The new era of on-demand service delivery

Staff writer
SDN CLOUD Insights

Manish Gulyani, VP of product marketing at Alcatel-LucentManish Gulyani, VP of product marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, explains how operators can leverage SDN platforms to deliver dynamic network services quickly, profitably and scalably 

SDN Cloud Insights: What service opportunities does SDN enable that weren’t possible or practical before?   

Manish Gulyani: To thrive in the cloud era of networking, operators need to deliver on-demand network services that are as dynamic as the cloud services that now dominate network traffic. SDN enables service providers to move to an on-demand service delivery model so that applications can consume only what they need, when and where they need it. For example, SDN can enable dynamic data center connectivity services, rapid upsell of advanced services to connectivity customers and network slicing, in which operators can rapidly segment the network into “slices” for each of its business groups, who are then empowered with the ability to rapidly define and instantiate services and with full views and control of their own assets and services.     

What are the main challenges or roadblocks to enabling on-demand service delivery?   

For a start, offline network engineering processes cannot keep up with the rapidly changing demand and traffic patterns of the on-demand cloud world. Operators are forced to allocate increasing amounts of bandwidth to ensure their services do not run out of capacity or suffer serious quality degradation. 

The gap between service delivery and network engineering is no longer a benign limitation. Service automation must be guided with a real-time view and status of all available network resources so operators can quickly determine if they can meet the bandwidth and latency needs of an on-demand service request in a cost-efficient manner. Also, quick innovation and on-demand provisioning are difficult to achieve in multi-service, multi-vendor, IP/optical networks where application development and service provisioning are complex and time-consuming tasks. 

Resolving these challenges requires unification of service automation and network control in one integrated platform that provides smart service delivery, intelligent network control and the ability to apply both across multiple Layer 0-to-Layer 3 services, IP/optical/Ethernet technologies, and physical and virtual network infrastructure, as well as equipment from multiple network vendors.   

Many operators still seem to be stuck in the trial phase of SDN - what’s holding them back?

As SDN extends beyond the data center to the WAN, service providers are now beginning to put together the use cases for applying SDN to carrier network elements. What they find, however, is that many of the solutions to date lack the feature breadth and maturity for broad deployment, being based on a collection of acquisitions with limited coordination among components. Adoption of carrier SDN will begin to accelerate as leading vendors with experience in service management and in large-scale dynamic routing in IP/MPLS/optical begin leverage this experience to build SDN platforms that take a unified approach to carrier SDN and so deliver the automation and control necessary to deliver dynamic network services quickly, cost-effectively and at scale.    

Every operator is different, of course, but what general migration strategy tips would you recommend for operators looking to implement carrier SDN?    

Service providers need to assess their key pain points and challenges and focus initial SDN efforts or resolving them in a focused manner. For instance, if network efficiency and flexible SLAs are a key requirement, existing VPN services can be tied to path computation that generates disjoint paths for redundancy, or calculates new paths with self tuned adaptive routing to drive more revenue from existing networks. If new on-demand network services are required, they can be developed using new abstract APIs and network optimization capabilities while existing services remain as is.  

This article was first appeared in Telecom Asia SDN Cloud Insights October edition

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