CEWC EMEA conference this year was a great place to meet many familiar faces, especially from the service provider community. We were also able to meet some new faces, as this year SDN and NFV conference was held in parallel with the Carrier Ethernet show.
Many are wondering – how are the two topics related? One is comprised of novel concepts, like how to virtualize some of the inline network functionality while running it on COTS servers at the data center. The other is the de-facto emerging transport technology in the market today – i.e. Carrier Ethernet.
Most service providers have stopped the investments in the old SONET/ SDH, and are now evolving their networks to packet based transport network. With the evolution of the MEF services to CE2.0 more options are available to operators for improving their offerings.
The answer was nicely phrased by one of the participants… there will be a point where the “rubber meets the road”, where the data is leaving the virtual domain and moving into the physical domain – the transport network acting as that connection point.
No wonder both conferences were held at the same time, attracting the same people and even discussing some of the joint challenges. This is because the future success of NFV and SDN within the service provider’s environment has to be tightly coupled with the underlying transport technologies.
What requirements for running some of the networking functions at a remote location will be imposed on the transport network?
The first is higher capacity, i.e. 10GE to the demarcation.
As many networking functions will relocate from the customer premises and the enterprise, the result will be that more bytes will have to traverse the transport network, either as control traffic between the end device and the virtual service, or as customer traffic where a portion of it was previously handled or even dropped by the dedicated customer appliance and is now only handled deeper in the network (depending on where the NFV resides).
The second requirement is an increase in demand for SLA assurance and measurements.
When extracting an inline function from the enterprise and pushing it into the service provider network, the delay and packet loss of the network has to be monitored in real time as major changes in these parameters may drastically impact the networking functions’ processes. Monitoring loss and delay will help assure the application’s health and identify degradation of these service parameters. While more and more services are moving out from the enterprise, the availability and QoE still has to remain the same, otherwise the customers will drop this new technology.
NFV will also mark a new area in the number of services the carriers and service providers will be able to provide and the time to market (TTM) for which these services will be launched (mainly because of the shift from hardware-based services to software-based services). These services will pose new quality requirements for the networks, some of them more complex, forcing the network to provide highly granular HQoS.
While these new technologies have brought new spirit to the telecom market, and carriers are starting to check how they can take advantage of them, we’re still 2-5 years away from major commercial deployments. So the short term concern is how to make current network investments future proof.
This solution will help to prepare our customers with NFV ready networks.