Network virtualisation goes well beyond telecommunications

30th May 2018
Anna Flockett

The line between what is considered technology for telecommunications vs industrial control and other operations technology applications is becoming blurry. Software is being used in more instances across more industries because it provides a level of flexibility and cost savings like we’ve never seen before.

Guest blog written by Jeff Gowan.

Now we are seeing the movement toward using software for critical infrastructure platforms. Critical infrastructure includes many of the processes, systems, facilities, networks, and technologies that governments deem essential to the health, safety, security, or economic well-being of their citizens.

Central to this movement is network virtualisation. Network virtualisation could refer to a large centralised cloud infrastructure, or it could refer to on-premise industrial control equipment and all points in between. The point is to move applications that previously ran on function-specific hardware into a virtualised environment in order to optimise efficiency, drive down costs, be more flexible, and deploy faster. There are some people who want to virtualise their telco core and edge applications, others targeting their industrial control applications, and yet more leveraging virtualisation for the power generation applications, just to give a few examples.

Where it gets really interesting is when you start talking about the use cases that virtualisation enables. Use cases like workload consolidation and digital twin for optimising efficiency in an industrial control setting, connected and/or autonomous vehicles in automotive, augmented and virtual reality, or just being able to deliver high definition entertainment to mobile subscribers without overloading the network – all rely on some level of virtualisation in order to deliver the desired outcome. These desired outcomes are driving big industry trends like 5G in the telco space and Industry 4.0 in industrial.

Of course, no massive opportunity that comes from adopting new technology comes without risk and requirements, and nothing good comes easy. This is why Wind River worked with Heavy Reading analyst Jim Hodges to study some of the key Software Platform Design Strategies for Critical Infrastructure.

In the report below some of the industry trends, specific technologies, and requirements are examined for virtualising critical infrastructure and critical applications. This paper discusses the impact of mobile technology on IoT and Industrial IoT use cases. In particular the report discusses the role of network slicing, a key component in 5G, on service delivery to connected devices. Another critical consideration is security. As more devices become connected, security becomes more complex – and more important. The paper also talks through an interesting use case that ties many of the pieces together and shows how this new technology can be applied to many other industry verticals.

Courtesy of Wind River. 

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