IHS Markit‘s 2017 Routing, NFV, and Packet-Optical Strategies Survey found that 85 percent of operators plan to create, or have deployed, smart central offices.

The survey specifically look at how operators are incorporating  software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) into their network architecture and how that is changing the way they make purchasing decisions.

IHS concluded that seven out of 10 operators plan to deploy central office re-architected as a data center (CORD) in smart central offices. Additionally, the firm said that by 2023 operators expect 44 percent of their central offices will be smart central offices and 50 percent will have CORD.


The survey is based on interviews with router/CES purchase design makers from 20 global service providers that control one-third of worldwide telecom capex and 27 percent of the revenue.

Smart central offices are simply central offices containing mini data centers that have servers, storage, and switching. Mini data centers can offer cloud services and typically include NFV infrastructure that supports virtualized network functions (VNFs) including vRouter, firewalls, carrier grade network address translation (CG-NAT), and IP/MPLS VPNs.

In its analysis, IHS said that the reason more operators are leaning this direction is that deploying these functions in central offices brings them close to the end-user. This is part of the greater push by operators and service providers to focus on software to drive services, while refining hardware functions.

As operators push away from hardware into software, the smart central office is a new IP edge, and thus requires a class of routers for data center interconnect (DCI) applications and optical transport equipment.

The survey concluded that 55 percent of the operators surveyed plan to move 10 different router functions — such as customer edge router, route reflector, etc. — from physical edge routers to VNFs running within the mini data centers.

The 2016 installment of this survey reported similar findings for CORD, but found that 95 percent of the operators surveyed were planning to create smart central offices.

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