Virtualized WiFi

Wi-Fi is everywhere; in our homes, in our work places, on the streets, in the tube stations, in the airport. Analyst predictions are showing that about 80% of all mobile and voice data traffic will be Wi-Fi based in the near future. At the same time, telecommunications and cloud providers are struggling to find new revenue streams to compete with Over the Top (OTT) providers. In this direction, they are looking to create innovative telecom and cloud services and not just remain a dump pipe.

Meanwhile, designing and managing networks has become more innovative over the past few years with the aid of Software Defined Networking (SDN). Moreover, thanks to Network Function Virtualization (NFV) the operators are able to automate their networks while avoiding "vendor lock-in".

Intracom Telecom's solution unifies heterogeneous Wi-Fi Access Points, providing a centralized network management and unified services delivery engine. The providers benefit from the solution's carrier grade virtualization, by effortlessly isolating service offerings & network slices, as if they were running on completely separate hardware, while service function chaining is just a point and click configuration, offering unprecedented flexibility in creating and marketing advanced connectivity services in minimal time-to-market.

Moreover, Intracom Telecom has implemented an extensive Out-of-the-Box network services library (incl. DHCP, VoIP, Firewall, Web-Portal, Gateway, AAA Radius, NAT, DNS, Ad-Insertion, etc.) allowing Service Providers to readily offer new services in minimal time-to-market, while new 3rd party network service functions can effortlessly be integrated when needed. Finally, Quality of Service (QoS) can be applied based on different SSIDs (Class of Service CoS), or based to applications.

Intracom Telecom's Wi-Fi Service Innovation Platform is ideal for Service Providers, municipalities, schools, malls, enterprises, sport stadiums, airports and other similar cases as it is able to configure thousands of multi-vendor Wi-Fi Access Points from a single central point, powering a vast number of services. By using a point-and-click Graphical User Interface (GUI), the administrator can create different SSIDs providing separated and isolated set of services in each network. Finally, the operator can provide innovative services at minimum time-to market with minimum capital and operational expenditures (CapEx and OpEx).

  • Unification of heterogeneous Wi-Fi Access Points, providing a centralized network management.
  • Creation of virtual operators with just a click of a button.
  • Effortless isolation of service offerings as if they were running on completely separate hardware.
  • Easy creation of Virtual Network Functions chains (VNFs).
  • Ideal for Service Providers, municipalities, schools, malls, enterprises, sport stadiums, airports.
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use Graphical User Interface.

Benefits

  • Accelerates the deployment of Wi-Fi network services.
  • Seamlessly orchestrates services across the whole network.
  • Manages Wi-Fi APs centrally in a vendor agnostic environment.
  • Shares infrastructure with service and content providers.
  • Minimizes CAPEX and OPEX costs.
  • Minimizes time to market for new network services.
  • Creates multiple new revenue channels through ad-hoc network instantiation.

Virtualization of Heterogeneous Wi-Fi APs

Wi-Fi Infrastructure Unification

One of the most common challenges for network operators is the management of a collection of disparate and heterogeneous Wi-Fi Access Points due to the hardness of offering "universal" services across the entire network. Intracom Telecom's Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform unifies all the Access Points by provisioning the vendor's controllers or directly controlling the Access Points. In conclusion, the network access infrastructure owner can utilize his/her existing legacy equipment and there is no need for buying new expensive state-of-the-art machines.

As it is shown in the figure, all Access Points are managed centrally using Intracom Telecom's Access Point Manager. The Access Point Manager is a modules placed in OpenDaylight which uses protocols like SNMP and CAPWAP to configure the vendor's controllers or directly the Access Points.

Use Case: Smart Lighting with Virtualized Wi-Fi

Smart City Evolution

Cities should avail themselves of the opportunities that IoT technologies offer on their way to become Smarter. Practically, that means that more and more dummy things will be Wi-Fi capable and sometimes Wi-Fi Hot Spots too. Therefore, the number of Wi-Fi Access Points across the city is increased. As Intracom Telecom's Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform can manage centrally the most of them, there is a big opportunity for extra monetization among the city.

Wi-Fi Connected Schools

Today's generation of students is unlike any other. These little digital natives and their beloved mobile devices are attached at the hip. They keep their mobile devices on them at all times and expect connectivity. Therefore, as our society continues to become more and more gadget addicted, Wi-Fi Connected schools becomes inevitable. Similarly, in the high schools and universities in which the wireless connectivity is vital across the facilities. Intracom Telecom's Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform is the best solution for schools cases unifying and managing all Wi-Fi APs centrally and offering very easily virtual networks like students, teachers, accountants, etc, while giving managing role to each school for its own virtual networks.

Wi-Fi Connected Schools diagram

Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform consists of the following components:

  1. AP Manager
  2. Operator Manager
  3. Service Manager
  4. SFC Manager

AP Manager

AP Manager provisions and configures all Wi-Fi access points regardless of their vendor. Using the AP Manager, the operator (infrastructure owner) can divide the AP network among the virtual operators (tenants) of the platform, both vertically and horizontally; different tenants can operate on different devices or share the bandwidth of a collection of Wi-Fi APs. AP Manager is, effectively, a zero-touch management platform as the operators don't need to configure manually any of the access points or their controllers. Furthermore, it is compatible with a lot of different vendors (like Cisco, Xirrus, Dell, Mikrotik, Ruckus, etc.), thus capable to unify a disperse and multi-vendor Wi-Fi infrastructure. Finally, any new Wi-Fi AP model can be integrated very quickly and easily.

Operator Manager

Operator Manager eases the handling of different tenants in the solution. The operator (infrastructure owner) can define new virtual operators, associate them with APs and assign them resources both on the datacenter (Virtual Hardware and Virtual Network Functions) and the Wi-Fi access network. By this, the virtual operators can manage only their assigned VNFs and Wi-Fi APs, being completely isolated from each other.

Service Manager

Service Manager enables the virtual operators to manage their assigned Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) over their Wi-Fi access network. Each virtual operator has the capability to launch, suspend, disable and scale up or down these VNFs on their slice of the network, independently of any co-existing virtual operators. Virtual operators can seamlessly deploy with minimum time to market any custom or third-party VNF in order to differentiate their service offering.

SFC Manager

SFC Manager empowers the virtual operators to easily create chains of VNFs, utilizing an intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI). The virtual operators have to just define the building blocks of the chain in terms of VNFs and End Points and then to put them in order. As it is depicted in Figure 5, the End Points could be a classifier (set of matching rules) on the one side and the "internet exchange" or a specific physical or virtual network function on the other one. The chains could be unidirectional or bidirectional. Ultimately, SFC Manager allows virtual operators to redirect, control and enforce policies on their clients' traffic.

Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform diagram

Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform - Functionality

Intracom Telecom's Virtualized Wi-Fi Services Platform enables operators to better utilize and even share physical resources, by offering a complete SDN/NFV environment. The operators split their network infrastructure to virtual slices providing isolated and fully secured batch of services to virtual operators. Then, each virtual operator can manage, by their own, their available Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) over their assigned Wi-Fi Access Points providing innovative and profitable services with minimum time-to-market.

The cloud infrastructure management is based on OpenStack, while the networks are manipulated by OpenDaylight. All Wi-Fi access points are configured by Intracom Telecom's AP Manager, while the isolated virtual slices for each virtual operator, as well as the available VNFs on each virtual slice are managed by Intracom Telecom's Operator Manager and Service Manager accordingly. The traffic of each network is routed to the appropriate virtual slice of the NFV cloud infrastructure. Moreover, Intracom Telecom's SFC Manager enables operators to create chains of VNFs via drag-and-drop panels. Although there is a set of services (Virtual Network Functions - VNFs) preconfigured by Intracom Telecom, which are running Out of the Box in this solution, new third Party VNFs can be incorporated easily.

All operations are accessed through a simple intuitive user interface that abstracts the specific device and cloud configuration complexities. Operators are able to activate or deactivate access points, activate services for their end users and view a plethora of statistics.