Virtual CCAP Infrastructure Management

The move to virtual CCAP and Remote PHY opens up huge new opportunities for cable operators. Services can be scaled up without massive hardware changes. Deployment of services and configuration changes are much easier than before. But to gain the full advantage of these advances, providers need to think in new ways. Managing a virtual infrastructure opens up new possibilities, but it presents new challenges.

MEF’s LSO defines seven Management Interface Reference Points, which are logical points of interaction. Learn more on how APIs work on them here.

Keeping pace with fast systems

A virtual cable infrastructure can let people get new services just by ordering them online and seeing them arrive. It happens much faster than with old processes that require human intervention and perhaps a service call. That is, it will if outdated business practices don’t get in the way. Providers need to make sure no bottlenecks from old processes remain.

Customer records and billing systems need to be ready for the automated deployment of services. Handling of customer issues needs an update. More problems can be handled online without a service visit, so it should be possible to handle them faster. At the same time, customers will need to learn new ways of managing the services they receive. The reduced need for routine processing will give support people more time to give customers the assistance they need during the transition.

Customers expect service with fewer delays than the normal experience of a few years ago. Automation doesn’t just make improvements possible; it makes them necessary.

Coordination among services

A virtualized CCAP makes all services part of the same system. Remote PHY nodes can be repurposed as necessary. The traditional cable infrastructure put different services on different hardware, and the team for each service could work in its own way. A virtual infrastructure puts all the services on the same system, so a certain amount of coordination is necessary. A change in one service could have an unexpected impact on other services.

Control over access and privileges needs thoughtful planning. Each team needs access to a certain set of resources, but it should have only the access it needs. Mistakes could affect the way other services work. The ability to change global parameters affecting all services should belong only to a small, trusted group.

These issues arise even in the deployment of a hardware CCAP appliance, but virtualization takes them a step further. There are more possibilities for reconfiguring the network. The CCAP may become a cloud service. A system that incorporates NFV can create new subnets on the fly, potentially leading to conflicting infrastructure requests from different teams. A process for making the network handle all services equitably is necessary.

Security considerations

Having a fully configurable, virtual CCAP with Ethernet to the node gives the service provider unprecedented flexibility. At the same time, it creates new security issues. The Ethernet network now extends beyond the data center. The remote nodes are processing units, and they are in locations such as office buildings and utility poles where they have little physical security. It’s necessary to make sure that they can’t be compromised and that they can’t be used to compromise the CCAP.

As deployment and maintenance processes become more automated, they have to stay trustworthy. The amount of software which is subject to attack increases as the complexity of the services grows. This is one of the reasons for standardizing practices among different teams. The more consistent the approach to service management is, the easier it is to make sure all of it is protected. Having a consistent security framework can improve data integrity, even when the number of services grows.

Whenever new opportunities appear, new ways of dealing with them are necessary. Meeting the challenges takes some effort, but the rewards amply pay for it.

MEF’s LSO defines seven Management Interface Reference Points, which are logical points of interaction. Learn more on how APIs work on them here.

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