Universal CPE (uCPE) solutions require software technology developed to implement software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) packaged onto cost effective server platforms configured to work with cloud-based services. The latest solutions are taking advantage of more than 10 years of development using a mix of proprietary and open source software to build flexible platforms. The key challenge in delivering the best uCPE solution for a combination of applications is choosing software components that will meet the functional requirements and run within the performance and memory constraints of the chosen hardware platform. This is a growing market and there are many hardware and software vendors that will provide complete system integration services using their own and third-party solutions.
uCPE platforms can be used to replace multiple dedicated networking boxes at enterprise sites from small offices to large office blocks and industrial complexes. In my last blog I reviewed the range of hardware options for uCPE platforms. Before anyone can select the right uCPE system hardware they need to understand the core software that will be running on the platform and the virtual network functions (VNF) that will be required for all the different physical locations to be covered. A micro uCPE platform will support just one VNF. Large uCPE platforms will typically support 4-8 VNFs. The most common VNFs running on uCPE platforms are virtual firewalls (vFirewall), virtual routers (vRouter) and software defined WAN (SD-WAN). Other VNFs that may be required include virtual Session Border Controller (vSBC) and virtual caching (vCaching).