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Vodafone Software Upgrade Leverages Cisco, Ciena, Juniper for Transport SDN

July 27, 2022

Vodafone successfully completed an advanced software upgrade across its entire global transport network, which serves hundreds of millions of users and third-party internet and content providers in 28 countries across four continents.

The software enhancement is the foundation on which Vodafone and its wholesale and enterprise customers can progressively add capacity faster and more cost-effectively to meet future demand. It will also allow Vodafone and its partners to introduce new services and boost security at scale.

Changes to 620 Multi-Vendor Platforms
As part of its digital evolution, Vodafone directly applied Software Defined Networking (SDN) to the multi-vendor parts of the global network that orchestrates all mobile and fixed data and voice traffic.

Alessandra Pavese, Head of Cloud and Connectivity Evolution and Automation, Vodafone said: “The new technology will lead to a network that is fully automated and programmable and behaves more like a super-computer.

“Changes to more than 620 multi-vendor network platforms can be achieved using software-driven commands, virtually stored in Vodafone’s secure private cloud.”

Eva Rossi, Head of Transport Product, Vodafone added: “Specifically, we applied the software to both the Optical Network, which converts data into light for transmission at very high speeds, and the Internet Protocol (IP) Network that securely allows computers and devices to connect to the Internet.”

Working with Ciena, Cisco and Juniper
Both Alessandra and Eva were instrumental in implementing the software upgrade and are working closely with Vodafone’s network vendors, including Ciena, Cisco and Juniper.

With data traffic over Vodafone’s fixed and mobile networks continuing to grow by more than 15% per year, Vodafone can now more easily meet demand. And through the introduction of advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence, the company will in the future be able to anticipate precisely where it is needed.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone, said: “This is a great achievement by Eva, Alessandra and the rest of the team. The software upgrade gives us a single view on the section of the transport network connecting people and machines globally. It will allow us to provide even faster and more secure connectivity across Europe and to other regions.”

“We can continually and automatically adapt to dynamic peaks in traffic worldwide, whether they are due to people returning to the office or live streaming major sports events.”

Linking 270 Data Centres
Vodafone’s global transport network is the engine of the company’s network operations. It comprises optical fibre cables capable of carrying and directing up to 250 terabytes of data traffic at any one time. It provides the vital links connecting consumers, businesses, and strategic partners via tens of thousands of mobile base stations across Europe and Africa and more than 270 third party and Vodafone-owned data centres.

In addition, Vodafone will better serve the needs of global customers from a single source and a universal contract without them having to deal with a patchwork of separate in-country operators’ networks. Common transport network APIs can also be made available to Vodafone’s global customers and strategic partners so they can improve the quality and the performance of their own streaming, internet, and data services for end users.

Removing Complexity
Vodafone network engineers activated a SDN stack on both the Internet Protocol (IP) and Optical Global Internet network by deploying the IP and Optical area controllers and the Hierarchical Controller.

Alessandra continued: “This enables end-to-end multilayer automation and programmability, removing the complexity for third party services interacting with the network.”

The deployed solution is based on a multi-vendor and multi-layer hierarchical architecture delivered through the implementation of Juniper Networks Paragon Pathfinder IP and MPLS SDN Controller, Ciena Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) Optical SDN Controller and Cisco Crosswork Hierarchical Controller (formerly Sedona Netfusion). Communication between these different vendor components is facilitated through open and standard industry protocols and APIs, creating a single, end-to-end SDN management layer.

“The virtual SDN applications are deployed within Vodafone’s private cloud and are accessible via our geographically dispersed data centre infrastructure. As a result, we can ensure high availability of digital connectivity with enhanced ‘geo-redundancy’ capability,” Alessandra concluded.

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