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Brocade vEPC product targets carriers supporting IoT

Brocade unveils a vEPC product aimed at carriers that want to provide Internet of Things connectivity over LTE networks.

Brocade has introduced a virtual Evolved Packet Core suite of products aimed at carriers that want to provide connectivity...

between their mobile networks and enterprises with Internet of Things devices.

The new product, called Virtual Core for Mobile (VCM), stems from Brocade's acquisition last year of vEPC specialist Connectem. Brocade plans to demonstrate VCM at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona from Feb. 22 to 25 -- the same event where Brocade announced its Connectem acquisition in 2015.

A vEPC is a framework for converging voice, video and other digital content on a 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network. The technology unifies the assets on an Internet protocol service, such as LTE, to avoid the complexity of having to process voice and other data on two separate subdomains.

Depending on the requirements of a carrier's network, the Brocade VCM can serve as a vEPC or a combination of a mobility management entity, home subscriber server, serving gateway and packet data network gateway.

The flexibility Brocade has built into the product provides architectural support to carriers dealing with the high bandwidth requirements of video distribution and the Internet of Things (IoT) -- both evolving uses for cellular networks.

"The Internet is going to be pervasive everywhere, and everything will be Internet-enabled," said Akshay Sharma, an analyst at Gartner. "On top of that, you're going to have newer, video-based solutions as well."

Cisco is also bolstering its IoT portfolio for carriers. Last week, the company said it would acquire Jasper Technologies for $1.4 billion to add cellular connectivity to its wireless IoT portfolio.

Behind the move is a projected surge in mobile data traffic, which grew 74% last year from 2014 to 3.7 exabytes per month, according to Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index. By 2020, data traffic is expected to reach 30.6 exabytes.

Cellular networks and IoT today

Carriers' cellular networks are often used today to connect devices that are in motion, such as cars or industrial equipment. Organizations, such as utility companies, also use carriers to connect devices spread across large geographic areas.

Brocade's VCM, which runs on industry standard x86 servers, can map mobile workloads from a company's IoT deployment to a carrier's network services. The vEPC can be bolted onto a carrier's legacy network, which reduces the cost of deployment, said Kevin Shatzkamer, CTO for Brocade's mobility networking group.

Carriers can use Brocade's Vyatta 5600 virtual router (vRouter) as the infrastructure underlying VCM. Carriers can run on vRouter applications for cloud-based services that replace customer-premises equipment.

VRouter stems from Brocade's 2012 acquisition of Vyatta. The latter had built a network operating system that removed routing and security from hardware, and made them software functions instead. Over the last several years, Brocade has made two other acquisitions related to software-defined networking -- Vistapointe and Riverbed Technology's SteelApp product portfolio.

Brocade also plans to roll out at MWC a voice over LTE application leveraging VCM and technology from partner Metaswitch, a maker of network software, Shatzkamer said. The application provides a "more economical mechanism to deliver voice over LTE."

Next Steps

Carrier IoT opportunities with vEPC

Key EPC issues facing 4G LTE network planners

NFV use cases take shape with IoT

Dig Deeper on Internet of Things (IoT) Wireless

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