Nick Kucharewski, Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Infrastructure and Networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and John Harrsen, Senior Director, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Software-defined networking (SDN), as a concept, aims to increase efficiency and performance to network infrastructure by adding extensibility to legacy networking control planes. SDN disaggregates the control plane into a local and centrally controlled element so operators can more easily maintain and view all elements in the network, read their status, and push configuration updates to each respective element.
SDN controllers were first programmed by network operators and used to configure network fabrics implementing end-to-end resource control scaled to application-specific requirements. Today, those app-based requirements have continued to grow and diversify the programming needed to maintain network performance and efficiency targets.
The applications running on SDN controllers, provided with a set of policies based on network requirements, can continuously optimize network efficiency, performance, and reliability by extracting and processing data from each network element and dynamically providing configuration updates. Beyond controllers, SDN applications that can be managed exclusively in the cloud, have emerged. Cloud-based SDN applications can further optimize performance across one or many networks, by reading and processing data from multiple networks and leveraging machine learning to anticipate operation conditions and perform remediation ahead of issues.
As a technology, WiFi has traversed a similar evolutionary path, transitioning to become an essential high-performance, feature-rich networking service for connecting most of today’s modern connected devices. The rapid growth in WiFi networking for home and enterprise creates opportunities for a new control and management paradigm that builds on the SDN concepts developed in the last ten years.
Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) are deployed in enterprises, universities, homes, and a diverse array of public venues. These are expected to maintain QoS demands of a wide range of network services across a diverse array of clients over a dynamic and changing network topology comprised of wireless links.
SDN can offer a centralized view of network channel conditions, attached clients, mesh mode configurations, and the applications running on the network
Maintaining high performance in such an application requires agile network management and software automated control. SDN can deliver on these advantages. SDN can offer a centralized view of network channel conditions, attached clients, mesh mode configurations, and the applications running on the network. From this vantage point, the SDN controller, located locally or in the cloud, can orchestrate the WLAN network resources to optimally accommodate a diverse set of applications such as HDTV, AR/VR, IoT, and internet browsing, while observing and remediating changing network conditions. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., was a leader in applying SDN for WiFi with the launch of its Qualcomm ® Mesh Networking Platform, highlighted by its WiFi Self Organizing Network (SON) technology. Qualcomm® WiFi SON is designed to provide broadband carriers a platform to deploy reliable, optimized, and high-performance whole-home WiFi networking coverage in a mesh WiFi network architecture.
WiFi SON uses software automation to monitor and maintain network performance, easing the challenge of network management for the consumer. WiFi SON is also designed to support a disaggregated network control model where broadband carriers can run remote or cloud-based security, mesh, smart device control, network diagnostics, analytics, or troubleshooting applications.
Additionally, WiFi SON is designed to provide a set of APIs that enabled 3rd party WLAN solution developers to design adaptive wireless connectivity applications that lower latency, increase throughput, and adapt the network based on observed usage modeling.
Qualcomm Technologies’ Mesh Networking Platforms, Qualcomm ® Networking Pro Series Platforms, and many other infrastructure products embrace SDN’s disaggregated network control model. By providing efficient access and distribution of network information, while enabling local or cloud-based access point resource control, Qualcomm Technologies’ network infrastructure solutions can adapt to continuously meet user performance expectations as network conditions change and clients increase and diversify.