Virtualization Helps Cable MSOs Reduce Energy Consumption, Save Money

Often, the OpEx and CapEx benefits of virtualization are talked about in broad, general terms. But how exactly does the softwareization of networks and service delivery, especially for cable MSOs, save money and make things more efficient? One area that doesn’t get much attention is the potential to reduce or at least curb energy consumption. 

In a Light Reading video filmed during the recent SCTE/ISBE Energy 2020 session, John Holobinko, Director, Access of Networks Strategy at Cisco, discussed power consumption in the MSO market, and how virtualization can help. 
He started by pointing out that energy management is a significant issue for the cable MSO industry, and acknowledging that the expansion of bandwidth (which doubles every two years) means more equipment, which naturally tends to increase power consumption needs. It’s a dilemma that’s not easy to solve, but something has to give. 
“We simply can’t grow energy at the same rate we’re growing bandwidth,” Holobinko noted in the video. 
Generally-speaking, he elaborated, energy conservation can come through a variety of measures. The most obvious is probably using less power and equipment, combined with alternate means of generating energy, but that’s not really a viable solution for the MSO industry. Instead, operational changes to make things more efficient by, for example, reducing truck rolls, is a more promising area to explore. 
And, virtualization offers the potential for significant energy savings, through benefits like the ability to perform one-click activation of new equipment; automatic instantiation eliminates the need to send technicians on-site for setup. The same holds true for automatic diagnostics performed remotely. But, the benefits go far beyond that. 
“Virtualization gives you the ability to scale your hardware much more efficiently,” he stressed. 

For example, in the DOCSIS arena it’s typical to over-provision by creating very large platforms that use a lot of energy from day 1 before the full capacity is needed. Since it might take years to grow into that capacity, this operational practice results in a lot of wasted energy. With virtualization, processing power can be added in slices as it’s needed; incremental growth is much more efficient.