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Enabling Agile Service Chaining

with Service Based Routing

Contents
Abstract..............................................................................................1
1. Introduction....................................................................................1
2. Huaweis SBR Solution for Agile Service Chaining..........................3
2.1. Architecture Overview...............................................................3
2.2. Multi-Dimensional Policy Control................................................4
2.3. Flexible Deployment..................................................................5
3. Evolution to SDN based SBR..........................................................6
4. Benefits of Huawei SBR Solution....................................................7
5. Conclusion.....................................................................................7
6. Annex: Abbreviation......................................................................8

Abstract
Service Based Routing (SBR) is an efficient means for chaining service enablers as a ValueAdded Service (VAS) that are provided for the user data traffic in mobile networks. The
Mobile Service Zone, the part of the mobile network that provides operator specific VAS,
requires continuous enhancement and expansion for keeping pace with the steadily
growing traffic and the change in type of traffic. Deploying service enablers offers new
ways for creating innovative value added services and monetizing mobile network assets.
This paper introduces Huawei's SBR solution that provides a flexible, scalable and future
proof architecture for the mobile service zone. The solution selectively steers traffic to the
desired service enablers in the specific order for composing the VAS. Powerful policies are
described using a multi-dimensional policy control model which is enabled by the 3GPP Policy
Control and Charging (PCC) architecture. Huaweis SBR solution offers different deployment
options enabling operators to customize their Mobile Service Zone according to their needs.
These deployments remain open for future evolution. The Huawei SBR deployments can
smoothly evolve to employ Software-Defined Network (SDN) capabilities thereby protecting
investments in SBR and providing enhanced flexibility and performance for creation and
provision of value added services.

1. Introduction
Mobile networks are typically separated into two zones for the mobile broadband traffic.
One is the Mobile Pipe Zone, which may be described as consisting of radio access and core
networks, providing bearer services for carrying mobile broadband traffic. The other zone
is the Mobile Service Zone, allocated between the bearer services or the Mobile Pipe Zone
and the Internet, with a collection of service enablers for providing Value Added Services
(VAS). These service enablers include, for example, traffic compression, video optimization,
web caching, HTTP header enrichment, firewalls, may greatly improve the user experience
resulting in increased user loyalty, but may also be utilized to lower operational costs or to
monetize the traffic by providing differentiated service handling.
Typical deployments today simply chain all the service enablers for all mobile broadband
traffic for provisioning VAS in the Mobile Service Zone. The service enablers are chained in
a serial manner as shown in Fig. 1. Since all the mobile broadband traffic flows pass every
service enabler, this model has the several deficiencies. It requires considerable effort to insert
new service enablers or to upgrade existing ones. Every change of a single enabler may lead
to a reconfiguration of all service enablers that are chained. A failure of a single enabler may
interrupt the overall service. Each enabler has to process and forward all the traffic flows,
which increases the overall processing, the traffic delay and also service costs.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

RAN

------

---

---

---

------------User

---

----

---

---

---

---

O&M

BOSS

--- -------- ----- ----- ------ ------------------------

PCRF

TCP
Opt.

Service Enablers

Video
Opt.

Ad
Insert

WEB
Others
Opt.

Internet

PGW/GGSN

Mobile Pipe Zone

Mobile Service Zone

Fig.1 Current mobile pipe zone and mobile service zone

This paper introduces Huaweis Service Based Routing (SBR) solution that provides a flexible,
scalable and future proof approach for the mobile service zone. The solution selectively steers
traffic to the desired service enablers in the order determined by policies. Powerful policies
are described using a multi-dimensional policy control model.
The Huawei SBR solution offers two deployment options:
Standalone SBR, which works separate from the mobile gateway (GGSN/PGW),
Embedded SBR, which works as part of the mobile gateway (GGSN/PGW).
Both deployment options can evolve smoothly to employ SDN means for traffic steering with
enhanced flexibility and performance. The following describes the deployment options and
their evolution towards an SDN based SBR.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

2. Huaweis SBR Solution for Agile


Service Chaining
2.1 Architecture Overview
Huaweis SBR solution is based on Policy and Charging Enforcement Function (PCEF)
or Traffic Detection Function (TDF). It is either embedded in the mobile gateway or
provided as standalone equipment. The SBR consists of three parts, the SBR controller
(SBR-C), the Traffic Classifier (TC) and the Traffic Steering (TS) functional modules.
The SBR-C manages the service routing policies either configured locally or received
dynamically from a PCRF. The TC classifies traffic flows using shallow or deep packet
inspection and reports the results to the SBR-C. According to the service routing policy,
the SBR-C binds the classified traffic to the associated service chain and indicates TS to
forward the classified traffic selectively to the service enablers determined by the service
routing policies. After processing the data traffic every service enabler sends the traffic
back to the TS for the next forwarding, which bases on policies. The SBR-C also has the
capability to monitor the running status (e.g., heath, load etc) of each service enabler
for service enabler selection when executing load balancing in a service enabler pool.
This approach, specifically using policies, provides an agile service chaining, which also
avoids that all traffic flows have to pass all the service enablers. We estimate that the
savings on TCO for service enablers can reach up to 60% for typical traffic patterns.

PCRF

Gx

The PCEF/TDF (SBR) is either


embedded in the PGW/GGSN
or provided as standalone
equipment.

Gx/Sd

PCEF/TDF (SBR)

SBR Controller
User A

Cell1: Congestion

Traffic
Classifier

Cell2: Normal
User B

Traffic
Steering

Internet

GGSN/PGW
LAN Switch
TCP
Opt.

Mobile Pipe Zone

Video
Opt.

Ad
Insert

Mobile Service Zone

Fig. 2 Huawei SBR architecture

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

WEB

Opt.

Service Enablers

2.2 Multi-Dimensional Policy Control


The Huawei SBR provides operators with multi-dimensional service routing policy
control, i.e. with best awareness option. These options are user awareness, radio access
awareness, and service type awareness. The traffic can be steered through any service
enabler in any possible order based on any combination of these awareness conditions.

User awareness
The SBR holds for every user a user context. The context comprises, amongst others,
the user identity and the service routing policy. The service routing policy is decided
according to the user subscription. So the service routing policy is associated with user
profile. With the user specific service routing policy, the traffic can be classified into
different user categories. For example, the video traffic of VIP user can be steered via a
video optimizer service enabler, while the video traffic of regular user goes directly to
the internet.

Radio access awareness


The SBR can also acquire other mobile network information such as radio access type
and user location from mobile gateway or PCRF. Furthermore, if the mobile gateway is
upgraded with new features, such as User Plane Congestion Management (UPCON),
the SBR can obtain radio congestion status. With all this information the SBR can steer
user traffic to service enablers depending on different network conditions. For example,
when the user has a 3G connection, the video traffic is steered via a video optimizer
for smooth video streaming under low bandwidth condition. When the user has a 4G
connection, the video traffics needs no specific optimization and can be routed straight
from the source to the user device.

Service type awareness


The SBR has the ability to identify the service type of a traffic flow by analyzing traffic
from layer 3 to layer 7. The VAS policies can base on the service type determined by any
of those criteria. For example, web traffic can be directed to the web cache enablers,
while the video streaming traffic can be forwarded to the video optimization enabler.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

2.3 Flexible Deployment


Huaweis SBR solution offers operators flexible deployment choices:

Embedded SBR deployment


This choice is for operators who prefer to deploy a new PGW/GGSN or replace an old
one. The embedded SBR solution provides flexible and efficient service routing policy
control based on user context and radio access information directly available at the
mobile gateway. Further this choice of a new PGW/GGSN with embedded SBR function
simplifies the deployment and management efforts for service provision at mobile
service zone.

Standalone SBR deployment


This choice is for operators who have deployed PGWs/GGSNs and prefer not to replace
those. Here Huaweis SBR solution is deployed as standalone PCEF/TDF equipment. This
PCEF/TDF is placed behind the Gi/SGi interface of the existing PGW/GGSN without any
changes for the mobile pipe zone. The standalone SBR deployment leads to more policy
control signaling and additional configuration than the embedded SBR.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

3. Evolution to SDN based SBR


The emerging Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology, decoupling control and data
plane, provides operators with programmable switches and centralized controller to achieve
highly flexibly and automatically networking.

PCRF

Cloud
Gx/Sd

SBR Controller

User A

Traffic
Classifier

Cell1: Congestion
Cell2: Normal

Service Enablers
NB

SDN
SB
Controller

GGSN/PGW
User B

Mobile Pipe Zone

TCP
Opt.

Video
Opt.

Ad
Insert

WEB

Opt.

SB

----

PCEF/TDF (SBR)

--

Gx

-----

The PCEF/TDF (SBR) is either


embedded in the PGW/GGSN
or provided as standalone
equipment.

SDN Switches / Fabric

Internet

Mobile Service Zone

Fig. 3 Huawei SBR solution using SDN


Huaweis PCEF/TDF based SBR can smoothly evolve to support SDN capabilities. As shown
in Figure 3, the TS function is offloaded to the SDN enabled network and the SBR-C and
TC part are left in the PCEF/TDF (SBR). The SBR using SDN solution contains three kinds of
components: PCEF/TDF (SBR), SDN controller and SDN switch.
The TC classifies traffic flows using shallow or deep packet inspection and reports the results
to the SBR-C. According to the service routing policy, the SBR-C binds the classified traffic
to the associated service chain. The SBR-C then indicates SDN controller (via southbound
interface of SDN controller) to send L3/L4 forwarding rules (via northbound interface of SDN
controller) to the programmable switches along the service chain path. These forwarding
rules steer the classified traffic flows to the required service enablers in specific order as
defined by the service chain.
With SDN based SBR the traffic that traverse multiple service enablers does not have to go
back to the PCEF/TDF (SBR) for traffic steering to the next service enabler, which optimizes
the traffic going through the mobile service zone. On the other hand, when the SDN based
SBR solution is deployed in Cloud-based virtualization environment, the SDN helps PCEF/TDF
(SBR) to do virtual service enabler load balancing and scale-out/scale-in according to traffic
load automatically, which is not an easy task in the Non-SDN approaches.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

4. Benefits of Huawei SBR Solution


In summary, Huawei SBR solution provides following benefits:
Has minimal impact on existing investment by utilizing 3GPP standard PCC architecture
Provides multi-dimensional policy control with mobile user identity awareness, radio access
awareness as well as service type awareness.
Eliminates need for over-dimensioning capacity of service enablers by its flexible service
chaining. The TCO saving of service enablers can be achieved up to 60% for typical traffic
pattern.
Enables flexible deployment, embedded or standalone
Ready for smooth evolution to SDN based SBR with enhanced flexibility and performance.

5. Conclusion
A need for continued investment in value added services for the mobile service zone may
be envisioned given the rate of traffic growth. Besides improving the resource usage of the
mobile pipe zone deploying value added services can also provide new ways to monetize
mobile network as well as improve mobile user experience. Todays common practice at
mobile service zone lacks efficient service provision mechanisms that can provide agile
service chaining. Huawei offers an SBR solution that provides a flexible, scalable and future
proof approach for the mobile service zone. The solution selectively steers user data traffic
to the required service enablers in the required specific order using a multi-dimensional
policy control. Two deployment options (embedded SBR and standalone SBR) and the SDN
evolution capability are offered to meet various operator requirements. The embedded SBR
solution provides operator with low deployment efforts and most flexible policy control,
while the standalone SBR can be deployed with minimal impact on the existing network.
Both SBR solutions can smoothly evolve to use SDN method with enhanced flexibility and
performance.

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

6. Annex: Abbreviation
SBR

Service Based Routing

EPC

Evolved Packet Core

MME

Mobility Management Entity

GGSN

Gateway GPRS Support Node

OTT

Over The Top

PGW

PDN Gateway

PCC

Policy Control and Charging

PCEF

Policy and Charging Enforcement Function

TDF

Traffic Detection Function

PCRF

Policy and Charging Rules Function

SGSN

Serving GPRS Support Node

SDN

Software Defined Network

TCO

Total Cost of Ownership

UPCON

User Plane CONgestion management

VAS

Value Added Service

Enabling Agile Service Chaining with Service Based Routing

Copyright Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. 2013 All rights reserved.


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