Operators and service providers around the world are deploying or preparing to deploy SDN/NFV and there has already been significant market spend in this area. According to analyst firm Infonetics, the global NFV/SDN networking market will grow fivefold to bring in $11 billion in revenue by 2019. IDC research indicates that network virtualization in the Asia-Pacific region is being driven by an increasingly mobile work force, business expansion, economic growth and the IoT.
In Asia-Pacific, 64% of enterprises across 14 markets said they are at some stage of deployment with NFV; that includes planning, integration and testing, IDC research indicates. Malaysia, Korea and Thailand are the most advanced NFV markets. Roughly 30% of the organizations are implementing SDN to improve network agility, speed to market and programmability. In Japan, centralized control was the top driver for SDN investments, while lower hardware cost was the top priority in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and India.
While Asia-Pacific is making strides in SDN/NFV adoption, the focus appears largely to be on deployment, fulfillment and orchestration of virtualized services such as virtual CPE (vCPE), virtual Evolved Packed Core (vEPC) and SD-WAN. Little discussion, in this region and around the world, is focused on how operators and enterprises will monitor and assure these virtual services once they are deployed. Further, how will they monitor the hybrid environment of legacy networks and virtual networks, which will be the norm for the foreseeable future?
Assuring virtual services
There are significant challenges involved in assuring virtual services that will be even more difficult to address than the assurance of legacy networks. Legacy networks are much more static and well defined. End-to-end services can be defined in assurance systems and monitored for alarms, performance and SLA conformance. But this becomes a much bigger challenge for SDN/NFV networks primarily due to the increased complexity and more dynamic nature of the end-to-end service. Virtual service visualization and monitoring must go from application to logical network to physical network.
In addition, with the complexity of vEPC, vCPE and SD-WAN services, orchestrators and controllers will have the ability to modify, re-route, and re-configure virtual services on demand, in real-time. This places a requirement on the service assurance system to be able to adapt in real-time to these service changes to be able to accurately reflect the current state and path of both virtual and hybrid services. One of the biggest challenges to support this will be the service assurance system’s ability to maintain the consistency of performance metrics for the services as the virtual and physical elements of the service change over time.
Service assurance solutions will need to be integrated with Open Stack, Open Daylight, SDN Controller(s) and Orchestration Systems(s), and also have the ability to adapt the virtual service topology in real-time yet maintain all health and performance historical records as the service evolves. In addition, the service assurance solution for virtual services must have the ability to provide
- Real-time service analytics, correlation, service impact and root-cause analysis
- Closed loop feedback with orchestration to provide service optimization and remediation in order to assure service integrity and performance
- Dynamic SLA management to be able to monitor SLAs in real-time even as the service topology evolves and changes
In short, service assurance is an overlooked, yet critical requirement for a successful virtual service deployment. Service assurance becomes even more complex and critical in virtual and hybrid service environments. If service providers in Asia-Pacific and beyond want to continue their momentum in SDN/NFV advancements, they should start planning for what they will need in order to ensure a successful virtual service deployment. By doing so in the early stages of deployment, this will help service providers to fully realize the business-transforming benefits of SDN/NFV.
Anand Gonuguntla is co-founder and CEO of Centina Systems