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Virtualization Drive for DPI & Policy Management
Simon Stanley

Deep packet inspection (DPI) and policy management vendors are repositioning their solutions to support both dedicated hardware and virtualized architectures, including software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). The drive toward virtualized solutions is evident across the DPI and policy management market, including systems, silicon and software. The key challenge is delivering the same throughput and feature set on virtualized architectures that is being achieved on dedicated hardware.

DPI and policy management have become particularly important to carriers over the last few years. Policy management enables carriers to efficiently manage their networks and deliver services that are matched to the expectations and budget of their customers. The DPI used in policy management solutions has also enabled advanced network analytics that is being used by carriers to understand network usage and predict future bandwidth and service requirements. Policy management and analytics were initially applied to mobile networks, where data bandwidth and carrier revenue have been under pressure, but are now being rolled out across wireline services and some enterprise networks.

An increasing number of carriers and telecom equipment manufacturers are taking advantage of the systems, silicon and software available to support DPI and policy management. Systems include dedicated boxes, solutions built on standard commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms, including blade servers and ATCA, and software solutions that will run multiple platforms including standard servers configured as either dedicated or virtualized platforms.

At this critical time, the latest issue of Heavy Reading Components Insider, "DPI Vendors Deliver on Policy Management & Analytics," analyzes leading DPI, policy management and analytics systems, DPI and multicore processors, and DPI and policy management software. The report profiles 20 vendors in this important market, reviewing vendor strategy and product features, performance and support for virtualization.

There are several DPI, policy management and analytics system vendors. Allot Communications is shipping DPI platforms that support up to 160Gbit/s for service optimization in fixed and mobile networks. The company has also introduced an advanced analytics solution for big data applications. Bivio Networks supplies DPI application platforms for cyber security and network control. Ipoque supplies software and COTS platforms for network intelligence and policy control in fixed and mobile networks. Procera Networks is shipping policy enforcement platforms that support bandwidths from 230Mbit/s to 320Gbit/s. The company will also supply DPI software for other hardware platforms. Sandvine supplies network policy control software for fixed and mobile networks that will run on either Sandvine or third-party platforms.

Multicore processors from Broadcom, Cavium, Freescale, LSI and Tilera have been widely used in DPI systems. Network processors from EZchip and Netronome are used for pre-processing, load balancing and coarse DPI. Following the development of the Intel DPDK, x86 multicore processors and, in particular, the Intel Xeon E5-2600 family processors have been increasingly used for DPI and policy enforcement. The drive for virtualization will increase the use of x86-based platforms for DPI and policy management. The latest ARMv8-based multicore processors may also take some of this market. Multicore processors and network processors will be used to offload DPI and network interface functions, accelerating virtual platform performance.

Third-party software vendors provide DPI, policy management, operating system and networking stacks that can be used on both dedicated hardware and virtualized environments. Broadweb has developed DPI solutions for application recognition and intrusion prevention. The Cisco DPI and policy control software supports both Cisco and third-party hardware. Intel provides pattern matching software makes extensive use of the SIMD instructions on Intel processors. Qosmos provides DPI and network intelligence software building blocks that are designed to work with the multicore operating systems and networking stacks from 6Wind and Wind River. Volubill provides policy management, enforcement and charging solutions to service providers.

There is now a strong ecosystem of DPI, policy management and analytics solutions for fixed and mobile networks. Several vendors offer both hardware platforms and software that can be ported to a third-party or industry-standard platforms. The current focus for these ecosystem vendors is driving the shift toward virtualized architectures and several vendors have already made significant steps in this direction.

Simon Stanley, Analyst, Heavy Reading Components Insider


This report, DPI Vendors Deliver on Policy Management & Analytics, is available for $1,595. For more information, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/commchip.

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