Practical Steps Towards Carrier DevOps

Posted by admin June 23, 2015
Practical Steps Towards Carrier DevOps

Service providers are burdened by more infrastructure processes and competitive pressures than ever before. As NetCracker has pointed out, dedicated hardware is no longer an efficient option for carrying out processes, although it is the reality on the ground for many operations. But that is starting to change.  

"Taking on SDN can be impeded by operations that rely on traditional network configurations."

Software defined networking is gaining traction across many industry verticals. In North America, for instance, a market study conducted by Infonetics Research found that by 2016, 87 percent of responding organizations are projected to have SDN in live production in their data centers. The most popular use cases for SDN adoptions span several key functions, including automating disaster recovery and provisioning. While it is clear that adoption rates for SDN are significantly on the incline, plans to take on SDN can be slowed by various obstacles, not the least of which is the presence of legacy networking functions.  That's not just an issue to consider in terms of upgrading network architecture, but for carriers, it also goes right to the heart of how to ensure that services are developed and delivered with quality at the most rapid pace possible.

The reality is that most carrier IT infrastructures will exist in a multi-generational reality for years to come, with both virtual and physical infrastructure layers and virtualized service elements (VNFs) present in a heterogeneous network. A key part of the path to successfully evolving these networks is leveraging cloud management platforms to enable IaaS and self-service of test automation, then connecting those automated processes to DevOps toolchains to achieve continuous integration and continuous delivery. This is what CloudShell and TestShell are providing to carrier and cable MSO operators today.

Taking on SDN should not be impeded by legacy processes.Evolving SDN and NFV should not be impeded by legacy processes.

Enabling carrier DevOps with CloudShell
Carrier architectures are changing thanks to the rise of SDN and NFV. But in order for SDN and NFV to make businesses more agile, there needs to be more rapid, innovative, agile and market-relevant service development and test processes, which is the point of evolving to DevOps practice. CloudShell helps carriers move down a path to DevOps by enabling carriers to take concrete steps down that path: 

  • Automation and cloudifying: The move toward SDN and NFV can be impeded by slow operational processes. CloudShell speeds up such processes through creating infrastructure as a service (IaaS) that handles complete, end-to-end service topologies so that development, testing, training, support and even customer demonstrations and proofs of concepts can be carried out on production-like environments, resulting in higher quality outcomes.
  • Path to continuous: CloudShell IaaS is a building block that can be followed up with test automation leveraging a platform such as QualiSystems TestShell. Full certification routines can be automated and made available to launch from a portal, paired with the CloudShell-automated infrastructure environment needed to run it. This combination of test automation and IaaS forms the foundation for continuous integration by connecting the process to an automated build server.

The takeaway: SDN and NFV present highly efficient means of creating future-proof carrier networks while at the same time keeping operations costs to a minimum. But challenges to implementation lie in the ability of a carrier to securely adopt SDN/NFV without disrupting the functionality of legacy networking. DevOps methodologies to ensure the velocity and quality of this evolution can be achieved in a step-wise, achievable fashion by applying cloud management platforms like CloudShell and forging a path to continuous processes.