What can SDN and NFV do to help transform the back-office operations of your business and increase your agility? Part 2

[Uh-jil-i-tee]: n, the power of moving quickly and easily, the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly, intellectual acuity.

Agility: We always look for it in athletics, the handling of the cars we drive, the way performers dance and move on a stage, and in the sense of intellectual prowess, the ability to think on your feet, react to situations, or as our clients all demand, be proactive in helping solve their problems.

It’s easy to talk “agility”, but how do you drive it? How do you implement “agility”?

The emergence of advanced standards, software and hardware tools over the last couple of years have fostered a new sense of urgency in the networking industry. And that urgency is driven by the need for companies – enterprises and service providers alike – to gain the ability to configure the IT infrastructure faster than the business it supports. IT has always been considered a strategic weapon, but how can network operators accelerate their ability to deliver the services and infrastructure their constituencies demand?

Orchestration and controllers used to effect SDN deployment are the key to providing the “agility” to foster this transformation. Operators such as AWS, Google, AT&T, Century Link and others, are adopting and integrating SDN into their infrastructure because it offers them a competitive advantage in driving new services to market, and doing it at a greater velocity. They are also growing their networks at scale, and doing it with much less growth in personnel (if at all) than ever before.

To achieve this agility, we spoke of the issues, catalysts and technology drivers enabling the back office transformation in our previous Blog. So how do we actually get there?

The next generation of software, based on a Standards/Model approach, will go a long way to helping in effect this transformation. To recap, some of the problem areas in the BSS/OSS domain are:

  • EMS for each vendor leads to “sprawl”, adding to complexity for an orchestrator and OSS to handle each EMS
  • Similar problems from multiple vendor-specific VNF managers
  • Today’s static OSS’s can not deliver the service agility required to meet NFV objectives because of hard coded service definitions and translation to VNF’s require extensive software integration projects.

This last point plays directly to the advantages of a standards and models-based approach. Through modeling the services and devices in YANG, for example, you now have a way to standardize a complex set of services, for example, different forms Carrier Ethernet services, that can be instantiated into the network, with parameter changes made in a fraction of the time it would normally take to do in ”hard coded” systems. Additionally, VNF’s modeled can be activated, managed, and changed much more quickly compared to the existing methods in place.

So the goal, then, is to be able to provide a method and system to enable fully automated provisioning, orchestration and VNF control and replace the multiple EMS’s with a single system that manages all VNF’s (and physical, too). This will reduce the orchestrator and OSS complexity, and allow dynamically definable network applications, with automated translation to VNF and physical operations. The system should also provide a common API defined by data models and virtual network functions.

The adoption of standards and models based approach have seen Service models developed in days versus weeks or months, and Device models developed in a matter of 2-3 weeks. This is agility!

Orchestration systems have been the focus of much of the industry over the last 12 months. Offers from Cisco (Tail-f NCS), Anuta, and OpenDaylight focus on the models-based approach. Offers from C-Plane Networks, Nuage Networks, Juniper Contrail and others attempt to not only control networking elements directly, but are also being utilized as Openstack “neutron engines” to facilitate control over data center resources, as well as networking resources.

Whichever approach you select, your ability to quickly alter network and data center configurations with these next generation tools is greatly enhanced. And your ability to “move quickly and easy”, “demonstrating intellectual acuity” in building and managing your network will help you support and help drive your business that much more effectively.


For more detail on Datavision’s solution offerings in this area, please go to our “Service Conductor(TM)” page.

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