Cisco recently announced its Evolved Services Platform (ESP), building on the SDN and NFV concepts already incorporated in Cisco’s vision for programmable communications service provider (CSP) networks (Cisco ONE), and the company’s Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) for a virtualized network infrastructure. ESP automates the delivery of virtualized network services using three components: a services broker that acts as the app store; a catalog of virtualized network functions (VNFs) used to implement network services; and an orchestration engine used to automate the configuration of network resources.
Cisco released a library of VNFs, along with two initial service modules within the services broker for ESP; a multi-screen Cloud DVR service to boost ARPUs and supported by virtualized Cisco Videoscape VNFs; and a mobile Internet service based on Cisco’s Quantum collection of mobile network services.
The introduction of ESP provides evidence of a number of industry-wide changes occurring in service provider networks. First it demonstrates that the SDN and NFV market is beginning to mature; with less focus on the technology details, and more on supporting service provider business needs. Second, it shows how business models are changing with software-centric networks. Cisco is offering ESP VNFs standalone or integrated with Cisco service orchestration. ESP can also be purchased fully integrated into a service provider’s network, or as a cloud-based service. Finally, ESP presents clear evidence that Cisco is moving to virtualize its entire network services portfolio.
Critics will say ESP is another proprietary solution from Cisco, but Ovum sees value in simplifying deployment with an integrated solution. Over the next 2-5 years, service providers will have to weigh how they can best apply network elasticity, scalability, and automation to solve their growing operational issues: by deploying integrated and supported solutions or by becoming system integrators to support multi-vendor solutions. We believe they will push as much systems integration onto their vendors as they can; Cisco’s ESP and last week’s Ericsson-Ciena development and distribution agreement are two distinct approaches to providing this integration.