Glossary of Terms


ASIC – Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. A device (chip) designed and used by a single company in a specific system

ASSP – Application-Specific Standard Part. A general-purpose device (chip) intended for use by multiple system designs


Central Office – a location in a telecommunications network where service providers/cable operators connect access/aggregation networks to metro/core networks. It therefore is the ideal point for enabling access to network services. Traditionally, Central Offices have used proprietary equipment that is hard to upgrade and ill-suited for next generation multi-access edge computing (MEC) services, but many providers are now virtualizing their Central Offices to overcome these concerns.  See also:  CORD, Virtual Central Office

Control Plane – the part of the network that is responsible for network-wide logic. Traditionally, both the control plane and the data plane are implemented in the hardware, but with SDN,  the control plane has been decoupled from the data plane, and is handled through software implementation.  See also:  Data Plane

CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center) – a project of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) that aims to bring data center economies and cloud agility to service provider Central Offices, improving the service offerings for their residential, enterprise, and mobile customers. The reference architecture of CORD combines commercial off-the-shelf servers and switches with open source software.  See also:  Virtual Central Office


Datapath – a physical set of functional units that carry out data processing

Data Plane – the part of the network that determines and carries out the processes and functions (on a per-router basis) that process and forward data packets from one interface to another. With SDN, the data plane has been physically separated from the control plane that determines the network-wide logic.  See also:  Control Plane


Edge Cloud – an ecosystem of data centers or data center capabilities located in close distance to end-users, enabling data to be processed closer to its source, which reduces latency and enables real-time, interactive applications

Edge Computing –the processing and analyzing of data at the network edge, closest to the point of its collection. Data processing starts at the point of collection and is distributed accordingly, such that only the data that needs to be forwarded is sent onward to the cloud.


FPGA – Field-Programmable Gate Array. An integrated circuit that contains arrays of logic blocks that are designed to be programmed by a customer or a designer after manufacturing to perform complex functions. In other words, FPGAs are programmable hardware, combining the performance and efficiency of hardware with the flexibility of software.


IPSec – Internet Protocol Security. An IETF standard suite of protocols that provide data authentication, integrity, and confidentiality, and that define the encryption/decryption of packets and secure key exchange/ key management


MEC – Multi-access Edge Computing. A network technology implemented in network edge nodes to enable distributed data processing closer to the end users, reducing network congestion and improving application performance. See also: Edge Computing


Network Edge – the area of a service provider network closest to the end users. Depending on the use case, this could include the central office for telcos, the hub for cable operators, or C-RAN for mobile operators.  See also:  Central Office, Edge Cloud

NFV – Network Functions Virtualization. A concept that implements network functions (e.g., router, firewall) as a software package that is deployed on interconnected servers in the cloud for agility, optimization and cost-reduction purposes. NFV architecture comprises VNF (virtual networking functions), MANO (management and orchestration) and NFVI (infrastructure).

NFVI – NFV Infrastructure. NFVI enables the physical and virtual layers of the network, based on low-cost, standardized computing components:  servers – virtual or bare metal; and software – hypervisors, virtual machines, and virtual infrastructure managers.


SDN – Software-Defined Networking. A concept that centralizes network control by separating the network’s forwarding (data) plane from the control plane, which is implemented through SDN controller application software.   See also:  Control Plane, Data Plane

SoC – System-on-Chip . A SoC is a silicon chip that contains one or more processor cores, as well as on-chip memory, hardware accelerator functions, peripheral functions, and others networking functions.


vCO (Virtual Central Office) – a project of OPNFV that offers a Central Office reference architecture using OpenStack and the OpenDaylight controller to support BGP networks. When combined with NFV and access infrastructure, vCO supports efficient delivery of residential, business, and mobile services. See also:  CORD

VPN – Virtual Private Network. A technology that uses tunneling protocols to create  a secure connection over untrusted networks