Orchestration and Controllers – The key to making your Software Defined Network Operate

In our previous series of Blogs and emails, we have been discussing a lot about the advantages of Software Defined Networking, as well as the use and advantages of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV).

The next aspect to consider, when it comes to actually operating a network that makes use of SDN technology, is orchestration. Orchestration is the critical function in a Software Defined Networking Architecture which allows network operators to control, or “orchestrate” the configurations in setting up and altering services across a network through management of the devices’ configuration state.

Since the key functionality in an SDN network is orchestration, the degree to which you can discover an existing “actual” or virtual, network element, manage configurations and configure multiple devices in the network, is one of the most important aspects of architecting a SDN-centric solution.

Up until the advent of controllers performing the orchestration function, the issues facing operators were: multiple EMS’s (”EMS Sprawl”), lack of service agility, hard coded service definitions in existing OSS’s, and, with the growth of VNF’s, translations of these services and configurations to Virtual Network Functions requiring a very time- and labor-intensive translation process.

Today’s controllers and orchestration systems are literally transforming the back office with the ability to provide a high degree of automated service provisioning, orchestration and VNF control – without the army of developers. The controller helps to eliminate EMS sprawl, while simplifying the orchestration and OSS. Through providing vehicle to apply a standards and models-based approach (YANG, etc), the Orchestration platform allows dynamically definable network applications and automated translation to VNF operations for NFV “virtual devices”.

Through the application of NetConf and YANG modeling, services and devices are instantiated into an orchestration solution that enables operators to gain significant advantages in reducing OpEx and the time it takes to roll out new or updated services to customers. Operators using this type of controller solution will enjoy the following benefits:

• Faster Development and deployment of new services with a model-based approach
• Approach allows integration of multi-vendor environment in fractions of the time versus traditional methods

o Services, device configurations, open flow apps defined in YANG, a standards-based modeling language.
o Industry standard MEF CE2.0 Services are modeled and can be introduced to the network more quickly

• No disparate Element Management Systems
• Real time, dynamic capacity allocation
• Transition to and management of mixed environment of traditional hardware and software defined virtual devices and services.

There are a number of Orchestration solutions in the marketplace today, from companies such as Tail-f (Cisco), C-Plane Networks, Overture Networks, Cyan, Nuage, Arista (EOS), Juniper Contrail, OpenDaylight, Brocade (solidified version of OpenDaylight. Over the next few weeks, we will release a white paper that talks to these solutions with basic descriptions and comparisons among them.

Datavision is involved with a number of these vendors, creating an overall solution known as Service ConductorTM, which incorporates multiple vendor’s controller and orchestration capabilities, as well as virtual network functions to help complete an end to end solution. More on that next week…

Datavision will be exhibiting at the Metro Ethernet Forum Gen14 Conference on November 17-November 20, 2014. Come by Booth 120 and visit us to learn more about Services Orchestration, Service Chaining, NFV, and Carrier-class/Large Enterprise SDN deployment.

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