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Super PoPs - the smartphone of the network infrastructure

21 Mar 2022
Andy Linham-alt

Andy Linham

Senior Strategy Manager for Fixed Connectivity, Vodafone Business

Smartphones are awesome. There’s no debating it. We are now walking around with enough intelligence in our pockets to get a man to the moon but that wasn’t always the case.

At Vodafone, we recently sponsored the world’s most extensive mobile phone museum. A quick look at some of the handsets on display is enough to make you realise how far we’ve come and it made me think about the remarkable progression of our networks too.

The mobile handset evolution

Cast your mind back to the first generations of mobile phones. They were designed to do one thing, and one thing only. To let people make and receive phone calls. No text messages, no calculator, no email – no apps of any kind.

Today’s smartphones are very different. How good they are at making a call is one of a thousand things that we consider when choosing a model. And it’s pretty far down the list. We now look at the quality of the camera, how much storage it has and how fast it can stream online content.

The bottom line is that smartphones have evolved to a point where they now do lots of things very well.

And here’s where we can draw parallels to the fixed network.

What is a super PoP?

If you read my last blog you’ll be familiar with the concept of a Point of Presence, or a PoP. This is where we connect customers to the cloud. PoPs are typically located in data centres or buildings with large amounts of available power and lots of physical security.

Traditional PoPs were a bit like the first mobile phones – they had one job to do, and they did it really well. Their job was to connect customers to their information by passing traffic as quickly as possible to the next device in the network.

The world has evolved, and we now have a much more intelligent network. To maximise the intelligence, we have defined a new architecture based around Super PoPs.

A Super PoP takes the network capabilities of a PoP and elevates them to the next level. At our Super PoP sites, we will still perform the traditional role of the PoP – and to even better levels of performance and reliability – but we will also deliver new capabilities.

This includes improving the performance of applications by giving local access to cloud providers and deploying SD-WAN gateways that allow traffic to cross a secure border between the Internet and private networks, optimising the data journey and improving the responsiveness of applications.

Super PoPs can also provide Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) services that embed the customer’s security policy into the very fabric of the network. This has a huge positive impact on an organisation’s ability to secure its data for workers operating in a hybrid model.

Finally, we can enable the use of Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), improving the performance and security of customer applications, running either at the edge of the network, in the cloud or in the data centre.

The heart of the network

Doing the same jobs as its predecessors, plus a wealth of additional services, Super PoPs will soon become the beating heart of the network supporting the next generation of user experiences.

They are key to creating more intelligent networks and this has massive benefits for businesses everywhere. Your network and everything within it will work faster and your traffic will be more secure.

As businesses strive to be fit for the future, the makeup of the network will be a defining factor.

Positioned as a leader in Gartner’s 2022 Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, we’re working hard to build the best global network.

Find out how we can support you and your business to build the foundations for the world of tomorrow.

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