Cisco ACI Adopted for NTT DOCOMO's Network Functions Virtualization (NFV)

CIOReview Team | Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 10:54 IST

Cisco recently announced that its next-generation Software Defined Network (SDN) solution, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), has been adopted for deploying NTT DOCOMO, INC.’s Network Functions Virtualization in Long-Term Evolution (LTE) systems for handling the company’s mobile communications.

DOCOMO selected Cisco ACI as the best SDN solution to improve overall efficiency by automating virtual network function deployment and increasing visibility. With Cisco ACI, DOCOMO can repurpose the network as subscribers and applications change, and improve subscriber experience during network recovery and congestion periods by adjusting fabric operations based on application policy.

“DOCOMO is working to provide our customers with high-quality telecommunications services that address the increasing demands of data,” said Seizo Onoe, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NTT DOCOMO  INC. “We are pleased that we have built an NFV system employing Cisco's SDN solution ACI for our network infrastructure.  We look forward to working with Cisco to build an ecosystem for the mobile network industry.”

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index™ Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2015 to 2020 published this month, mobile data traffic is expected to increase eightfold over the next five years due to the rapid increases in mobile users, smart devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections. The rapid spread of LTE systems for mobile communications and preparation for “5G” next-generation networks created new demands for DOCOMO.

DOCOMO serves over 70 million mobile customers in Japan. DOCOMO anticipated the need for an agile and flexible network infrastructure for next generation virtualized mobile networks.  After successfully testing a virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC), the core network of the LTE system, in a multi-vendor environment, ACI was DOCOMO’s choice for automation across their entire network. 

 “Cisco Systems is proud to expand our relationship with DOCOMO through a co-development model for NFV deployments,” said Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President of Cisco. “In order to meet the needs of our customers, we continue to offer the broadest choice of SDN solutions in the market. Taking advantage of Cisco ACI innovations for NFV, DOCOMO is able to lead the industry in the rapidly changing environment of mobility services.”

ACI is Cisco Systems next-generation SDN solution incorporating application profiles for the integrated management of virtualized network functions, whether the functions are deployed purpose-built hardware, physical servers, virtual servers, or container-based micro-services. The ACI solution is comprised of Cisco Nexus 9000 switches, a policy controller called the Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC), and the ACI operating system.

“The ACI policy model flexibly adapts for highly secure, consistent delivery of services for any application delivery end-point,” said Frank D’Agostino, CTO and Senior Director, INSBU Technical Marketing, Cisco.  “The rapidly evolving services and dynamic nature of NFV deployments are a natural extension of ACI and policy-driven infrastructure. ACI increases agility, lowers overall costs, and improves quality of service through simplified operations and complete visibility for each NFV application.”

The expected benefits of the ACI solution for DOCOMO are:

  • Simplify network operations by applying policies linked to DOCOMO’s NFV platform
  • Increase efficiency enabled by automating the deployment of virtual network functions
  • Centralized management and provisioning of network infrastructure through the APIC which provides real-time monitoring and application visibility regardless of deployment - physical, virtual or containers
  • Improve subscriber services enabled by dynamic resource management of network infrastructure in response to application requirements, network recovery, and periods of congestion
  • Ability to support 100GE, IPv4, IPv6, anycast gateway, BFD and QOS