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Jasco Carrier Solutions is developing a cost effective virtual Customer Premises Equipment (vCPE) solution for the South African market.
Aimed at ISPs and small and medium enterprises, the vCPE brings next-generation technology in an affordable package to the local market to radically improve the cost, time and effort equation involved in network provisioning and management.

“Virtual CPE solutions are the natural evolution of current physical on-premises CPE solutions,” explains Martin Ferreira. Executive Head of Jasco Carrier Solutions, “but they are very new from a technology perspective, and adoption has been slow in South Africa.

“Many of the larger players are heavily invested in legacy solutions and are reluctant to switch, especially as vCPE mimics MPLS, (which is a strong revenue stream for tier one and two providers) and will essentially phase out this offering. For others considering vCPE, the software license fees are considerable. In addition, moving to vCPE requires a significant shift in operations and people, albeit one that will deliver many cost and efficiency advantages.

“By offering a tailored, hosted vCPE solution, Jasco Carrier Solutions can address cost and infrastructure issues, giving network providers and enterprises easy access to vCPE features and lowering barriers to adoption.”

How does the technology work?

Jasco Carrier Solutions’ vCPE uses new Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) technologies to virtualise network service provisioning and management. It effectively eliminates the traditional capital costs associated with placing CPE equipment at the customer premises and physically servicing it. Even more useful is the fact that a single vCPE can be used to manage multiple vendors’ networking technologies and appliances.

Explains Ferreira: “At present, network service providers require a lot of equipment to service their clients. Typically, this includes a box for a firewall; a box for deep packet inspection; a server; a box for switching to route traffic and a number of additional boxes from different vendors to enable the provider to switch and manage services on and over specific equipment. For every box, the provider pays a licence fee and needs to train IT staff to support the product.

“Our vCPE offers all of this in a hosted solution. All the provider or the client needs is the server – the vCPE – on which Jasco loads all required software, including a firewall, deep packet inspection, switching, and more. This means providers no longer need to maintain fleets of technicians trained on different technologies – it’s all in one box.

Now, instead of a truck roll to the customer premises with a technician and appropriate hardware to physically implement the solution, a single vCPE is plugged into the network at the customer premises. The NFV and SDN technologies turn the CPE into a simple Layer 2 forwarding device that connects the customer to the service provider’s network, enabling the provider to virtually provision the services required by the customer via the vCPE.

* NFV replaces the dedicated network appliances such as routers and firewalls with software running on servers, enabling the service to be delivered using software rather than hardware. SDN adds dynamic intelligence to the NFV network, using open protocols to add control at the edges of the network to provide access to network switches and routers that previously used closed proprietary firmware.

* SDN not only helps provision and manage virtual network functions, it also helps manage traffic loads–e.g., spinning app servers up and down as needed–and will provide the foundation for delivery of cloud services.

Jasco’s vCPE model

“The vCPE is ideal for enterprises with multiple branch environments and for ISPs and network providers that want to gain competitive advantage by shifting fast to leverage these new technologies,” notes Ferreira.
Jasco will sell the vCPE solution as a service, loading the software on the client’s server and auto provisioning services through remote orchestration.

The Jasco Carrier Solutions vCPE is currently in pilot at a major client. “We are testing different hardware and ensuring integration with key branded solutions,” says Ferreira. “Our goal is to tailor this solution to address the realities of the South African market in terms of functionality and pricing.”

Jasco will also sell it vCPE outright. However, this is unlikely to be as cost effective as making use of the vCPE as a service where Jasco’s bulk licensing of SDN and NFV software offers users a price break.

“What differentiates our vCPE offering is that Jasco has deep technology capabilities and established relationships across the vendor landscape, so we can offer the solution at a competitive price point and back it with strong data centre facilities and technology skills,” notes Ferreira.

“We believe the Jasco vCPE will be eagerly adopted in the region. It will provide a differentiator for Jasco’s services and those of our clients,” says Ferreira.