Software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) offer the ability to dynamically provision network services to support new applications and services.
In order to coordinate the deployment and on-demand provisioning of new services, operators will need to deploy automation tools that react to predefined requests for changes in the network. This may be to react automatically for traffic rerouting to better performing network paths or to support customer self-care portals where new services can be created on demand and with automated provisioning. Monitoring these new dynamic architectures require tools that are flexible both in terms of how they are deployed and how they react and scale in these highly autonomous environments.
SD-WAN: a new revenue opportunity
Service providers are already utilizing SDN and NFV to offer new managed SD-WAN services, working with equipment vendors to deploy and manage SD-WAN ‘as a service’ for enterprise customers. Depending on the location of the enterprise sites, this may require the installation of devices at head-ends and customer branch offices outside of the service provider’s network footprint.
Another option for service providers is to combine SD-WAN with NFV to build overlays using traditional broadband access to the edge of the operator’s network, either at an E-NNI or an internet POP. (This approach is popularly called ‘vWAN’.) By tunneling off-net traffic back via network interconnects, operators get around the need to build more head-ends to aggregate offnet traffic and manage remote CPE devices.
SDN and NFV are not without their challenges
SDN and NFV can create challenges when it comes to ensuring you are delivering on your promises to customers. Dynamic changes to the network can create complexities in deploying a performance monitoring solution. Performance management solutions need to scale with the rapid growth of services, and be just as dynamic and flexible as software-defined networks.
NFV adds the ability to offer edge services that were not possible just a few years ago. Edge-computing and virtualization of services will change the dynamic of how applications operate and where they reside in the network.
Many applications and services also now reside in the cloud. Service providers need tools that can go deeper into the network and accurately measure the customer’s experience of the entire end-to-end service. Those tools also need to be flexible in terms of where and how they can be deployed in order to get the best vantage point for monitoring these new architectures.
SDN requires an evolution of service assurance solutions
When a service provider has to deliver services off-net or outside of its own footprint, visibility into network performance and customer experience can be a challenge. Service assurance solutions for SDN-based services, such as SD-WAN, must be flexible, vendor-agnostic and easy to deploy in a virtualized infrastructure for end-to-end service quality management.
Accedian’s Skylight suite of solutions can provide end-to-end visibility into SDN and NFV-based services. Using Accedian’s years of experience in the service provider environment, and recently added layer 4-7 monitoring and reporting for network and applications performance, service providers can fully assure network and cloud-based services are meeting agreed performance objectives. Most importantly, they can confidently control the end-user customer experience.