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    Service Assurance - The Answer Operators Have Been Looking For

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jan 18, 2017 9:08:15 AM

    Today's networks are currently experiencing a movement towards virtualization as it offers the improved agility and flexibility required to keep pace with the growing demands for services. For service providers trying to get ahead of their network, assuring end-to-end services should not be an afterthought.

    CENX's CTO, Chris Purdy, highlights the importance of assuring services across combined physical and virtualized infrastructure: 


    Chris and the rest of the CENX team will be attending Mobile World Congress 2017 where we’ll be discussing how CENX enables service providers to simplify their operations by correlating all real-time network data into a single pane. Interested in learning more? Schedule your personal demo now!

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    Topics: Software-Defined Networking, Network Functions Virtualization, Service Assurance

    What Does 5G Have in Store?

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jan 12, 2017 9:12:03 AM

    The next generation of mobile wireless technology is on the horizon, as 5G networks are expected to be available to users in the 2020 timeframe. The leap to 5G aims to enhance mobile user experience by offering lightning fast network speeds of 20Gbps, improved network area coverage, and a latency of only milliseconds. 5G networks are also expected to support a greater number of end systems, paving the way for new IoT applications and other machine-to-machine services.

    Unlike previous wireless generations, 5G will have its architecture built on software defined networks (SDN) and will rely on virtual network functions (VNFs) to provide the scalability and agility required to meet the growing demand for services.

    Everyone wants a slice of the pie

    While the benefits of improved network performance are significant, the real potential behind 5G networks is in the ability to build customized end-to-end virtual networks based specific requirements and deploy them throughout the entire network. This concept of creating virtual sub-networks on shared infrastructure is known as network slicing.

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    A good example of where network slicing may be applied would be at a concert. Prior to the start of a show, concert-goers arrive at the arena and start checking social media, or the musician’s website for show updates. This causes the network to focus on the traffic taking place on the downlink. However, once the show starts, people in the crowd begin sharing videos and other content to social media, switching the network’s focus to the traffic on the uplink.

    Maintaining service quality

    While the 5G networks and network slicing possibilities are endless, network operations can quickly become complex as a result of this dynamic environment.

    In order to realize the full potential of this technology, the focus must move beyond integrating virtual network functions (VNF) into the network, and on to assuring the state of services going across different network domains.

    From a service assurance perspective, there are two way this can be carried out:

    1. Monitoring utilization and performance data of services across physical and virtual infrastructure
    2. Establishing a unified view of connectivity across the different domains

    Through this, service providers will be able to unlock the full potential of 5G and avoid network performance issues, such as service outages.

    As service providers move towards these NFV defined network, and network slicing begins to deploy, the ability to carry out end-to-end service assurance across multi-domain networks is an issue that needs to be addressed to welcome the future with open arms.

    Is your network ready to handle 5G? Meet with CENX at booth 2F50 during Mobile World Congress 2017 to learn how our solution can help accelerate services over multi-domain networks.

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    Topics: Software-Defined Networking, Network Functions Virtualization, Service Assurance, 5G

    The Value of Service Assurance in Multi-Domain Networks - Part 2

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jan 4, 2017 9:48:29 AM

    The network today has become a dynamic system, consisting of both physical and virtual infrastructure. As a result of this new environment, service providers are faced with additional challenges when it comes to their network operations. During the MEF16 event in Baltimore, CENX’s CTO, Chris Purdy, had the opportunity to sit down with TelecomTV to talk about the challenge of assuring services across next generation networks. Here is part two of that interview:

    TelecomTV: I wanted to ask you about some of the challenges faced in this transition to virtual network services, specifically for service providers.

    Chris Purdy: Virtualization makes it a lot harder to assure your services. Before, things were very deterministic on physical boxes. Now what’s happening, of course, is the VNFs are going across a shared compute infrastructure. I think there are two major ways that it makes it more complex.

    Screen Shot 2017-01-04 at 9.10.00 AM.pngThe first is, historically, whatever the function that particular network element did was on the same box, and it was all tightly tied together. So, if a failure or issue occurred, it would be on the box and was very clear. Now what happens is there’s an underlying compute infrastructure that’s a shared resource for a large number of VNFs. And the mapping of those VNFs to the compute infrastructure is absolutely a very significant challenge.

    If you look at data centers, we are a big application with many components that runs in a virtualized environment, and the number of times where we’ve had degradation in the performance of our application because of underlying compute, storage, or network issues which are very difficult to sectionalize and understand. That’s what’s going to be the first big challenge; how do I essentially understand an SLA between the whole compute storage and network infrastructure in the NVFI, and make sure the VNF is getting what it needs to be successful so you can sectionalize those problems?

    The second way it adds complexity is that any one NFV domain will be delivering VNFs of many different types. I might be delivering a firewall to my IP VPN service, I might be delivering a virtual EPC to my mobile core, and I might be delivering a virtual x gateway to my mobile private network. So I’ve got many different network domains in a service provider, and each domain is now going to have a network topology, which consists of both physical network elements and virtual network functions to deliver an end-to-end service. The complexity of sectionalizing troubles in that combined physical and virtual environment is going to be one of the greatest challenges that service providers face. This is an area where we have invested significantly.

    TelecomTV: I also wanted to ask you about CENX’s role in the coalescence between standardization and open initiatives.

    Chris Purdy: It’s fascinating the way this is all happening. The MEF has discussed how it’s trying to take an agile approach to standards, which is very important. We’ve been an agile vendor for a long time. But it’s interesting when we sell to the big service providers, we often agile develop the product and then head to a waterfall when it comes to putting it into production. So there is a lot of change that has to happen.

    But, I think there has to be a much tighter working relationship between the standards bodies and the open source community. It has to happen in an agile and evolutionary way. I do personally have some concerns that when you do these things incrementally, you don’t step back and do the high-level design enough to make sure that you got your framework and information models right. Instead, it’s constant evolution. Unfortunately, that is the world we find ourselves in. It’s going to be an interesting world because it’s certain that we aren’t going to come to lockdown standards that survive long periods of time, and we’re going to see continuous evolution.

    Find Part 1 of Chris's interview with TelecomTV here.

    Join Chris and the rest of the CENX team at Mobile World Congress 2017 to discuss end-to-end service assurance across hybrid physical and virtual infrastructure. Schedule your meeting now.

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    Topics: Network Functions Virtualization, Service Assurance

    CENX's Year in Review

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Dec 29, 2016 10:12:39 AM

    As this big blue marble we call home nears completion of another trip around the sun, it’s important to take the time to reflect on the past 12 months. The year of 2016 has been one of change, as we have bared witness to events which have made a lasting impact on the world – especially if you happen to be a celebrity.

    To celebrate CENX’s achievements and successes, let’s look back at the most notable events that shaped the year that was.

    Striving to push the limit

    Over the course of the past year at CENX, we have continued our commitment to helping service providers around the world simplify their network operations and provide higher-quality services to their customers. The ongoing development of features and capabilities, such as real-time performance analytics, service visualization, and automated workflow, have made our service management and assurance solution more powerful.

    Customer wins and partnerships

    It was a big year for customer wins and partnerships as well. In February, CENX revealed successful interoperability with Ixia, Mitel, and VMware to demonstrate real-time assurance of mobile data services for virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC). Additionally, our work with Brocade, Red Hat, and RIFT.io allowed us to showcase end-to-end service management capabilities over hybrid network infrastructure.

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    Most notably, an opportunity to expand our footprint in Europe came when CENX made the announcement that we were selected by a Tier 1 service provider in the region to assure their on-demand cloud and data center services.

    As a result of our accomplishments, we have grown to over 220 employees across the globe.

    Awards and achievements

    To go along with this success, CENX had the honour of being named the recipient of some of the industry’s more prestigious awards. In 2016, CENX was recognized with the following accolades:

    Change is afoot

    With regards to the industry, we witnessed a transformation in the way service providers are approaching NFV and network operations.

    One of the major focuses of service provider as of late has been service assurance across combined physical and virtual networks. As new virtual machines are spun up and integrated into networks, the focus must shift from orchestration to assuring services in order ensure long-term success.

    Another recurring topic this year has been closed-loop automation. This automated process, which supports a wide variety of tasks, from creating and maintaining new services, to optimizing resource utilization, will allow service providers to realize the full benefits of NFV and SDN technology.

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    As we conclude what has been a year of growth and opportunity, CENX would like to thank all of our customers, partners, and employees as we look forward to bigger and better things in 2017.

    Topics: Network Functions Virtualization, Holidays, Year in Review

    Office Christmas Party

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Dec 23, 2016 8:56:27 AM

    What a year it has been! CENX's 2016 can be summed up in two words: growth and prosperity. Over the course of the past 12 months, we have made great strides in strengthening our position as a next generation software company. After all of the hard work our team has put in, CENX's annual office Christmas party is a time when we can all come together, kick back and relax, and reflect on our achievements. Watch some clips from this year's party. Happy Holidays!

    Topics: Holidays

    The Value of Service Assurance in Multi-Domain Networks - Part 1

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Dec 20, 2016 1:44:54 PM

    With virtual technologies being adopted at an increased rate, being able to assure services across hybrid physical and virtual networks has become a key focus for service providers. During last month’s MEF16 event in Baltimore, CENX’s CTO, Chris Purdy, had the opportunity to sit down with TelecomTV to talk about the challenge of assuring services across next generation networks. Here is part one of that interview:

    TelecomTV: Give us a quick overview of CENX and its role in the telecom industry.

    Chris Purdy: We’re a telecom software vendor, selling essentially orchestration software. But really more of the assurance side of orchestration has been our focus. We have done a number of cases where we’ve done the full lifecycle, but increasingly I’d say our role is more in the assurance side; so participation in that whole closed-loop assurance. We’d be taking in all of the real-time data from the [network], mapping it against the topology of that domain, and then feeding back into the orchestration and fulfillment systems to actually affect changes to the network in that controlled loop. [CENX] sells primarily to Tier 1 service providers.

    Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 8.33.22 PM.pngTelecomTV: There’s a lot of talk about digital transformation and network transformation. I wanted to ask you about what the current state-of-play of network is right now?

    Chris Purdy: I think, still, primarily you have massive physical networks out there that are carrying huge numbers of services, huge installed base, etc., and everyone is planning on moving to a virtualized implementation, where you’re not having the custom built hardware. I think what we’re seeing now is that in just about every one of the providers we’re working with, they’re either going into production with at least one of those VNFs, or they’re about to. In some cases, there are actually a significant number that are underway. Though I think that there’s been a lot of preparation work, a lot of proof of concept, a lot of testing, a lot of feedback, so I think it could be a bit of a banyan tree where there’s been a lot of infrastructure work. But I think we could be starting to see a significant movement towards those NFV in the real production networks, in the very near future.

    TelecomTV: So is the primary challenge now about orchestrating services across not only physical networks, but now virtual networks?

    Chris Purdy: Absolutely. This is why we’ve increasingly started to focus on the assurance side. A large amount of effort has gone into building what is often called the orchestration, but is really the fulfillment side. It’s about the creation of new virtual machines, spinning up new VNFs, and integrating those into the networks. Not as much energy has gone into the assurance side. How do you assure those services across combined physical and virtual networks? So this is ultimately where we’ve been investing the vast majority of our intellectual property and our development, and it’s been where our biggest deployments are.

    TelecomTV: East-West interoperability has been a topic that we’ve been hearing off and on lately, why are those so important?

    Chris Purdy: East-West essentially means the interfaces between providers. No one provider can reach everywhere on Earth, so providers have to work together in order to reach and deliver services to their full customer base. At the GEN15 event, I made the comment that I felt those East-West interfaces were the most important for MEF to standardize. The reason is because a lot of the other interfaces are happening within a service provider, and there are a lot of custom implementations, a lot of proprietary implementations, that happen within a provider. But the interactions between providers absolutely must become standardized, or else it’s not possible to set up connections and take down connections across a large base of providers. This is because when everyone has a unique service definition, a unique ordering interface, a unique way of sectionalizing services and assuring them, it just can’t possibly scale or work at speed.

    Stay tuned for part two of Chris’s interview with TelecomTV by following us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

    Topics: Network Functions Virtualization, Service Assurance

    I'm Dreaming of an IoT Christmas

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Dec 14, 2016 11:43:53 AM

    The holiday season is upon us, and there is so much to be excited for. From the festive music, to the get togethers with family and friends, it’s hard not to get that warm, fuzzy feeling during this wonderful time of the year. But admit it – you are probably most looking forward to running downstairs on Christmas morning to see what goodies Santa has left for you.

    While growing up, many of us remember asking for toys like a Slinky, a G.I. Joe action figure, or an Etch-A-Sketch on our holiday wish list. However, that’s all changed thanks to the rapid advancements in technology.

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    Next-Gen Christmas

    In our hyper-connected society, everything has become bigger and better. A significant factor in this has been the Internet, which has revolutionized the way we live and work.

    Today, the same technology which has allowed us to easily disseminate information around the world is being used to connect devices to one another through ubiquitous sensors. This concept of connected devices is known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), and it’s quickly becoming integrated into every aspect of our lives.

    Thanks to IoT, some interesting new gadgets which could be found on people's 2016 wish-list include:

    • Amazon Echo: A voice command device which is capable of voice interaction and also acts a hub for home automation.
    • Fitbit: A fitness wearable that tracks and monitors data like heart rate, distance covered, and calories burned, and allows you to analyze your progress towards fitness goals.
    • Google Glass: A wearable which has the ability to augment reality by providing real-time information during activities into your line of sight.

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    The Problem with IoT

    While this technology presents countless new opportunities to users, it poses significant challenges to service providers. This is because IoT adds an additional layer of complexity to operations as a result of the many more endpoints connected to the network.

    Although the core components of cloud-based computing and sensors, which continuously collect data, are an integral aspect of the technology, the ability to assure service quality is critical to the success of IoT services.

    In order to deliver the quality of service (QoS) that customers are expecting when they go to use their new gadgets, service providers require a solution that helps them effectively collect all that Big Data, analyze that information, and use it to manage their increasingly complex networks.

    CENX Makes your Holiday Wishes come True

    With CENX’s Exanova service assurance solution, service providers are able to overcome the challenges brought on by enormous volume of IoT. Our solution, which can be deployed in the virtual infrastructure of the service provider cloud, is able to:

    • Visualize and sectionalize paths between enterprise customers and wireless gateways
    • Provide single-pane of glass analytics for network and service performance, and other key performance indicators
    • Identify all customers affected by network outages, and other faults

    All of this allows you to enjoy your new connected devices on Christmas morning as they start making your life simpler.

    Learn how service assurance is the key enabler of QoS differentiation for IoT services and a major requirement for NFV.

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    Topics: Network Functions Virtualization, Internet of Things, Cloud, Service Assurance

    What do self-driving cars and next-gen networks have in common?

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Dec 6, 2016 12:56:37 PM

    Chances are if you’re the one driving during a long road trip, you’ve drawn the short end of the stick. This is because while you’re stuck paying attention to the road, those in the back are enjoying the ride.

    Uber-Self-Driving-Cars-Starting-In-Pittsburgh-Late-August-03.jpgHowever, that will all change as driverless cars are set to revolutionize the automotive industry. In the not too distant future, people will have the luxury of simply hopping into their vehicle, inputting their destination, and watching as it navigates the road autonomously.

    What’s under the hood of these driverless cars?

    This technology, which is already being rolled out in many places, including in Uber’s self driving car pilot program, is incredibly futuristic and has many are excited at the prospect of having more free time while being “behind the wheel”. The intention of this post isn’t to talk about how telecom networks support connectivity to driverless cars, but rather to consider the principles behind this highly automated system.

    This “auto-pilot” capability is achieved by combining several automated subsystems which have been gradually added to vehicles over the years: lane departure detection, adaptive cruise control, and assisted steering, for example. These are self-regulating processes, which modify their actions based on sensors and results. Automation is then achieved by identifying errors or differences in the system, and using this information to make any necessary adjustments. This process is known as a feedback control loop.

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    This allows for individually automated systems to be nested on top of one another, establishing a single continuous process. This is critical, as it minimizes complexity, reduces risk, and most importantly, prevents you from ending up in a ditch.

    Telecoms shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel!

    So this begs the question, if we can use this automation to safely transport humans, why can’t the same be done for telecom network operations?

    In the past, there has been a reluctance to automate in telecom due to the perceived risks and challenges related to bad data and complex, siloed operations. However, some of these barriers have been overcome thanks to recent innovations from the IT industry which have made it possible to process and analyse the vast amount of data produced by networks.

    A growing number of service providers have begun to integrate SDN and NFV into their network as it promises improved agility, elasticity, and cost savings. While these redeeming qualities are definitely creating a buzz within the industry, automation, as it pertains to service assurance (in addition to fulfillment), is critical to realizing the full potential of this technology.

    Automation-and-Assurance-Photo.png                                                                                                                            Graphic by Appledore Research Group

    As highlighted in the example of driverless cars, feedback control loops are the structure required for success. The concept is simple, a single and intuitive process is established which supports a wide variety of tasks, from creating and maintaining new services, to optimizing resource utilization.

    Traditionally, service fulfillment and assurance have been independent silos. However, in this new automated closed-loop environment, assurance and analytics will converge to establish an intelligent platform that guides orchestration. As networks become more complex, closed-loops provide the ability to correlate all of the relevant data, gain a comprehensive snapshot into what is happening in the network, and make a decision on what actions to take to improve operations.

    In the end, this transformation allows service providers the ability to fulfill the customized services offerings to customers, which are a key differentiator in today’s competitive market. Additionally, it allows operators to shift their focus from monitoring network performance to delivering quality customer experience.

    Learn how to speed service delivery and drive customer experience with Exanova’s ability to deliver closed-loop service assurance for vCPE at the Virtual Edge.

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    Topics: Software-Defined Networking, Network Functions Virtualization, Internet of Things, Closed-loop Automation

    3 Operational Challenges that Drive Operators Crazy

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Nov 30, 2016 9:26:45 AM

    In the digital age, both people and businesses have become dependent on reliable voice and data services in order to keep them connected to the world. As a result, it has never been more important for a service provider to maintain high quality network performance.

    iStock_000033599554_XXXLarge.jpgHowever, as data services continue to explode and network operations centers (NOC) become inundated with more and more information, operational complexities become a concern. Some of the issues impacting network operations are:

    • Inventory inaccuracy
    • Inability to resolve network faults quickly
    • Lengthy circuit turn-up time
    • Unreliable performance of high value services and applications, such as video streaming and VoIP

     It is through pulling back the curtain on some of these challenges, that we can begin to remedy the situation.

    1. So much data, so little time

    One of the biggest challenges for people working in the NOC is having to sift through the mind-numbing amount of data when an inevitable fault appears in the network. Operators, who often have dozens of windows in front of them, must correlate alarms from several systems in order to pinpoint the root cause, all while working within a limited timeframe.

    This daunting task of attempting to untangle what can feel like a web of analytics, can take minutes, to hours, to even sometimes days. Also, in order to be successful at their job, network operators must have the network and its intricacies memorized to be able to locate, diagnose, and fix a problem when one arises.

    1. Action without vision gets you nowhere

    Another issue faced by network operators has been the inability to visualize the end-to-end network. The development of next-gen services, such IoT, have driven data traffic through the roof and has caused networks to expand in size and complexity.

    In order to quickly diagnose a problem and avoid costly downtime, operators must have the capability to establish a comprehensive view of service topology and underlying physical and virtual network infrastructure across the network.

    Consider, for example, you are a driver assigned to bring a shipment to an unfamiliar location. In order to ensure the delivery makes it to the designated location on time the best tool to use would be a GPS, which highlights the best route to take. The same mentality can be applied to network operations. It is important to develop a trusted model of the network to correlate quickly and drill down into the network.  

    1. Develop and maintain the capacity to meet demand

    As the rate of data consumption continues to increase amongst customers, network capacity must increase in parallel to keep up with demand. With this being the case, network capacity planning has become an essential aspect of operations as it ensures services are delivered to customers efficiently and effectively.

    growth_graphic-1.jpgTypically, service providers have taken a just-in-case approach to capacity management, where network traffic is analyzed and once a utilization target is met, an upgrade is made to the area of the network which has reached its capacity limit.

    Through this approach, networks are over engineered in order to satisfy customer needs based on long-term forecasts. This quickly becomes inefficient as the upgrades are carried out based on “what ifs”, and often when the specific segment of the network is already near capacity, instead of thoroughly understanding network usage and better targeting capacity upgrades.

    So, is all this complexity regarding network operations giving you a headache? CENX has the prescription for you and your team!

    CENX’s Exanova solution transforms network big data into real-time actionable intelligence helping multi-vendor and multi-domain networks to run like a well oiled machine. Learn more about Exanova’s ability to help address the challenges above in our service assurance white paper.

    Download the White Paper

    Topics: Analytics, Capacity Management, Service Assurance, Fault Management

    CENX Continues on its Fast Track to Success

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Nov 21, 2016 11:34:44 AM

    deloitte-technology-fast-500-1.pngMany start-up companies and entrepreneurs are undertaking new initiatives to develop a product or service that changes how the world sees and does things.

    Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 recognizes companies on this journey, as the annual rankings aim to spotlight next generation market leaders who are driving innovation and pushing the boundaries in their industry.

    Last week, for a second consecutive year, CENX had the outstanding honour of being named as one of those companies on the fast track to success.

    What’s the secret to CENX’s success?

    CENX’s revolutionary approach to helping service providers manage and assure their network operations has made us one of the fastest growing technology companies in North America.

    Today’s network operations have become dramatically more complex due to disruptive virtual infrastructure. CENX’s Exanova solution allows service providers to usher in next-gen services by providing end-to-end orchestrated service assurance across multi-domain and multi-vendor networks. To help reduce operational cost and complexity, our solution offers three key capabilities:

    1. Establish a trusted view of network topology and its services with Service Visualization
    2. Ensure network inventory accuracy with Continuous Data Audit
    3. Build out network infrastructure efficiently with Capacity Planning

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    Selection for Deloitte’s Fast 500 is based on a company’s percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2012 to 2015. During that time period, CENX achieved a revenue growth of 487 percent, good enough to have us place in the top half of the list at 174th overall.

    The strides we’ve taken in 2016

    Over the course of the past year, some business ventures which have contributed to CENX’s growth have been the win of a Tier 1 EMEA service provider contract and our continued work with prominent Tier 1 service providers around the world.

    Back in May, CENX was able to expand its global footprint  when we were awarded the opportunity to orchestrate and assure on-demand cloud and data center services for a European service provider. Additionally, CENX’s proven capabilities to help global mobile, wireline, and cloud service providers provide higher-quality service has been instrumental to our continued success.

    At CENX, we understand that in order to maintain our position as a revolutionary company, we must continue to drive development and progress forward. In 2017, we look to build upon our company’s successes, and once again be named to Deloitte’s Fast 500 list.

    Learn how service assurance is the key enabler for NFV

    Download the White Paper

    Topics: Industry Awards