Such networks rely on a wide variety of hardware and software, which brings logistical challenges in deployment and obsolescence management issues as systems change. Today’s deployable network solutions comprise routers, CPUs, ethernet switches and various firewalls, which easily add up to 50kg or more, requiring a vehicle for transportation and a small team to lift.
We have now demonstrated a ‘Virtual Core Network’. By using network function virtualisation, we have virtualised into software those network components that are traditionally implemented through hardware, allowing you to deploy core networking components in a semi-ruggedised server. While retaining the same functionality as current systems, this new solution boasts a smaller size and weight that could be loaded into different form factors, easily fitting into the standard server racks commonly installed in military aircraft or forward tactical vehicles. It is also designed to NATO standards.
We’ve now provided NATO-standard military battlefield networks run from a small server box, reducing set up time and costs. Dave Sullivan, Lead Engineer, Tactical Communications
Using a plug and play approach, during operations this virtual core network would be configured once, and deployed as a zero-touch solution, able to automatically handle communication nodes disappearing from the network due to attrition or logistics. As a software-based solution it is future proof, with upgrades to capability possible through software rather than hardware changes. The solution mirrors the approach now taken in the commercial software market, where virtual software networks provide the opportunity for future innovation.
We will continue to develop our solution further, which could either be used to update existing in-service functionality or to provide a completely new ready-made capability.