Paul Ruinaard (South Africa) - The Mobile Content Delivery Challenge

We are witnessing spectacular growth in the mobile services space. As smart phones rapidly become next-generation mobile computing platforms, they are driving data traffic to exponential levels.

This demand for value-added data services represents a challenge for Mobile Networks Operators (MNOs). Consumers now expect to be able to receive and use large files on their mobile devices: PowerPoint presentations, video files, music, email attachments and so on. For the MNO, delivery of a rich mobile internet experience to consumers - without downtime - can be problematic.

For the MNO, limitations to effective delivery of these services are often to be found in existing infrastructure. Operators need to intelligently manage both the volume of data traffic and the use of their applications to maximise the efficiency and productivity of their networks. The premium on the efficiency of network operations is a high one. Scalability, flexibility, availability and throughput are mission-critical to prevent unnecessary churn.

Ideally, operators make better use of what they have to maintain and increase infrastructure efficiency. For instance, operators might try to improve utilisation of existing bandwidth. Likewise, many are attempting to add intelligence into their service delivery mechanisms to reduce and optimize data traffic, to the point even where the network is able to identify subscribers and their actions, apply and enforce security and service policies, and track sessions.

The key question, then, revolves around what operators can do today to enable scaling of data services for improved content delivery and at the same time manage growing numbers of subscribers. If they deliver on this, they maintain Quality of Service (QoS) for an increasingly demanding customer base without the need for rip-out-and-replace of existing infrastructure.

The requisite technology must have the ability to deliver high availability and high throughput for complex applications in very large-scale networks with traffic flowing through multiple data centres.

To add value, this carrier class services platform should support the deployment and delivery of multiple applications for web browsing, media, advertising, and application widgets. This gateway should utilise smart optimisation techniques to reduce data and control traffic, allowing manageable impact on the network while still maintaining a high QoS.

Hardware platforms of this kind can not only integrate services and improve performance, but address scalability, flexibility and reliability and manage throughput as well. Some platforms - like Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) - feature performance blades that can be added on demand, without disruption, as network environments and applications require increased processing power.

This kind of chassis/blade architecture can provide anywhere from 10-40 times the performance of other solutions to manage the same amount of traffic, which delivers significant ROI.

These kinds of intelligent services delivery platforms, that efficiently manage network resources, help MNOs give their customers what they want. The combination of intelligent traffic control and smart optimization with robust application delivery capabilities allows MNOs to effectively scale the capacity of 3G and LTE / 4G networks to keep up with increasing consumer demand for value-added mobile services.

Paul Ruinaard is the Country Manager for F5 Networks for Sub Saharan Africa. Paul has extensive experience in both networking and in the African market place having spent the last 15 years working for major networking vendors in business development and management roles.



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