
Twitter @dnoguer
Juniper Networks Universal Edge
The Juniper Networks MX series 3D Universal Edge service delivery platform is a unified, converged open network architecture for business, residential and mobile operators that can scale to handle the growth of new high bandwidth services at the edge, with improved subscriber management, and excellent user experience.
Quality of experience
Universal Edge provides the industry's most scalable unified edge open network architecture. It optimizes the delivery of a richer content experience, and has an open infrastructure that makes it easier to develop new services within the network and bring them to market faster, putting you on a path to monetization of high bandwidth services. By offloading cacheable content from the network, Juniper Networks can scale your network’s edge while reducing costs and improving the end user experience.
Service acceleration
It’s architecture is an open environment that enables you to control service delivery through your own applications built on the Junos Space programmable service delivery layer. This not only means that you are more flexible in how your delivery system works, the Junos Space platform means shorter development cycles, lower cost, and larger return on investment.
Scaling the edge
Juniper Networks Universal Edge solution provides a more efficient approach to scale the edge of your network with the industry’s only unified service delivery platform powered by a single operating system. Juniper Networks Universal Edge supports the broadband, business, and mobile edge, in addition to Carrier Ethernet. It offers unparalleled scale of up to 5.3 terabits a second and is optimized for secure and rapid service convergence, putting you on the path of optimizing content delivery monetization opportunities.
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