Reimagining IP networks

07 July 2017 | Guy Matthews

Ground-breaking IP routing innovation from Nokia represents a leap forward in the evolution of the Internet. We take a look at a product range that delivers the performance, intelligence and security that is needed for the cloud and machine era

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The Internet is entering a new era. This next phase will see exciting progress in areas such as immersive communications, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence. 

It is an era that will produce innovations that change our world in ways hard to imagine today. Our productivity will be enhanced, automation and robotics will take over more and more of what humans used to do, and the very way we work and live will be transformed. 

All of this transformation will unquestionably place fresh demands on networks that are already being stretched by today’s services and applications. Rapid growth in traffic volume is inevitable, creating in its wake a new order of security threats, and demanding ever more agility in network operations. 

To give an idea of how much things are set to change, Nokia Bell Labs forecasts that IP traffic will more than double in the next five years, reaching 330 exabytes a month by 2022 with compound growth at 25% per annum. Peak data rates will grow even faster, at nearly 40% annually. This directly relates to consumer and business demand for services including high-definition video streaming and virtual reality.

"The networks of the future will require more performance to support increasingly sophisticated applications and services," predicted Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer of Nokia, speaking at the recent launch of the company’s latest generation of IP routing products. "We need networks with little or no delay that can respond up to 10 times faster than current networks. This will all be powered by the next generation of IP routing platforms."

This new era for networking has moved several steps closer with the unveiling by Nokia of the world’s most powerful internet routing platforms. They are set to play a key role in ensuring that modern networks are faster, safer and dramatically more adaptable than any that exist today. 

Designed without compromise

The market-leading FP4 silicon at the heart of Nokia’s new platforms provides a generational performance boost (see boxout) over existing solutions, while delivering improved network security and intelligence. These innovations will allow both webscale operators and communications service providers to build the world’s most powerful networks and usher in a new phase for the Internet.

Suri explains that Nokia’s new IP routing products are designed without compromise to bring together in the same platform both high performance and the security and intelligence required to support the connecting and automating of billions of devices: "For far too long IP solutions across our industry have required that the customer settle for less," he says. "They’ve had to compromise and choose between platforms that are either amazingly fast or highly capable. Nokia is launching a total redesign of our network processing silicon. We are introducing solutions that literally reimagine IP networks. We’re delivering a generational leap forward in IP routing with phenomenal performance and optimal capability. Our new solutions will provide the networking building blocks to enable an age where everything is connected and automated – machines, people, everything." 

"This combination of power with capability is vital to enable the Big Data insights that the communications, cloud and content industries demand," explains Houman Modarres, marketing leader, IP routing, Nokia, talking to Capacity after the launch.

The latest Nokia routing platforms, he says, offers unique enhanced packet intelligence and control capabilities to provide deep visibility and fine-grained control, improving quality of experience as well as asset utilization: "The new platforms have been designed to allow webscale companies and service providers to meet data demands, adapt to change, and scale cost-effectively and securely for the cloud, 5G and IoT."

Better security, built in

The clear and present challenge of network security is integral to Nokia’s new routing platforms. Both enhanced packet intelligence and control technology are embedded in the FP4 silicon, which, when combined with Nokia’s Deepfield IP network analytics solution and comprehensive SDN portfolio, not only maximizes efficiency and opportunity but also crucially minimises and mitigates threats. These threats include DDoS attacks, which impact productivity and commerce and are growing in number and impact each year. According to Deloitte Global’s TMT predictions, over 10 million such attacks are expected this year alone.

"With the proliferation of things that have an Internet connection, all over the home and workplace, you have perfect places for a denial of service attack to start," says Modarres. "As you add more and more devices onto the network, the network has to be part of the solution. That’s why we’re looking at better insight, control and visibility at the network level so that the network can effectively protect itself."

Cloud-scale routing

These new platforms are also about enabling the next generation of cloud solutions by taking IP evolution a stage further into cloud-scale routing.

The new FP4 chipset is built for cloud-scale routing, as Basil Alwan, president of IP/Optical Networks with Nokia, explained at the product’s launch event: "Networking is changing," he outlined. "Cloud is not about running things in one remote data centre. It’s about assembling a whole bunch of things from 20 remote data centres. The traffic generated by one single cloud transaction is being multiplied as tiers of applications talk to each other. We’re now talking about exabytes and zettabytes of storage. We’re getting close to petabyte class routing. Traffic patterns too are becoming more dynamic."

Webscale operators, he points out, are already dealing with these challenges, and have effectively been leading the way for others in their use of techniques for managing traffic effectively. Now with Nokia’s new routing platforms, service providers can achieve the same levels of management as the basis for a new wave of cloud solutions.

"What service providers need is platforms that are up to the challenge – bigger, more powerful and efficient," says Modarres. "They also need to be more secure and adaptable to handle challenges going forward. The era of cloud-scale routing means, for users like you and I, better, more immersive and richer experiences. That’s what people want. It’s also about a safer and more efficient society. The endgame is huge."

Routers in a class of their own

With the FP4 chipset, Nokia has taken the IP industry into uncharted waters. Not only has it gone up six fold in the capacity that routers can handle, it’s the first multi-terabit routing chipset in existence. It can handle terabit flows, which no other chipset can do. 

"It’s incredibly capable and impossibly fast," says Alwan. "And it offers a huge price performance boost. Routers based on this chip can move massive traffic, but they are also the smartest and strongest routers on the planet. They give deep insight into traffic for analysis and optimisation. They provide the requirements for the next chapter of Internet growth."

Topics: Nokia, IP, FP4, Capacity media, wholesale telecoms