uCPE (Universal Customer Premise Equipment), is a breakthrough technology that integrates virtual networks functions on a white box, off-the-shelf server. This allows it to provide network services (such as WAN Optimizer, firewall etc.) to any site on a network.

Lets look at what we already have that imitates the new technology. The answer to this is in your pockets or maybe you are holding it while you read this blog, yes I am talking about your cell phone!

Looking back a few years, we use to carry around a lot of physical devices e.g. music player, newspaper, calculator, camera, watch. After the introduction of the cell phone, all these functions were virtualized and put into a single generic device.

There is a smartphone equivalent of the network- P7 Networks uCPE suite the traditional CPEs consist of Multiple hardware devices in the customer’s edge, which in turn creates complex and rigid environments, increasing CAPEX and OPEX, requiring more space, monitoring and management manpower for each technology and hardware.

With uCPE everything can be replaced by  single equipment. While using Universal Customer Premises Equipment, the same server can be used for multiple network functions. This cuts down initial capital expenditure and overall operating expenditure in the long term. Providers can deploy their virtualized services on a low-cost platform that enables the deployment of a wide variety of VNFs. Customers will be able to scale memory and additional applications as they see fit, on-demand.

Why do we need uCPE?

As virtualization is becoming common across the industry, general-purpose processors in customer-edge equipment have grown with it. Where once networks would rely on, or be limited by specialized hardware to deliver services for Router, Firewall, WAN optimizer, etc a single piece of universal equipment will be able to handle all of these functionalities.

Challenges with the traditional CPEs

  • The sprawl of devices is operationally difficult to manage as it requires multiple management systems.
  • Creates vendor lock-in and lacks unified policy control.
  • Creates an environment with an inflexible set of services.
  • High operational overhead.
  • High Capital expenditures

uCPE is vendor-agnostic and can host multiple VNFs. It has grown out of the requirement to support multiple network functions at the WAN edge while increasing flexibility and agility of deploying these functions. uCPE addresses this requirement by enabling multiple dedicated network functions, from multiple vendors, to run concurrently on a single hardware.

uCPE is a big leap in an ongoing evolution of the network as it moves from physical to virtual. One that puts more control into the hands of the end customer. Moving towards virtualization plays a pivotal part in digital transformation and can result in lower costs, easier and quicker deployment and the ability to move much faster.

Benefits of uCPE

uCPE removes the need to buy dedicated hardware just to add new functions and makes adding new locations to the network much quicker, easier and cheaper. With the uCPE model, network functions can be installed in single hardware where software-based virtual network functions (VNFs) run on top of a single universal CPE. Service providers/enterprises can simplify operation, reduce TCO and speed up service delivery, whether installing new offices or implementing a new network function.

Let’s look at the key Benefits:

  • uCPE helps in simplifying hardware installation and can be mixed and matched interchangeably across sites.
  • Proprietary network appliances and associated skill sets are no longer needed.
  • Gives you a choice of VNFs from a list of certified vendors – you just get a virtual appliance instead of a physical one
  • You can deploy, reconfigure, and change network functions at your sites quickly and often without hardware changes

On-premises CPE deployment options acknowledge and accept that an on-premises footprint (physical or virtual) is still needed. The design pattern should be a turnkey white box — turn it on and forget it.