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What Is SDN Network?

The future of cable access technology is virtualized software. Harmonic’s patented CableOS™ technologies bring Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) to the cable access space, providing the market’s first-ever software-based cable modem termination system (CMTS).

Software-Based Networking commonly called Software-Defined Networking (SDN); New access technologies increasing the capacity on existing and new network deployments; Virtualization techniques to reduce the amount of equipment needed to provide services and manage network components.

Harmonic’s new CableOS system is among the first software-based Converged Cable Access Platform systems or CCAP. Developed for cable operators interested in deploying new IP-based data, video and voice services, Harmonic says that a converged platform may help resolve space and power constraints in the headend and hub, increase infrastructure scalability and agility, and save costs.

SDN Network for Virtualized Services

sdn network

Before discussing CableOS, we should understand the SDN system. Actually the virtualizing services traditionally provided by physical hardware in the home network is a popular topic for conferences, papers, and magazines. There are conferences dedicated to Network Function Virtualization (NFV) as a way to solve the hardware-based cycle of deploying new services. While NFV provides a method for creating network services in the cloud, we still need to get the traffic to them.

Using SDN as the way to route traffic to virtual network functions provides an opportunity to optimize the underlying network configuration in real-time. The following is an example of one way to accomplish this:

  1. Consumer device comes on-line and sends a “wake-up” message to the management controller (MC);
  2. The MC looks up the device in the customer catalog and determines what services are available to the customer;
  3. The MC communicates with the SDN controller (SC) to determine where the services are located;
  4. The SC communicates with the NFV controller (NC) notifying it that the consumer device is online and ready to transmit;
  5. The NC looks up the services in the available product catalog and notifies the NFV orchestrator (NO) of a need for those services;
  6. The NO finds available compute, network and storage resources to meet the needs of the consumer and passes the information back up to the NC;
  7. The NC creates the Service Function Chain (SFC) for the requested services and passes the entry point to the SC;
  8. The SC computes the optimal path for the consumer devices of the SFC;
  9. The consumer device sends data to the SFC entry point for transit through the virtual network.

Benefits of SDN

Centralized Provisioning

One of the main advantages granted by SDN is the ability to manage a network from a centralized perspective. In a nutshell,  SDN virtualizes both the data and control planes allowing the user to provision physical and virtual elements from one location. This is extremely useful as traditional infrastructure can be difficult to monitor especially if there are lots of disparate systems that need to managed individually. SDN eliminates this barrier and allows an administrator to drill up and down at will.


A good side effect of centralized provisioning is that SDN gives the user more scalability. By having the ability to provision resources at will you can change your network infrastructure at a moment’s notice. The difference in scalability is remarkable when compared to that of a traditional network setup where resources need to be purchased and configured manually.


Even though the movement towards virtualization has made it more difficult for administrators to secure their networks against external threats, it has brought with it a massive advantage. An SDN controller provides a centralized location for the administrator to control the entire security of the network. While this comes at the cost of making the SDN controller a target, it provides users with a clear perspective of their infrastructure through which they can manage the security of their entire network.

Reduced Hardware Footprint

Deploying SDN allows an administrator to optimize hardware usage and work more efficiently. The user can assign active hardware with a new purpose at will. This means that resources can be shared with relative ease. This beats a legacy-driven network where hardware is confined to a single purpose.


What is CableOS?


Patrick Harshman, president, and CEO at Harmonic said, “Today’s cable operators have a great opportunity as they introduce gigabit broadband services,” said. “The software-based CableOS is an effort to supply tools to take advantage of that opportunity, as well as gain the benefits associated with distributed access architecture.”

In Fact Harmonic is the world’s first virtualized cable access network, Harmonic CableOS solution brings faster internet speeds to consumers while simultaneously reducing the space, power and other cost constraints that typically impede growth for cable operators.

Running on a 1-RU Intel x86 server, the software eliminates the need to purchase space-consuming and expensive hardware-based CMTS platforms, allowing operators to break away from the cycle of needing to upgrade hardware every three years to accommodate capacity growth requirements. Regular CableOS software upgrades accelerate the introduction of new features, including next-generation standards, DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities, and capacity is gained simply by adding new 1-RU servers.

Many cable operators are in the process of replacing their old cable modem termination systems (CMTS) with CCAP. However, CCAP was originally conceived as another (large) piece of hardware. A virtual CCAP takes the technology to the next level with the goal of modular pieces and parts that can be virtualized and run on generic hardware.

CableOS Features

Greater agility:

CableOS Core software runs on an Intel® x86-based server, so you no longer need to purchase space-consuming and expensive hardware-based CMTS platforms, and you can break away from the cycle of needing to upgrade hardware every three years to accommodate your capacity growth requirements.

Improved feature velocity:

Regular CableOS software upgrades help you accelerate the introduction of new features, including high-layer DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities, and make capacity gains simply by adding new 1-RU servers. CableOS also aligns with industry virtualization initiatives, enabling greater operational elasticity and orchestration.

Capex savings:

CableOS supports centralized and distributed cable access architectures that enable the fast deployment of your IP-based and legacy data, video, and voice services. CableOS saves up to 75% on space and power costs in a centralized deployment and up to 90% in a distributed deployment.

Support for multiple use cases

– Migrate to software and NFV-based cable access architecture
– Migrate to a deep fiber or digital fiber architecture
– Deploy gigabit services
– Reduce space and power consumption in your headend and hub
– Reclaim equipment from small remote hubs to a centralized facility
– Scale from a small operation to one that can support 100+ service groups

Greater capacity and lower space requirements:

Featuring the industry’s first software-based CMTS and end-to-end Remote PHY architecture, Harmonic’s CableOS solution allows you to deliver high-speed IP services – but with reduced space and power requirements. CableOS saves up to 90% on space, power and cooling costs in a variety of deployment architectures.

End-to-end Remote PHY solution:

If you are seeking to deploy a fiber deep network that can support both IP and legacy services, Harmonic’s CableOS solution can help you simplify the migration.

In addition to moving RF components out of the headend and into the field, decoupling the CCAP core from the physical layer in a Remote PHY architecture leverages the benefits of digital fiber, such as signal transport over much longer distances, more wavelengths, and improved signal quality.

Lowering broadband delivery costs:

The CableOS solution enables migration to multi-gigabit broadband capacity and the fast deployment of DOCSIS 3.1 data, video and voice services. It also resolves space and power constraints in the headend and hub, eliminates dependence on hardware upgrade cycles and reduces the total cost of ownership. With its multi-dimensional scalability, the CableOS platform even allows you to cost-effectively grow from a small number of service groups to over a hundred, simply by adding 1-RU servers.


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