I attended the MPLS +SDN+NFV World Congress in Paris last week. As in the previous couple of years, Quali was a co-sponsor with our partner Ixia/Keysight.
In light of the tragic fire that affected the Notre Dame cathedral a week ago, it is hard to see MPLS, NFV and SDN as "burning" issues right now. There were nonetheless some interesting trends about the state of the networking industry that surfaced during that conference.
Beyond Hype: Technology Adoption Challenges
Buzz words: AI and Machine Learning had their parallel track, so it is no surprise that AIOPs came up frequently both in keynotes and at the booth. The main application for Telcos is in telemetry: this will help them proactively detecting failure based on prior history. Right now it is unclear if this specific area of AI will materialize in the Service Provider space beyond the buzzwords, but it does hold some promise. History will tell where if this trend will pass the Peak of Inflated Expectations.
SDN and NFV implementations are still in their early stages for most service providers. The slow adoption is blamed on the performance issues and lack of standards, although some of the concepts have been around for a long time. Beyond generating shinny acronyms, we can credit these initiatives for spurring innovation in an industry that is typically slow to move and heavy in regulations. Some use cases have notably fared better than others: SD-WAN as a replacement of MPLS, and edge mobile services, spurred by 5G network slicing are showing good momentum.
Intent-based networking is coined as the ability to drive near-real-time configuration changes on the network based on high level policies. This concept came naturally once you are able to dis-aggregate the network control plane from the data plane, which is the core of SDN. It is certainly top of mind for many operators and software vendors with purpose-built applications layered on top of SDN or NFV.
The ability to orchestrate end-to-end service requests to their final fulfillment as network infrastructure updates remains a challenge, due primarily to complexity. As highlighted by a keynote presentation from Cisco CTO Michael Beesley, different solutions exist but, there is still a significant amount of development involved to put together a complete automation framework. The prevalence of many legacy applications (OSS/BSS) also makes this task time-consuming. Overall the lack of proper automation slows down the entire innovation cycle for telco operators.
Providing the glue for an end-to-end automation
I had a chance to speak during a session at the conference about the issue of environment complexity in the context of Service Providers. I used a plumbing analogy to show how some these challenges can be handled using self-service environments and orchestration.
More specifically, the challenges to put together the infrastructure required to validate the new network architecture. All you need is a good an excellent primer (foundation) and glue to put together an end-to-end pipeline to accelerate the release of innovative applications. Using a building block approach with standard components (think of the PVC pipe diameter), the designer should be able to put together infrastructure blueprints quickly.
As for the end user (the engineer responsible for validating the new version of a telco service), the orchestration system should be as simple to operate as turning a faucet: select a blueprint and deploy it. If everything was designed correctly, there shouldn't be any leaks. Otherwise, quickly iterate with a new version and test again.
5G End to End Infrastructures Deployed Secure and Fast
5G End to End Infrastructures Deployed Secure and Fast
Posted by german lopez February 21, 2019
The promise of tomorrow is here today. Digital Transformation is taking shape at a rapid pace due to the advancements in all facets of technology. One of the key facets is 5G and the use cases that it enables. End-user expectations are high given the new use cases related to gaming, high-bandwidth video and IoT derived interactions. However, 5G End-to-End (E2E) solutions are complex and include multiple technologies as illustrated below.
The networks, applications, devices, services, workflows, and workloads require a level of interoperability that was not required in years past. Network Operators are tasked to automate network slices that deliver guaranteed services to endpoints and applications that are continuously evolving. Add cybersecurity and privacy regulations to the equation and one can understand why automated, test environments are required to test functionality, security, and performance.
CloudShell Pro provides network operators the capability to model, orchestrate and deploy the 5G E2E infrastructure with self-service, on-demand blueprints. The following environment is deployed in a public cloud environment, Microsoft Azure. It incorporates a MicroFocus MobileCenter application which reserves and tests smartphone devices within a local lab environment ~ essentially enabling a hybrid cloud model.
Cybersecurity & Compliance Posture
The Secure and Fast service is activated with both Cavirin and Accedian scanning, monitoring and scoring the solution for security and performance metrics. A variety of cybersecurity and compliance service packs are available for inclusion with the test. These include regulations such as PCI, HIPAA, GDPR, DISA, NIST etc. The following example illustrates a CyberPosture score for analysis and remediation.
Data, application and network traffic performance is scored by SkyLIGHT PVX. An aggregate score is determined by combining three data points into an End User Response Time (EURT). The three data points are:
Network Round Trip Time (RTT)
Application Server Response Time (SRT)
Data Data Transfer Time (DTT)
The following score highlights all three data points as well as the EURT. The EURT visibility score provides network operators with a granular view of how their infrastructure is performing.
The overall benefit to both enterprises and service providers is substantial given the granular view of the 5G E2E infrastructure security and performance scores.
Automate Expedite deployments and custom configurations
Secure Validate cybersecurity and compliance postures
Efficient Visibility into resource utilization and cost savings
Data analytical tools and the utilization of Artificial Intelligence provide additional insights into the organization's ability to introduce 5G related services. Together, the combination of Quali, Cavirin, and Accedian, as a Secure and Fast service, accelerates an organizations ability to introduce 5G digital transformation initiatives.
Secure & Fast will be demonstrated at Mobile World Congress Feb 25-29 in Barcelona and during RSA March 4-8 in San Francisco. To book a meeting or to express interest in trialing this new solution, please visit accedian.com/secure-fast. To schedule a demo of EaaS labs with CloudShell Pro please visit Quali.com
Solving the NFV/SDN Adoption Puzzle: the Missing Orchestration Piece(s)
Solving the NFV/SDN Adoption Puzzle: the Missing Orchestration Piece(s)
Posted by Pascal Joly April 20, 2018
Quali was sponsoring the MPLS/NFV/SDN congress last week in Paris with its partner Ixia. As I was interacting with the conference attendees, it seems fairly clear that orchestration and automation will be key to enable the wider adoption of NFV and SDN technologies. It was also a great opportunity to remind folks we just won the 2017 Layer 123 NFV Network Transformation award (Best New Orchestration Solution category)
There were two main types of profiles participating in the Congress: the traditional telco service providers, mostly from Nothern Europe, APAC, and the Middle East, and some large companies in the utility and financial sector, big enough to have their own internal network transformation initiatives.
Since I also attended the conference last year, this gave me a chance to compare the types of questions or comments from the attendees stopping by our booth. In particular, I was interested to hear their thoughts about automation and the plans to put in place new network technologies such as NFV and SDN.
The net result: the audience was more educated on the positioning and values of these technologies than in the previous edition, notably the tight linkages between NFV and SDN. While some vendor choices have been made for some, implements and deployment them at scale in production remains in the very early stages.
What's in the way? Legacy infrastructure, manual processes, and a lack of automation culture are all hampering efforts to move the network infrastructure to the next generation.
The Missing Orchestration Pieces
NFV Orchestration is a complex topic that tends to confuse people since it operates at multiple levels. One of the reasons behind this confusion: up until recently, most organizations in the service provider industry have had partial exposure to this type of automation (mostly at the OSS/BSS level).
Rather than one piece, NFV orchestration breaks down into several components so it would be fair to talk about "pieces". The ETSI MANO (Open Source NFV Management and Orchestration) framework has made a reasonable attempt to standardize and formalize this architecture in layers, as shown in the diagram below.
At the top level, NFV orchestrator interacts with service chaining frameworks (OSS/BSS) that provides a workflow that includes procurement and billing. a good example of a leading commercial solution is Amdocs. At the lowest level, the VIM orchestrator provides deployment on the virtual infrastructure of individual NFVs represented as virtual machines, as well as their configuration with SDN controllers. traditional cloud vendors usually play in that space: open source solutions such as Openstack and commercial products like VMware .
In between is where there is an additional layer called VNF Managers necessary to piece together the various NFV functions and deploy them into one coherent end to end architecture. This is true for both production and pre-production. This is where the CloudShell solution fits and provides the means to quickly validate NFV and SDN architectures in pre-production.
Bridging the gap between legacy networks and NFV/SDN adoption
One of the fundamental obstacles that I heard over and over during the conference was the inability to move away from legacy networks. An orchestration platform like CloudShell offers the means to do so by providing a unified view of both legacy and NFV architecture and validate the performance and security prior to production using a self-service approach.
Using a simple visual drag and drop interface, an architect can quickly model complex infrastructure environment and even include test tools such as Ixia IxLoad or BreakingPoint. These blueprint models are then published to a self-service catalog that the tester can select and deploy with a single click. Built in out of the box orchestration deploys and configures the components, including NFVs and others on the target virtual or physical infrastructure.
I just happened to be in Paris last month at the creatively named MPLS+SDN+NFV world congress, where Quali shared a booth space with our partner Ixia. There was good energy on the show floor, may be accentuated by the display of "opinionated" cheese plates during snack time, and some decent red wine during happy hours. A telco technology savvy crowd was attending, coming from over 65 countries and eager to get acquainted with the cutting edge of the industry.
Among the many buzzwords you could hear in the main lobby of the conference, SD-WAN, NFV, VNF, Fog Computing, IoT seemed to raise to the top. Even though the official trade show is named the MPLS-SDN-NFV summit, we are really seeing SD-WAN as the unofficial challenger overtaking MPLS technology, and one of the main use case gaining traction for SDN. May be a new trade show label for next year? Also worth mentioning the introduction of production NFV services for several operators, mostly as vCPE (more on that later) and mobility. Overall, the Software Defined wave continues to roll forward as seemingly most network services may now be virtualized and deployed as light weight containers on low cost white box hardware. This trend has translated into a pace of innovation for the networking industry as a whole that was until recently confined to a few web scale cloud enterprises like Google and Facebook who designed their whole network from the ground up.
Technology is evolving fast but adoption is still slow
One notable challenge remains for most operators: technology is evolving fast but adoption still slow. Why?
Scalability concerns: performance is getting better and the elasticity of the cloud allows new workloads to be spinned up on demand but reproducing actual true production conditions in pre-production remains elusive.Flipping the switch can be scary, considering the migration from old well established technologies that have been in place for decades to new "unproven" solutions.
SLA: meeting the strict telco SLAs sets the bar on the architecture very high, although with software distributed workload and orchestration this should become easier than in the past .
Security : making sure the security requirements to address DDOS and other threats are met requires expert knowledge and crossing a lot of red tape.
Vendor solutions are siloed. This puts the burden on the Telco DevOps team to stitch the dots (or the service integrator)
Certification and validation of these new technologies is time consuming: on the bright side, standards brought up by the ETSI forum are maturing, including the MANO orchestration piece, covering Management and Orchestration. On the other hand, telco operators are still faced with a fragmented landscape of standard, as highlighted in a recent SDxcentral article .
Meeting expectations of Software Defined Services
Cloud Sandboxes can help organization address many of these challenges by adding the ability to rapidly design these complex environments, and dynamically set up and teardown these blueprints for each stage aligned to a specific test (scalability, performance, security, staging). This effectively results in accelerated time to release these new solutions to the market and brings back control and efficient use of valuable cloud capacity to the IT operator.
Voila! I'm sure you'd like to learn more. Turns out we have a webinar on April 26th 12pm PST (yes that's just around the corner) to cover in details how to accelerate the adoption of these new techs. Joining me will be a couple of marquee guest speakers: Jim Pfleger from Verizon will give his insider prospective on NFV trends and challenges, and Aaron Edwards from Cloudgenix will provide us an overview of SD-WAN. Come and join us.
Quali is the industry leader in delivering cloud-agnostic Environment as a Service (EaaS) solutions for development and testing, sales demo/POC, training, and cyber range teams. Global 500 OEMs, ISVs, financial services, retailers, and innovators everywhere rely on Quali’s award-winning CloudShell platform to create self-service, on-demand environments that cut cloud costs, optimize infrastructure utilization, and increase productivity.