The Trends of uCPE
uCPE (Universal Customer Premises Equipment) is currently considered as the most dynamic use cases of NFV (Network Function Virtualization), largely or partially due to the growth of MSP (Managed Service Provider) and MSSP (Managed Security Service Providers). The growing reliance on MSP and MSSP indicates the enterprise IT has recently shifted its focus from a CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) approach to an OPEX (Operating Expenses) oriented budgeting.
On the other hand, uCPE simplifies network infrastructure by adopting a general purpose hardware, usually Intel® x86 based, to run multiple VNFs (Virtualized Network Functions) as IT services. The expenses of funds, times, and labors for the maintenances of specialized proprietary hardware is no longer needed. This is the tipping point that uCPE has been widely adopted by enterprises, especially for branch offices.
For any additional network function on demand in SaaS (Software as a Service) form, the open architecture nature of Intel® x86 based hardware appliance provides wide compatibility and interoperability so that IT management staff can implement a new VNF, or configure, modify, replace or delete an existing network function, by remotely clicking on the virtualized interface. In fact, whenever a new function is added, an existing function is updated or deleted, the white-box remains unchanged. No replacement or investment of additional hardware is necessary.
Today, enterprises are adopting uCPE as the agile and flexible way to respond to network service on demand. Most of the uCPE deployments are applied in VoIP, branch network routing, WAN acceleration and zero-touch provisioning.
uCPE v.s. vCPE
The term was first introduced by AT&T in 2016. The VNF and the CPE appliance reside at the customer site and the IT team members offered the visibility to the control and management of the uCPE. Without centralized architecture, uCPE is deployed to reach ultimate utilization and efficiency balance for customers.
It generally indicates a software-defined CPE without the uses of proprietary hardware and circuit. In other words, a white-box with VNF on top of it. Cloud CPE is a widely adopted use case of vCPE.
The uCPE Device - NCA-4010
Since uCPE resides at customer site to run various VNFs, the white-box (sometimes grey-box) hardware platform shall be empowered by high-performance Intel® processor to accelerate the processing performance of multiple network functions. For instance, Lanner NCA-4010, recently collaborated with ENEA to deploy uCPE as network edge solution, provides the needed hardware qualities to run multiple VNFs. The CPE appliance is driven by Intel® Xeon® D-1500 SoC and DDR4 memory at 2400 MHz, while delivering maximum of 16 GbE RJ-45 ports and two (2) 10G SFP+ ports. This specification set can efficiently perform as the uCPE to run various network functions at very low latencies.