Operationalizing IT Services: SDN Federation/Operability Orchestration

In enterprise network and datacenter environments, the management of networking devices is still highly vendor specific with multiple element management systems communicating with, and controlling their respective families of devices. With the advent of “open” approaches driving the replacement of these devices with commodity hardware, the cost of that replacement relegates that approach to a long term migration. In the short to medium term, a method of standardizing network management across disparate vendor devices is needed.

Among the challenges of network device management, the most challenging is that changes need be “orchestrated”; meaning, there is a certain order in which changes have to be applied to ensure that the network remains operational. With more and more functionality contained in the typical end-device, this has become a complex undertaking. Vendors have been responding by introducing “controllers” that can manage many of their devices, and orchestrate changes between them. However, also controllers are highly vendor specific, with proprietary communication both north- and south-bound, forming a “mash-up” of controllers and EMS’s.

The solution to these issues is the adoption and use of an open API for controllers that is standardized among vendors, allowing them to consistently issue network management instructions that are deployed over that vendor’s infrastructure.

This white paper identifies the potential Use Cases and puts forth an architectural framework that speaks to an Application Layer, Control Layer and Infrastructure Layer around which to realize a Federated SDN control system.

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