By Bertrand Matthelié on Mar 21, 2013
ip.access specialises in delivering full end-to-end small cell solutions for Tier 1 and Tier 2 telecom operators around the world. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, ip.access has been deploying small cell solutions for over 10 years, initially in 2G but now with 3G and 4G products. They have products integrated in over 100 customer networks around the world, with the capability to accelerate the introduction of small cell solutions into networks irrespective of use case, technology or deployment model.
Small Cells are low-power wireless Access Points that are deployed via standard internet connections and operate within the Mobile Operators' licensed spectrum. Network coverage and signal quality are major influences on subscriber satisfaction and retention, so operators leverage small cells to cost-effectively support the growth in mobile data traffic and cover areas of poor network coverage.
In addition to the small cell access points, the ip.access complete solutions include gateways that bridge between the small cell network and the existing mobile core networks, and a Network Orchestration System for configuration, management, monitoring and reporting across the network.
- ip.access solutions are deployed within mission critical telecom environments. The database they would integrate needed to provide five nines (99,999%) availability in order to ensure continuous coverage and access to the mobile operators’ networks.
- The Network Orchestration System (NOS) required a database consolidating the network inventory, status and monitoring data into one centralized, scalable and secure system. It had to be capable of serving a network of over a million small cell units. Moreover, the database was to provide the high performance read/write access needed today as well as in the future, with transactional demands rising as the next generation self-organizing networks drive ever more sophisticated event processing within the NOS.
- A cost-effective database solution was critical in order to allow operators to test the ip.access offerings during a trial period, or to start with relatively small deployments. Yet, the database had to be highly scalable in order to support the larger deployments of Tier 1 mobile operators as they take early stage pilots to full national roll-out.
- The system was designed around the same concepts as the so-called “brain” within mobile networks, the HLR (Home Location Register) which stores details of every subscriber and their location. Like traditional telecoms Intelligent Network (IN) platform architectures, there is a master database running on centralized servers, accessed by application services running on front-end servers. Consequently, the database had to be plug & play across multiple back-end servers to scale the solution in an N+1 environment.
- Database integrity was paramount, including strong referential integrity checking, as losing data or its full relationship, was not an option.
- Other considerations included but were not limited to:
- Non-service affecting backup of the database and High Availability mechanisms
- Geographical redundancy
- Low to zero administration overhead
- Access to maintenance releases, bug fixes, patches and updates
- Availability of database performance monitoring and tuning tools
- 24 X 7 Support
- Globally deployable and locally supportable through local partners
- Access to database tuning experts and architecture consultancy services to optimise performance in the core product and in individual projects.
- The ip.access team evaluated several databases, and also considered the option to build its own database solution. They ultimately selected MySQL, which delivered the required performance & scalability, high availability and zero administration capabilities, while being a cost-effective solution fulfilling their other requirements. Additionally, the MySQL database and MySQL Cluster are proven solutions in telecom environments that demand five nines availability, powering the mission critical HLR systems of numerous Network Equipment Providers.
- MySQL databases are integrated within the small cell access controller, providing real-time information about the access points connected to the network, as well as within the NOS, ensuring the configuration, monitoring and management of the system and delivering real-time performance information, alarms and various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
- For installations counting up to 250K small cells, MySQL Enterprise Edition is deployed on active-standby servers. High Availability and geographical redundancy are achieved through DRBD (Distributed Replicated Block Device) and three-way replication.
- In networks comprising over 250K small cells, or requiring utmost read/write access performance for the new breed of location presence services, performance KPIs threshold calculation and correlation…etc, MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Edition is typically implemented.
- The MySQL Enterprise Monitor and Query Analyzer management tools included in the MySQL Enterprise and MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Editions enable simple and rapid performance monitoring and tuning when needed.
- Relying on Oracle’s MySQL database solutions, ip.access delivers complete end-to-end systems to mobile operators, beyond access points, enabling them to “small cell enable” their networks. Moreover, the company’s broad portfolio allows Mobile Service Providers to start pilot projects and run tests cost-effectively, and then to very rapidly scale as needed.
- Choosing MySQL paid off for ip.access. It enabled the company to focus on what they do best, investing their resources in the development of a differentiated solution. It accelerated time to market and allowed ip.access to offer flexible solutions to its customers, without imposing major pricing constraints on entry-level deployments. Finally, the features and MySQL innovation driven by Oracle ensure ip.access that the MySQL database and MySQL Cluster will continue to represent a foundation of choice for their next generation offerings.
- Oracle is a strategic partner to ip.access, which furthermore uses the AcmePacket products for its security gateways, and offers Oracle Sun hardware products to operators wishing the hardware to be supplied as part of the end-to-end small cell solutions. Oracle RAC can also be used within the ip.access solutions should the operator requirement be defined.
“Oracle’s MySQL solutions allow us to focus on building differentiated solutions on top of a solid foundation that we don’t need to worry about. The ability to define a cost effective standard solution that can scale up to meet any operator's need was critical to us. MySQL made the build vs buy decision an easy one.” Gavin Ray, VP Product & Marketing, ip.access