F5 Networks, Inc. announced this week the newest member of its growing portfolio of solutions for fixed and mobile service providers. BIG-IP Policy Enforcement Manager (PEM) combines the strength of F5’s intelligent traffic steering functionality with a context-aware policy enforcement solution. Providing deep visibility and analytics into subscriber behavior, applications, and the network itself, BIG-IP PEM empowers service providers to optimise network performance, introduce new revenue-generating services, and better control costs. The foundation of F5’s approach is its intelligent services framework, which offers service providers a unified solution for optimising service delivery and security, and monetising services.
Service providers are dealing with enormous challenges, among them, a relentless growth in mobile applications and data traffic, falling average revenue per user (ARPU), increasingly sophisticated security threats, and skyrocketing infrastructure costs. Those costs, along with network complexity, continue to rise for service providers because, until now, they have been forced to deploy core services via point solutions. With BIG-IP Policy Enforcement Manager, they can deliver multiple services from a unified platform—without sacrificing performance or scalability.
BIG-IP PEM is the latest addition to F5’s intelligent services framework. For years, the BIG-IP system has provided core services that are critical to service providers, including intelligent traffic steering, TCP optimization, and DNS services. Recently, F5 released additional components of this platform, including BIG-IP Carrier-Grade- NAT and BIG-IP Advanced Firewall Manager. All are available as modules, standalone solutions, or virtual editions of the BIG-IP system.
With BIG-IP PEM, service providers now have the ability to classify traffic and enforce policy based on applications and subscriber behavior. BIG-IP PEM also provides granular reports on subscriber and application flows, and it integrates with online charging subsystems, giving operators real-time credit control.
BIG-IP PEM has been tested with third-party Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) vendors and is compliant with the latest 3GPP standards for a Policy and Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF).
BIG-IP PEM helps customers:
- Enable new business models for increased revenue – Through its comprehensive analytics and context-aware capabilities, BIG-IP PEM gives service providers deep visibility into network conditions and subscriber behavior. With this intelligence, service providers have greater network control and are better equipped to develop innovative subscriber plans and new service offerings that can be rolled out quickly.
- Improve efficiency of value-added services – To maintain their competitive edge, service providers must continually introduce new value-added services (VAS) such as video optimisation, parental controls, and web caching, which drive up costs and increase network complexity. BIG-IP PEM helps service providers overcome these challenges. When placed in front of VAS servers, BIG-IP PEM not only detects subscriber traffic in the network, it also intelligently routes the relevant traffic to the appropriate VAS platforms, thereby more efficiently using these resources.
- Virtualise core network elements – BIG-IP PEM enables service providers to implement Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) by coordinating with virtual orchestration systems to provision and deprovision VAS servers based on real-time subscriber and network traffic conditions. As a result, service providers can respond effectively to extreme spikes and lulls in traffic.
- Realise carrier-grade scalability and performance – BIG-IP PEM is available on VIPRION, F5’s high-performance, chassis-based hardware platform. When run on F5’s latest VIPRION C4800 offering, BIG-IP PEM enables service providers to achieve up to 320 gigabits per second of layer 7 throughput, support up to 72 million concurrent connections, and serve as many as 96 million subscribers on a single device.
- Reduce costs and network complexity – Because BIG-IP PEM enables the delivery of multiple core services based on unified platform architecture, service providers can eliminate many point solutions, simplifying the network and driving down costs. Service providers can further reduce costs using the BIG-IP system because it enables them to smoothly transition their 2G and 3G networks to LTE and IPv6 networks.
In addition, when BIG-IP PEM runs on VIPRION hardware, core services can be provisioned on any blade, so service providers gain flexibility and avoid the necessity and added expense of stocking service-specific blades.