Authentication, Accounting and Authorization (AAA) of users are business critical processes for communication service providers (CSPs) as they identify the user, authorize the user to access resources and account him for the services used. From the early days of Dial-Up technology, operators are investing in AAA servers. However, the times are now changing; CSPs keep evolving with the introduction of multiple wireless and wireline networks. For the CSPs to continuously remain profitable and serve growing subscribers, it has become almost mandatory to offer newer services and more coverage. A few CSPs are still limping along with their legacy complex ecosystems which have multiple silo-ed AAA servers deployed for multiple networks and locations. To configure even one single change in all AAA systems simultaneously becomes a daunting task. This leads to higher OPEX and CAPEX that eat away operator’s profits. Only ‘True Convergence’ can bolster the growth prospects in the era where Tier-1 operators are heavily focused on multiplay services and across multiple geographic locations. CSPs need a ‘Unified AAA’ supporting differentiated services across all network technologies including Wi-Fi, WiMAX, 3G/CDMA, fixed and cable networks.
What exactly operators can expect from a Unified AAA? Below are a few pointers:
4 Must have in a Unified AAA
1. Ability to Shorten Network Roll-Out and Quickly Launch New Services
A Unified AAA offers a single GUI address new roll-outs without significant impact to current operations and in fact allowing deep customization; the operator can configure the service flows as per their necessity. A convergent AAA also supports easy user migration from one authentication method to another and simplifies subscriber authentication across different subscriber databases. Overall, all these benefits enable the operator to shorten network roll-out and quickly launch new services.
2. True Network Convergence: Consolidate Multiple AAA across Service Networks
A Unified AAA allows operators to control various services across all wired and wireless networks access technologies. This takes away the pain of having one-to-one AAA server instance for each service and network eventually saving a hefty amount on the OPEX and CAPEX. A centralized and network wise SPR also adds to the advantages of having a unified AAA.
3. Virtualization Ready
Operators are now expanding their services beyond the boundaries of countries. The requirement of such Tier-1 operators is to have a centralized configuration and management of multiple AAAs deployed at different NatCos based on virtualized platform. In such scenario, the operator strives to have a Virtualized, Centralized and Harmonized Data Center. With Virtual Unified AAA, operators can achieve reduced cost of building networks (CapEx) & reduced cost of operations (OpEx). Other benefits include: agility for quick scaling up or down, improved network usage efficiency with flexible allocation of different network functions & higher service availability and resiliency.
4. Flexible Scaling-Up with Subscriber Growth & Performance Reliability
To match large subscriber base requirements, a Unified AAA offers two benefits. One, it allows the operator to manage and monitor with one single instance and secondly- utilizing the capabilities of SPR to the fullest, which in case of multiple separate SPRs is not possible. A unified AAA must support millions of subscribers on a single AAA cluster. To efficiently manage millions of requests at a time the AAA must have an intelligent load balancing and failover with various aliveness checking.
5. Broad Technology Support and Easy Interworking
With multiple databases for various services/geo-locations, the AAA must authenticate user against various database concurrently, supporting a multi-vendor strategy, avoiding vendor lock-in and protecting investment already made in the legacy systems. For such interworking an operator would prefer a AAA platform that supports 3GPP and Non-3GPP Interworking standards. From the technology point-of-view it should also support both RADIUS and Diameter authentication.
Elitecore offers a single comprehensive AAA server platform that propels the growth of the operators allied with the launch of new services and an increasing subscriber base. Elitecore AAA unifies subscriber authentication across wireline and wireless networks.