General manager,Traffix Division, F5 Networks: “Machines create unprecedented volumes of signalling”

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Ben Volkow, general manager of the Traffix Division of F5 Networks, about the company’s win in the ‘Best LTE Core Network Element’ category.Tell us more about your entry in the LTE Awards 2013.

F5’s Traffix Diameter Signaling Delivery Controller (SDC) enables operators to control and steer signalling in ways that optimise, monetise and secure an LTE network for maximum revenue generation. You can find the SDC in more field deployments than any other Diameter signalling solution. It is the market’s most mature product as our DRA was the first in the market to be deployed, in 2009. It’s a comprehensive Diameter signalling solution offering a DEA, DRA, IWF, Diameter Gateway all consolidated into one platform powered by an extensive central network management system that not just reports and displays network statistics, but is configured to prevent network problems.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

I think in part the win was due to our long term expertise in Diameter, which is backed by our numerous live deployments, as Diameter protocol exhibits quite unique behaviour that challenges even legacy signalling experts. In addition, there are several technological and feature advantages. For example, the SDC offers operators the flexibility to configure an unlimited number of routing parameters with content from any and all APIs, so they benefit from unlimited scale. Only the SDC has intelligent context-aware routing, Active-Active architecture sharing state information across geo diverse locations and a unique overload protection of peer mechanisms to truly protect the network during a signalling surge. We also offer a Diameter testing tool for operators to evaluate all new LTE network nodes prior to deployment. And at the end of the day, the most important benefit that we offer is the highest performance and the best value of your investment.

How will your product evolve and improve in the future?

We always engage in deep discussions with our customers on their needs so that the Traffix SDC syncs with their requirements. For example, we know that operators are interested in moving to SDN-based solutions therefore the SDC is already optimised for software defined networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) architectures. But the field is still new and both vendors and operators will be exploring exactly what we need to fine tune, to make a core network simpler and faster with reduced complexity, reduced costs, and maximum business agility.

What trends do you see ahead for the industry for the next 12 months?

In addition to the network virtualisation trend that I mentioned previously, the other major trend I see is M2M. M2M will grow because it will prove to be a major revenue generator. However machines create unprecedented volumes of signalling with a scale of at least 10x more “subscribers”. Without proper Diameter signalling management solutions like our SDC, it can be a disaster due to the unique behaviour of Diameter messages in completely different use cases from human subscribers. We welcome this challenge though because we see it’s a logical path for exponential revenue growth for operators.

What are the biggest challenges that the lie ahead for LTE?

There are so many new and complex demands on operators to offer sophisticated services that require complicated back office support. Unfortunately, this can lead to network fragmentation, which slows down performance. So this is the opportunity to look at network architecture from a different perspective. IP based networks are a completely different configuration from before, and you need to work with vendors whose DNA comes from the IP space like F5.

What impact has winning this award had for your business?

We’ve had great resonance in the market, which increased visibility supporting our work in promoting our critical message for the need for a multi-functional, robust Diameter signalling management solution like the Traffix SDC in LTE.

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