Operationalizing SDN and NFV networks
Leading practices in a virtual environment
A revolution is sweeping through the telecommunications world, leading to possibly one of the biggest upheavals in the hundred plus year old industry. Telecommunication networks are migrating from traditional hardware and appliance-centric deployments to cloud-based deployments, with software as the critical component of all network functionality. At the heart of this revolution are two technologies: Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and Software Defined Networking (SDN), both of which aim at virtualizing network applications as well as the network connectivity. Both these technologies, and the interaction between them, have been undergoing trials over the past few years, and new standards as well as architecture options have begun to emerge.
The industry metamorphosis towards NFV and SDN platforms has been gaining significant momentum over the past two years. Although 2014 has seen a focused increase in Proof of Concept and lab trials undertaken between vendors and service providers, most efforts have been focused on defining the architecture and technology with little emphasis on routine operations. A significant impact of NFV and SDN implementation will be negating the need for vendor-specific, and/or service-specific network management tools that service providers having been using to configure, monitor, and troubleshoot their networks. Service providers have made massive investments in people and processes centered on these proprietary tools and technology, thus creating multiple organizational silos. Operations will need to evolve from service/operational silos to standardized cross services operations management.
As service providers begin work to integrate NFV and SDN alongside legacy networks, appropriate operational structures will also need to be created. A renewed organizational paradigm and re-designed operations processes enabled by a flexible MANO and standardized set of tools will be key to unlocking the benefits of NFV and SDN in a traditional service provider environment.