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Prepared by

Jim Hodges
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
www.heavyreading.com



on behalf of



www.hp.com






November 2013
White Paper

The Era of Homogeneous Service
Delivery Networks


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 2


Introduction
Since their inception, mobile networks were designed with two fundamental
principles in mind: to support global mobility, and to deliver a common user
services experience.

While the design of 2G GSM mobile core networks which incorporated the
concepts of home location registers (HLRs), visited location registers (VLRs) and
equipment identity registers (EIRs) were able to support seamless global roaming
almost from inception, delivery of a common user service experience has proved
a more formidable and ongoing challenge. This is especially true for personalized
services, since network capabilities often differed in terms of application support
and subscriber defined default settings.

Ironically, this continues to be a major challenge even in a 4G and Wi-Fi context
since all services/applications are IP data based and inherently more complex.
Still, given customer increasing expectations that mobile data services will be truly
ubiquitous regardless of location, and underlying mobile broadband technology
utilizes, new approaches are rapidly becoming obligatory.

Accordingly, in this white paper we examine how these requirements are driving
network operators and their vendors to adopt new approaches and products to
usher in the era of true mobile services ubiquity.


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 3


The Rise of Homogeneous Service Delivery
As summarized above, mobile service delivery expectations are driving changes
to how networks interwork with each other, as well as even architectural principles
utilized in their design.

For example, the evolution of 2G to 3G can largely be considered as an overlay of
technology approaches. By this we mean: Even though the architectures are
similar, as shown in Figure 1, infrastructure sharing was very difficult in large part
due to 2G being TDM-based, while 3G is IP-based.

This resulted in the adoption of a more expensive "new build" model, and perhaps
more importantly, a dissimilar or heterogeneous model in which services were
constrained and forced to execute in a single domain (2G vs. 3G).



Figure 1: The Heterogeneous Services Network Phase 1

Source: Heavy Reading


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 4


Consequently, in order to take the initial steps to better support ubiquitous service
delivery, new standards-based approaches were identified and implemented to
make these networks more cross-functional.

The key approach adopted, as shown in Figure 2, was the definition of a new
single database, the User Data Repository (UDR), which functions as a common
"back end" for both 2G and 3G components such as HLR, HSS, AAA, and EIR. There
are a number of strong value propositions associated with this approach.



First, data consolidation means that as subscribers roam, or even within their own
networks handover between 2G and 3G based on network availability, the
network can easily retain an understanding of which services the subscriber is
using, where the user is authenticated, and support services such as single sign-on.
This approach also means that adding new data fields to support services or
network monitoring is a much more straightforward undertaking, thus limiting the
risk of downtime.
Figure 2: The Heterogeneous Services Network Phase 2

Source: Heavy Reading


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Secondly, the use of a common data schema means that by leveraging policy
control and analytics, operators can offer subscribers a much richer set of person-
alized services based on application preferences, location and network capacity.

Stated another way, the deployment of a UDR means that 2G and 3G services,
while still heterogeneous from an execution perspective, have a greater likelihood
of being perceived by the subscriber as running on a single network, rather than
two partitioned networks with limited handover capabilities.

Finally, such an approach, while not originally contemplated as such, means that
it will be much easier to virtualize the "front end" components of these nodes, since
they are essentially software vs. hardware based.

While the deployment of a UDR was clearly a positive step, the rollout of LTE, and
the commitment to utilize Wi-Fi as a low-cost approach for offloading heavy data
usage from 3G network deployments, mean that some operators could face the
challenge of running four networks in parallel. In addition to the pure network
operational issues, adding two new access technologies to the network means
that the complexity level of the model defined in Figure 2 essentially doubled.

While LTE will add significant complexity on its own, given a flattened all-IP design,
Wi-Fi is even more fundamentally different in architecture design, since it leverages
small cells and was not designed to support the entire suite of billing applications.
As a result, when mobile subscribers access their applications from Wi-Fi, it is often
more difficult to track their usage preferences and even confirm their identity, due
to the lack of SIM data. This is a serious business concern, given that Wi-Fi users also
tend to be heavy mobile broadband users.

A similar, related consideration that operators must consider in a service delivery
model context is the rollout of 4G LTE. The immediate impact of LTE, which is now
globally entering the mass commercialization phase, is the introduction of a new
access architecture and unique services requirements.
The Evolution From Heterogeneous to Homogeneous Networks
Given these requirements, it is clear that new approaches to leveraging common
databases such as the UDR must be extended to more effectively tie these
disparate underlying access technologies together. To support this new model,
network design is now taking a crucial evolutionary turn, migrating from an
enhanced heterogeneous services model to a new concept the homogeneous
services model.

As illustrated in Figure 3, a major characteristic of the homogeneous services
model is that it makes extensive use of more interactive software across all of
these access technologies (2G, 3G, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE), so that all access networks
truly behave as one.
Homogeneous Services Network Functional Attributes
Although a homogeneous services network is conceptually fairly straightforward,
to gain a more granular view of the network functions required, in this section we
consider how such a network differs from a heterogeneous network using a
number of established network functional attributes, namely: service availability;
service registration; service personalization; and service security.


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Service Availability
In a telecom context, service availability refers to the delivery of high-availability,
low-latency services. For heterogeneous networks, this has been accomplished for
years by following best practices and having a thorough understanding of
network dynamics and performance parameters.

As we move to a homogeneous network model, incorporating pure IP services
from LTE and Wi-Fi networks which follow either a flattened or distributed model
introduces new high-availability implementation challenges. A secondary but
related consideration is the convergence of network and IT infrastructure, which
by default drives a more modular, software-driven software design.

Therefore, leveraging new design models for key network components such as
UDRs and HSSs is critical. One approach, as shown in Figure 4, is to make greater
use of software HSS and UDR clusters, which may contain a subset of the master
databases, but synch in real time.

The advantage of this approach is that individual clusters can be deployed for
each radio access technology closer to the infrastructure to reduce latency and
in the case of 2G network support, simplify the support of legacy applications. For
Wi-Fi, a specific cluster also simplifies the integration of Wi-Fi into a homogeneous
network model, since it appears as simply another radio channel. This is consistent
with the spirit of new initiates such as Wi-Fi 2.0, which are focused on creating Wi-Fi
Figure 3: The Homogeneous Services Network

Source: Heavy Reading


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networks that can seamlessly roam with other radio networks. Moreover, it's
important to note that this approach also extends the concept of high availability
to Wi-Fi, which operators previously had less control over.



Service Registration
Homogeneous networks also expand the registration and authentication model to
be access-agnostic. There are two key enablers for making this happen: The first is
to develop additional software front-ends to support LTE and Wi-Fi in HSS. Once
again, as shown in Figure 5, since the UDR provides a common, synched data
store, adding this functionality is straightforward. This step is now in place with
vendors extending HSS software. A recent example is the HP announcement that
addressed the commercial availability of Wi-Fi offload support in its core portfolio.

A second enabler is the integration of an analytics engine. While analytics is often
considered in use cases for personalized services, this same engine can play a
valuable role in understanding which access technology is currently being utilized,
as well as helping the network determine the next best action when the UDR notes
a change in user function, access network or location.

Again, since this is a common database and HSS, leveraging analytics is less
complex since it doesn't have to contend with multiple databases, but instead has
a clear path to collecting and analysis of device/SIM. In turn, this helps alleviate
Figure 4: Cluster Architecture

Source: Heavy Reading


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the "black hole" phenomenon when mobile subscribers are registered on Wi-Fi
networks deployed by the mobile operator to offload capacity.



Unlike before, in this model, the network understands which users want to connect
via Wi-Fi and is able to collect valuable user data to understand subscriber choice
preferences. In turn, since access handover is handled uniformly, these analytics
tools may also be leveraged to implement more advanced real-time fraud
measures, based on individual subscriber registration and authentication patterns.

Service Personalization
A mobile operator's competence in providing personalized services will be a key
factor in defining future success. Here again, we see analytics playing a vital role
in a homogeneous network. Once analytics is integrated and the HSS/UDR is fully
radio-agnostic, a very broad personalized services model can be supported. This
includes the integration of location data, delivery of high-value advertising
content and tailored loyalty promotions. Moreover, since mobile users are typically
heavier users with longer sessions in Wi-Fi mode, this opens up myriad new person-
alization and B2B revenue opportunities for operators, including identity validation.

Service Security
Security is another essential consideration for homogeneous networks. While
mobile networks have been designed with security in mind, the subsequent move
to LTE, which is a native IP implementation, brings new security issues to bear. As
well, since Wi-Fi networks have not traditionally been designed to support the
same rigid parameters of the telco security model, the potential for security
intrusion and data loss is exacerbated.

Figure 5: Integrating Analytics

Source: Heavy Reading


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 9


Therefore, to support LTE and Wi-Fi additional integration, new product offerings
that can support a number of functions are coming to market to enhance overall
network security. An example is a new breed of gateway that combines Evolved
Packet Data Gateway (ePDG) and Wi-Fi Access Gateway into a single node.

There are a number of straightforward implementation steps. The first is to deploy
an advanced security gateway, which is integrated via the UDR with the analytics
engine to monitor usage patterns for abnormal behaviors or access to restricted
content. The second step is to integrate this security gateway with the policy
controller to be able to apply individual subscriber and application-level policies.

This approach can also drive new business opportunities for mobile operators
associated with providing a more premium user experience for high-value users, as
well as ensuring that network capacity is optimally managed by dictating which
hotspots could be used for specific applications. One example would be offering
a premium and seamless access model for heavy users of OTT applications such
as Facebook, based on mobile bundle package and total network capability
(mobile and Wi-Fi).


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 10


Homogeneous Services Network Design
As outlined in the previous section, the implementation of a common back-end
database such as the UDR provides the foundation for implementing a homoge-
neous services model.

However, although this is a vital step, it's not the only consideration. As we are now
seeing, leveraging a more interactive application software model is also essential.
And in many respects, this approach also represents a more homogeneous
software model, since in essence it creates three reusable technology and
services templates: homogeneous analytics; homogeneous identity; and homo-
geneous policy control.

Heavy Reading believes these templates can be created in a relatively straight-
forward manner and notes that some vendors are starting to bring these types of
products to market. To accomplish this, there is a much greater level of software
interaction of front-end applications required.

By this we mean, that while the concept of software applications (HSS, HLR,
analytics, policy control, etc.) accessing the common UDR back-end database
has been commercially deployed for more than seven years, as shown in Figure 6
the various applications "pull and push" data into the back-end based on their
own specific application requirements and programming constraints.



As a result, although these applications play a key role in maintaining database
integrity, in this model they can be considered as distinct and heterogeneous
applications. Yet, as shown in Figure 7, simply extending software and introducing
a model in which the applications can interact in real time creates a powerful
and unifying model in which applications truly function in a homogeneous model,
and hence a much more reusable and programmable template for dealing with
dynamic data. The value proposition of these interactions is described in the next
section of this white paper using specific use cases.

Another related consideration is that a more flexible and interactive software
model is also a key required attribute driving ongoing network functions virtualiza-
tion (NFV) activities. Given that front-ends are by design already highly software-
oriented, we believe many of these functions can be considered as the "low
hanging fruit" for the first wave of NFV deployments.
Figure 6: Current FE/BE Software Interaction Model

Source: Heavy Reading


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In addition, as shown in Figure 4, the implementation of a cluster architecture
delivers a number of benefits, which when combined with software virtualization,
empowers an even more flexible implementation strategy since software can be
hosted on any cluster, physical or virtual. This not only serves to enhance network
performance, it also has positive business benefits in terms of lowering costs to run
the network and shorten time to market for new services.
Homogeneous Analytics Template
What separates a homogeneous analytics template from a traditional analytics
model, is given that data can be exchanged between the various nodes cap-
tured directly above, it creates a much more powerful way to leverage analytics
data. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, the amount of data exchanged can be programmed based on network and
application requirements through direct communication between the front-ends.
This means a shift from a template in which the analytics rules engine is relatively
fixed to a truly programmable model. Additionally, and perhaps just as importantly,
when critical attributes change, this data can be exchanged directly in real time,
instead of waiting for the next data synch and wading through a sea of "big data."
Homogeneous Identity Template
Similar to analytics, validating user identity through access to most accurate
network data is a key enabler, given validating identity can be especially difficult
for roaming subscribers or customers that frequently move from LTE or Wi-Fi.
Figure 7: The Interactive FE/BE Software Model

Source: Heavy Reading


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Through greater software interaction with analytics and HSS/HLR software, network
operators can greatly increase the success levels of identity validation. Given the
advent of services such as B2B mobile commerce applications, which rely heavily
on identity validation, these capabilities are now moving from optional to manda-
tory requirements.
Homogeneous Policy Control Template
The final consideration is the creation of an advanced policy control template.
While policy control has already established itself as a key construct of next-
generation networks, we believe that its relative network value will only increase
as functionality is expanded.

And as with analytics and identity, the introduction of a more interactive model
represents a key step in delivering enhanced functionality. For example, even
though policy control rules today are already dynamic and even subscriber- and
application-specific, even more specific policy rules can be created based on
leveraging analytics data to a greater degree.

This is accomplished by ensuring that when, for example, a subscriber invokes a
certain application, resources are provided based on factors such as loyalty
profile, user status and performance requirements.

While this type of capability can already be provided today to some extent, it can
be extended to reflect the real-time value of the analytics data before policy
enforcement is applied. Conceptually, this occurs by allowing analytics data to
be shared with both the UDR and PCRF software modules. The end result is that
analytics shifts from a post-transaction focus to a real-time focus that allows policy
control to make changes to programmable policy rules "on the fly."


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 13


Homogeneous Services Use Cases
As detailed in the previous section, leveraging additional intelligence in HSS and
analytics and policy control platforms in a more real-time and interactive model is
essential to meet emerging homogeneous services requirements. To provide
additional insight and technical granularity, this section defines and captures the
value proposition of a homogeneous services network with two use cases: seam-
less services personalization (Wi-Fi & 4G); and network-based identity validation.
Seamless Services Personalization With Loyalty Program Integration
As we have documented, in heterogeneous networks it is very difficult to provide
the same level of seamless services personalization when an application is handed
over or invoked in a Wi-Fi environment. However, customer demand for seamless
services is driving operators to find new ways to federate authentication to support
ubiquitous feature Wi-Fi roaming agreements, which don't typically exist today.

As shown in Figure 8, a homogeneous services network model is well suited to
meeting these requirements, since data is shared among principle nodes, regard-
less of the underlying access technology utilized.


Figure 8: Seamless Services Personalization (Wi-Fi & 4G)

Source: Heavy Reading


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Step 1 LTE Access: Subscriber accesses LTE network and is registered/
authenticated in HSS.
Step 2 Application Invocation: Subscriber invokes mobile broadband
application telco or OTT.
Step 3 Software Interactive Mode 1: HSS shares critical parameters with
other support nodes (Identity, Policy and Analytics).
Step 4 Wi-Fi Access: While broadband session is still active, subscriber
roams into a supported Wi-Fi access network. Mobile is also registered in
HSS binding session to current 4G authentication.
Step 5 Software Interactive Mode 2: HSS shares this information with other
support nodes (Identity, Policy and Analytics). Policy and Analytics confirm
that subscriber prefers to use Wi-Fi for this type of mobile broadband ap-
plication and so directs LTE RAN to handover to Wi-Fi access network.
Network pushes notice to subscriber that session will be handed over to
Wi-Fi. Subscriber accepts.
Step 6 Wi-Fi Handover: PCRF directs LTE RAN to handover to Wi-Fi access
network. Network pushes notice to subscriber that session will be handed
over to Wi-Fi. Subscriber accepts, and handover from LTE to Wi-Fi is per-
formed. Analytics and Identity data continues to be shared, just as in the
steps 3 and 5.
Step 7 Software Interactive Mode 3: Real-time data is shared among HSS,
analytics and PCRF to maintain subscriber services profile.
Step 8 Initiate Loyalty Promotion: In this scenario, the network is config-
ured to trigger a loyalty promotion event (i.e., free content based on sub-
scriber preferences when on a Wi-Fi network) for a 4G subscriber who uti-
lizes the operator Wi-Fi network vs. a third-party Wi-Fi network. The pro-
gram is delivered via the telco application server, with data shared with
OSS/BSS systems as required.
Network-Based Identity Validation
One of the emerging requirements to support personalized B2B services is a
stronger suite of identity validation techniques. For example, while password
updates for B2B applications continues to be generally administered by an email
account, given the regularity of email hacking, a second and parallel approach is
now viewed as required to provide increased consumer protection.

In this scenario, as shown in Figure 9, the mobile network when configured as a
homogeneous services network is able to easily comply with these more stringent
requirements.

Step 1 ATM Access: Subscriber attempts to access ATM via swipe card
and password.
Step 2 ATM Password Rejection: Incorrect password is input. A failure
message is sent to the user with a request to resubmit password. A correct
password is resubmitted.
Step 3 Network-Based Identity Validation Invoke Request: Given the ini-
tial failure, before the transaction is completed, B2B provider requests a
network-based identity validation (via linkage of mobile number in B2B
application profile).


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Steps 4 and 5 Network-Based Identity Validation Data Collection: HSS,
Identity and Analytics modules create an identity validation profile file
based on updated location, mobile status (e.g., authenticated, not on
blacklist) Note: this same approach could also apply if the mobile was uti-
lizing Wi-Fi access. In Step 5, the profile file is provided to the CSCF.
Steps 6 Network-Based Identity Validation Return Result: IMS core for-
wards the latest profile to the B2B application.
Step 7 B2B Application Transaction Completion: B2B application allows
the transaction to complete given it is able to correlate location of the
subscriber's mobile to ATM location.


Figure 9: Network-Based Identity Validation

Source: Heavy Reading


HEAVY READING | NOVEMBER 2013 | WHITE PAPER | THE ERA OF HOMOGENEOUS SERVICE DELIVERY NETWORKS 16


Conclusion
Over the past 18 months, there has been a potent shift in customer attitude
toward the availability of personalized services. As a result, network operators are
now taking steps to reengineer their core networks to meet these new require-
ments, aligned with the services model we have introduced and documented in
this white paper.

Looking forward, Heavy Reading believes there is little doubt that the influence of
this model will continue to grow, as operators take the final steps toward a fully
access-agnostic model, capable of supporting a ubiquitous and programmable
palette of applications that characterize the essence of homogeneous service
delivery networks.


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About the Author
Jim Hodges
Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

Jim Hodges has worked in telecommunications for more than 20 years, with
experience in both marketing and technology roles. His primary areas of research
coverage at Heavy Reading include softswitch, IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)
and application server architectures and virtualization, control plane protocols
such as Diameter and OpenFlow, IP service delivery, subscriber data manage-
ment (SDM) and managed services.

Hodges joined Heavy Reading after nine years at Nortel Networks, where he
tracked the VoIP and application server market landscape, most recently as a
senior marketing manager. Other activities at Nortel included definition of media
gateway network architectures and development of Wireless Intelligent Network
(WIN) standards. Additional industry experience was gained with Bell Canada,
where Hodges performed IN and SS7 planning, numbering administration and
definition of regulatory-based interconnection models.

Hodges is based in Ottawa and can be reached at hodges@heavyreading.com.