Published: 15 February, 2011
Cisco and Juniper are engaged in their usual fight to win the attention of the cellcos, as the mobile core network becomes ever more complex and strategically significant. Cisco is integrating the packet core platform it acquired with Starent Networks far more tightly into its broader IP services portfolio, and is enhancing the ASR 5000, the gateway that ties together all the firm's 3G and 4G core elements. Juniper also has an enhanced mobile core, with an eye on the huge traffic volumes expected on LTE, and video integration, as part of a portfolio called MobileNext.
Cisco has brought together a huge range of mobile IP capabilities under the umbrella label MOVE (Monetization, Optimization, Videoscape Experience). This sees the ASR 5000 integrated tightly with the firm's video delivery network, Videoscape. Cisco says this turns the former Starent mobile core into a full content delivery network (CDN). The gateway distinguishes between different types of content, and different devices requesting them, but makes intelligent decisions about whether to deliver the video as requested. Alternatively, it may delivery from cache to speed response, or the gateway can tell Videoscape to transcode video into formats more optimal for the particular phone or network.
Other hot carrier topics Cisco addresses are mobile data offload, with a new carrier Wi-Fi platform to make that activity more efficient; and boosting intelligence in every part of the network, so that data routing can support specific user profiles and business cases. A new adaptive intelligent routing platform extends through both the mobile and IP cores. Like rivals such as Nokia Siemens or Ruckus, Cisco is adding intelligence to routers in order to make business decisions about which traffic to offload or prioritize, depending on its value. It has even built SIM authentication into its access points.
Over at Juniper, the Cisco challenger has unveiled MobileNext, the "first open mobile core for 2G/3G and LTE networks." This has a range of elements, some from partners like Bridgewater and Openwave. MobileNext was outlined last year, under the name Project Falcon, and aims to distinguish itself from Cisco with a very open approach to third party software partners, via the Junos Space program.
The packet core is implemented in software on Juniper's MX 3D routers. Key elements include the MobileNext Broadband Gateway, which can work with 3G, or as an LTE packet gateway; and the MobileNext Policy Manager, which handles LTE's PCRF functions. Another product in the family, though not on the MX 3D router, is the MobileNext Control Gateway, which handles the mobile core's signaling plane.
Juniper is reselling Bridgewater's control plane portfolio as part of MobileNext, including the latter's HSS and Policy Controller/PCRF, both supported by Bridgewater's Subscriber Data Broker. Also included in the deal is the firm's EPC 500 'control-plane-in-a-box' - a pre-integrated network system that includes the HSS, PCRF and Subscriber Data Broker and is designed to accelerate time to market for LTE.
Another new product on the MX platform is the Service Delivery Gateway, while Juniper is following Cisco in integrating mobile video optimization solution into its core, combining Openwave's Media Optimizer with the Service Delivery Gateway (SDG) and Media Flow with Openwave's Media Optimizer.
Also, Juniper has enhanced the Junos Pulse Mobile Security Suite with the API extension, which adds broader device management capabilities and customization for different terminals.