Survey Result: The Most Important uCPE Requirements

In the cost sensitive vCPE/SD-WAN use cases, CSPs and enterprises rank open source based software and APIs, optimized for low-end whiteboxes, as their top requirements.

By Fredrik Ehrenstråle

In a recent webinar by Light Reading, the audience was asked to pick two of the important uCPE requirements statements below:

  • Optimized for low-end white box uCPE hardware (not servers)
  • Memory footprint, boot speed, networking performance, CPU core usage
  • Choice of ARM or Intel hardware for cost optimization
  • Based on open source and open APIs
  • MANO and interfaces optimized for uCPE/vCPE

Amongst an audience of half service providers/operators, half equipment manufacturers, the most important requirements on an uCPE solution was that the software platform is optimized for low-spec uCPE hardware, and that the software platform and adhering APIs are open source and standardized.

Optimized for low-spec uCPE hardware

The first requirement is interesting, since the bulk cost of edge and vCPE/SD-WAN deployments are related to HW, and finding a software platform that can fulfill the required latency, throughput, and resiliency characteristics with fewer CPU cores and less RAM can have a tremendous impact on the expenditures.

Open Source and Open APIs

The second requirement was far from surprising. Everyone needs for their solutions to be built on open source and standardized technologies, with familiar APIs. Open source software reduces time to market and reduces the risk of vendor lock-in. Open APIs and interfaces are critical to minimize integration challenges for orchestration and OSS/BSS.

uCPE Optimized MANO

When considering operational issues, including the platform itself and the VNFs, OpenStack is the natural choice when managing the virtualized infrastructure. However, OpenStack was designed to manage data center resources, and is more powerful (meaning it requires significant amounts of resources to run) than is needed in many cases. An alternative is to use more lightweight solutions such as NETCONF/YANG.

Carrier-grade Networking Characteristics

There are several commercial, open source based uCPE software platforms to choose from. The best has a CPU utilization of as low as 1 core, compared to a market average of 2-4 cores. In terms of RAM /disk footprint the best requires below 1GB, compared to the market average of 4-12GB. The network throughput averages 1Gb IMIX Line Rate, where the best-in-class measures 10Gb, and the average network latency (25-75us) is several times higher than what the best software platform can deliver. With many uCPE boxes currently being built on the Intel Atom C3000 (“Denverton”) processor, CSPs and enterprises need to cut their coats according to their cloth.