By Charlie Ashton
Formerly known as LG Telecom, LGU+ is one of the 3 major operators in South Korea and owned by LG Corporation. LGU+ provides a wide range of wired and wireless communications services such as triple-play and data services. They were one of the first operators worldwide to introduce an unlimited LTE data plan.
We spoke recently with Mr. Jaeho Choi, the General Manager and Project Leader responsible for the virtual Router program at LGU+. In this post we’ll summarize what we learned from Mr. Choi about the business challenges that are driving the move to network virtualization, why they selected Titanium Cloud for this project and their plans for future developments in this area.
Virtual Router as NFV test case
During 2015, LGU+ conducted a number of studies to determine the optimum use case for their first application of carrier grade NFV. Besides the expected ROI, a key criterion was to minimize disruptions to their existing operational processes while also minimizing the schedule risk for this initial project. After exploring various potential use cases , the team settled on the virtual Router as most appropriate for their commercial carrier grade NFV program in 2016.
Service uptime is critical
High availability and reliability for field deployment was top of mind for LGU+. The operations team at LGU+ has an excellent track record of maintaining the service uptime that their enterprise customers expect and that is required for critical services. For them, a key concern when introducing NFV into their network is ensuring that the new virtualized services will meet or exceed current uptime levels. Mr. Choi stressed that this constraint was a key factor in their selection of virtualization platform.
Flexibility and open solutions
Finding a solution with the flexibility to scale and quickly deploy new services as needed was an essential consideration for LGU+. As such, “open” solutions were also an absolute requirement for LGU+. Recognizing that a large number of vendors are introducing innovative new hardware and software for NFV on a regular basis, they want to ensure that they retain the flexibility to select the optimum products for their applications. It’s critical to avoid any risk of vendor lock-in, so they only considered products that are fully compatible with all applicable open standards and that have demonstrated interoperability with complementary products from other vendors.
CAPEX and OPEX reductions driven by network virtualization
LGU+ sees the potential for significant reductions in both CAPEX and OPEX from their virtual Router program. Migrating to a virtualized implementation that leverages the performance acceleration features of Titanium Cloud enables them to implement the same function on just two high-performance servers, which leaks to significant cost savings while also delivering other benefits such as improved scalability and better resource utilization.
Why Titanium Cloud?
Mr. Choi outlined five main reasons for selecting Titanium Cloud for the virtual Router program at LGU+.
First, the performance acceleration achieved by the Titanium Cloud Accelerated vSwitch (AVS) maximizes Virtual Machine (VM) density, which in turn maximizes the number of virtual Router instances running on a single server. Typically, Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) based on the Intel® DPDK library deliver up to a 40x performance improvement when running on Titanium Cloud compared to Open vSwitch (OVS), while those using standard Linux kernel I/O realize up to 9x acceleration. In each case, this is achieved with no change to the VNF code itself, leveraging open-source Accelerated Virtual Port (AVP) drivers to deliver the performance gains.
Second, Titanium Cloud ensures six-nines availability at the infrastructure level, enabling LGU+ to meet their service uptime requirements and be in compliance with all their applicable Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
This Carrier Grade reliability is achieved through a comprehensive suite of features and capabilities, including: accelerated live VM migration; the live migration of DPDK-based VMs; accelerated detection of and recovery from both host and guest failures; deterministic, low-latency interrupt latency; comprehensive telco-grade AAA security (Authentication, Authorization and Accounting); automated VM scaling; accelerated virtual switching.
Third, Titanium Cloud is a fully open solution, proven to be compatible with all the relevant open standards and APIs. As a major contributor to open-source communities, Wind River upstreams patches to OpenStack and KVM that address critical needs for telecom customers. As an example, Wind River is ranked in the top 10% of contributors to the Nova Compute project, which is the largest project in the OpenStack community. Titanium Cloud eliminates the risk of vendor lock-in through guaranteed interoperability and interchangeability.
Fourth, as a fully-integrated, packaged NFV cloud Titanium Cloud is available for immediate deployment into live networks. Its advanced installation, commissioning and upgrade capabilities not only accelerate the initial deployment process but also streamline subsequent seamless updates and patching.
Finally, LGU+ sees great value in the extensive range of products from industry-leading partners that have been validated through the Titanium Cloud ecosystem. This ecosystem currently comprises 37 partners with additional companies joining regularly. LGU+ welcomes mutual certification among ecosystem vendors in order to optimize go-to-market time, improve efficiency and reduce their schedule risk.
Next steps build on initial successes
LG U+ plans to complete the benchmark test stage of their virtual router project, deploy it in their live network for field tests and then for commercial service.
After the LG U+ operations team has completed satisfactory stability and performance testing of the virtual Router in their live network, they plan to deploy additional instances and the virtual Router will be deployed as a backup for physical appliances. In the future, migration of their complete virtual Router infrastructure from physical to virtual implementations will be considered.
Our work with LGU+ has already delivered positive results for their virtual Router use case we’re very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Mr. Choi and his team. We can’t wait to get started helping them take the next steps in their NFV journey.