The emergence of cloud computing and mobility, not to mention bring-your-own-device trend (BYOD), has introduced a strong need for mobile virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet, most operators are only able to offer mobile VPNs to larger customers since their fixed-line VPN infrastructure is often separate from their cellular infrastructure.
One solution to this problem, outlined in a recent TechZine article, Mobile VPNs for Enterprises of All Sizes, by Jan Vandehoudt, Principal Consulting Engineer and Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, is for mobile network operators to use an enterprise services gateway (ESG).
“The ESG approach simplifies the network and ultimately streamlines the operational and provisioning model,” noted the authors. “This makes it feasible to extend the mobile VPN service to small- and mid-sized enterprises for the first time.”
An IP/MPLS router that has massive scalability, high performance and carrier-grade resiliency for VPN services is at the heart of the ESG model. This router not only handles IP/MPLS but also functions as a mobile gateway. By mixing functions, the ESG is able to replace the mobile gateway (PGW, GGSN), PE router and border gateway.
The benefits of combining functions into one ESG include massive scalability and resiliency, a simplified network and streamlined operational and provisioning model, and automated service provisioning.
Using such architecture also dramatically reduces both capital expense and operational expense for mobile network operators. A recent Bell Labs study found that over a five-year timeline the new approach is two times less expensive in terms of CAPEX and 10 times less expensive in terms of OPEX.
Further, the study found that deploying an ESG allowed the mobile network operator to offer services more quickly and with greater reliability.
“This approach not only provides cost and revenue advantages for the MNO, but it also opens new markets to include small- and mid-sized enterprises that may not have been candidates for this service in the past,” noted the TechZine article.
The use of an ESG is a win-win both for operators and their customers. Customers get high speed access to key business applications with high availability, as well as persistency of connection without constant re-authentication and log-ins and multi-device flexibility. At the same time, mobile network operators get flexible service definition within existing framework and a simple implementation model that scales from small to large enterprises. Operators also get simplified operations including end-to-end service assurance, SLA monitoring, and traffic engineering.
In short, the case for enterprise service gateways is strong.