Blog

    The Value in Service Assurance

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Sep 13, 2016 8:34:56 AM

    As legacy networks shift from hardware to software components and begin to integrate virtualized technologies, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), assuring service quality has become a key focus for service providers in order to differentiate themselves from competitors.

    DeskComparison.jpg

    A comprehensive service assurance approach that provides detailed network analytics and bridges the operational gaps between physical and virtual infrastructure is paramount to help deliver premium quality of experience (QoE) to customers, and to avoid the increased operational complexities and costs that are associated with the adoption of NFV. Since the NFV market is expected to reach a value of $15.5 billion by 2020, end-to-end orchestrated service assurance provides significant opportunities to service providers attempting to keep pace with the exponential growth rate of data services. 

    The value of service assurance comes in its ability to enable service providers to optimize their service operations. Accordingly, this can be done in three ways: network impact analysis, network capacity management, and saving expenditures.

    Network Impact Analysis

    In today’s competitive market, where customers expect a high level of QoE, service providers must be able to accurately manage and understand the increasing amount of complex network data they encounter daily. A strategic service assurance approach must be implemented in order to accurately monitor network performance and provide operators with the information they need to make informed decisions. Service providers who utilize a service assurance solution, such as CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence, are able to explore real-time and historical analytics across multiple data sources to enhance fault isolation and performance management. Additionally, this level of network analysis greatly expedites troubleshooting capabilities, helping to mitigate widespread network issues.

    Network Capacity Management

    Another major value of service assurance is its ability to enable service providers to plan service upgrades efficiently. As many operators are aware, network planning and service provisioning is essential to efficiently deliver services and maximize end-user QoE. Through Exanova Service Intelligence’s detailed analytics processed , service providers are able to correlate utilization and performance data to target capacity upgrades in the areas of the network needing them most. Service providers are also able to meet market demand by accelerating service turn-up times and streamlining workflow processes. Thanks to a strategic service assurance approach, service providers are able to reduce operational costs, and most importantly, maintain customer service-level commitments. 

    Saving Expenditures

    Attempting to maximize profits amidst the relentless changes in the telecoms industry can be a challenge. However, applying a service assurance approach can aid service providers to reduce opex and capex associated with their network operations. Operators can utilize a strategic approach to limit costly network upgrades when and where increased capacity is needed, thus controlling capex spend. Service providers are able to streamline triage and mean time to repair processes and also avoid manual inventory reconciliation, which decreases opex dramatically and enhances service availability and quality. Lastly, service assurance aids Service Level Agreement (SLA) management, since service providers can maintain accurate reports of how their partner providers are performing, and hold those providers accountable to contracted service levels, thus optimizing their opex spend.

    Ultimately, the benefits of service assurance are vast, spanning operations across multiple domains, and essential to all aspects of a service provider’s network. Learn more about how CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence can help meet all of your service assurance needs.

    Topics: Service Assurance

    CENX Aims to Make its Mark in the Middle East

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Aug 18, 2016 11:42:51 AM

    A major global telecoms forum has recognized CENX’s achievement in driving technological innovation across wireline, mobile, and cloud networks. Telecoms World Middle East announced the list of finalists for their 10th annual awards, which celebrates industry excellence in the region, and CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence solution had the outstanding distinction of being short-listed for the Best Network Infrastructure Solution category.

    Award-1.pngAs disruptive technologies emerge, and customer requirements cause networks to become more and more complex and dynamic, service providers are faced with increased operational challenges. CENX’s next-gen technology automates the deployment and assurance of reliable, advanced, and rapid connectivity through its ability to unify the operational gaps between physical and virtual infrastructure, while also simplifying network operations. The software harnesses the power of big data analytics by collecting, correlating, and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) in a single pane of glass to deliver real-time actionable intelligence.

    As the telco ecosystem in the Middle East experiences a period of rapid development, delivering service quality and service assurance are top of mind. In order to provide the high-level quality of experience (QoE) customers have come to expect, service providers require a highly scalable solution that enables them to deliver new services faster, across both physical and virtual network functions, while getting more out of existing network investments. Through CENX’s intuitive approach, service providers can optimize the assurance and orchestration of differentiated services to generate new renevue opportunities and increase customer satisfaction. Additionally, Exanova’s rich User Experience (UX) offers Google-like contextual search, macro-geographic views, and detailed path visualization for rapid assurance of end-to-end services.

    The 2016 edition of the Telecoms World Awards will see a deep pool of nominees, with over 50 finalists named across 12 categories, and will include large telco companies such as Vodafone, Orange, and Ooredoo.

    The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, September 27, at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, where the region’s top telecom operators and vendors will be recognized. Stay tuned to find out who will be crowned Best Network Infrastructure Solution!

     

    Topics: Industry Awards

    SD-WAN: A Disruptive Game-Changer

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Aug 9, 2016 9:02:51 AM

    The adoption of SD-WAN, as is the case with most virtual functions, promises to reduce capex and opex for both service providers and enterprises. This is thanks to SD-WAN’s ability to deploy services using centralized, programmable software and commodity hardware. Furthermore, some of the most attractive features that SD-WAN has to offer are its automatic provisioning capabilities, flexible transport options, and increased security capabilities – important to any service, but especially so for emerging IoT services where human intervention is cost-prohibitive. 

    CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence offers the capabilities needed to address the complex needs of enterprise customers while bridging the gap between physical and virtual infrastructure to deliver real-time orchestrated service assurance. Exanova also enables service providers to drive service agility, assure service quality of experience (QoE), and reduce opex.

    Read more about how SD-WANs are disrupting the way enterprise networks are managed and delivered in our SDx Central article.

    Topics: SD-WAN

    The Fault in Your Network

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Aug 4, 2016 2:15:46 PM

    Imagine a day in the life of a network operator working at a large Tier 1 service provider. You start your day as you would any other, but as you go to take that first sip of morning coffee you observe that some issue has occurred in the network. Not long after, you find yourself inundated with alarms from multiple systems. The race against the clock has begun, and you must quickly correlate, isolate, and resolve these faults before their impact spread throughout the network and adversely impacts quality of service for your customers.

    What could be the root cause issue? Where to start looking? What impact is it having on customers? These are the pertinent questions that need to be addressed.

    In the case of traditional fault systems, Network Operations Center (NOC) personnel face significant hurdles when attempting to identify, diagnose, and resolve network issues as a result of the disparate, legacy operations systems that have evolved over time. Network operations must undergo the tedious process of manually correlating alarms from several systems in order to pinpoint the root cause. Compounded by the fact that service providers must also deal with impacted customer quality of experience (QoE) as triage time increases, this process quickly becomes costly in more ways than one.

    What’s more, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), Software Defined Networking (SDN), and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) have resulted in added operational complexities forcing service provides to reassess their approach to service assurance.

    Typically, traditional fault management systems provide a device-centric, rather than a user-centric, view of the network, hindering the ability to monitor and visualize important fault information. In order to understand how a single resource fault may be impacting several logical services utilizing that resource, and the customers who rely on those services, an operator must swivel-chair between systems.

    Furthermore, traditional fault management systems are not able to support SDN controllers, NFV infrastructure elements, or virtual network functions, such as virtual firewalls or virtual loadbalancers. The gaps in these fault systems also force operators to swivel-chair between systems in order to understand and act on key trends regarding historical fault activity, network key performance indicators (KPIs), network inventory, and service topology.

    As next-gen services and infrastructure become integrated into the network, service providers require a service assurance solution that extends the value of their existing fault systems and bridges the gap between physical and virtual infrastructure.

    Fault.jpg

    CENX has delivered a solution that revolutionizes network analytics and troubleshooting to help mitigate widespread network issues, assure customer QoE, and enable network operators to do their jobs most effectively.

    Exanova Service Intelligence’s software enables network operators to quickly isolate faults by leveraging network analytics through its unique ability to correlate the overwhelming amount of data across multiple technologies and network functions into a single monitoring dashboard. By continuously ingesting and contextualizing fault data with information from network services, customers, topology, and service quality KPIs from other IT systems, service providers can reduce their triage time by as much as 90%. In addition to historical reporting and analytics, Exanova also provides proactive capabilities by enriching fault data and holding it in temporal data stores, providing the basis for predictive, automated service assurance.

    Furthermore, Exanova provides an at-a-glance view of all physical and virtual segments of the network in a single pane of glass with real-time inventory and performance dashboards. As a result, NOC personnel can accelerate break/fix troubleshooting more rapidly than can be done with traditional fault management systems. Network faults can now be quickly located and triaged down to a fine granularity of individual objects in the service path, such as ports, nodes, segments, and services thanks to Exanova’s real-time circuit path topology visualization and fault isolation.

    CENX’s orchestrated service assurance solution allows service providers to reduce their triage time from days to minutes, isolate faults right down to the circuit path segments, and reduce operational costs. At the end of the day, this provides customers with unparalleled service quality and allows network operators to enjoy their morning coffee for a little longer.

    New Call-to-action

    Topics: Fault Management

    With a JIT Approach, You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jun 13, 2016 9:20:25 AM

    In today’s fast-paced way of life, millions of people are reliant on staying connected to the world, whether it’s through mobile, wireline, or cloud services, to manage their personal and business matters. As a result, a dependable network infrastructure is critical to providing the high level of service quality users demand. However, operators are struggling to upgrade their networks so they can keep pace with the relentless growth in network traffic and maintain high quality levels, all while trying to maximize profits.

    The current approach taken by service providers to address their capacity management needs has been one based on long-term, highly conservative forecasts, in which they over-engineer the network, adding capacity to sites potentially years ahead of when demand is expected to be needed. This Just-In-Case (JIC) approach, which takes a shot in the dark predicting the levels of user traffic five to seven years down the road and the amount of capacity needed to meet these expectations, results in large capex expenses, where operators own the backhaul network themselves, and very high opex, where they lease cell site access from third-party providers. In the current market environment, as revenue figures are decreasing and the demand put on networks by new apps and devices continues to increase, operators are working under less than ideal circumstances.

    Just as the famous Rolling Stones’ song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” suggests, service providers are often forced to accept a sub-par capacity planning strategy due to poorly instrumented networks and simplistic analytics. However, for many service providers looking to make better use of existing resources to improve user quality of experience, a solution that delivers assured service quality and availability when necessary is required. With CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence software, service providers can buy what they need, when they need it as it applies a Just-In-Time (JIT) approach to backhaul upgrade management.

    JITGraphic.png

    Using Exanova to manage network capacity aids service providers in their efforts to plan and deliver capacity more efficiently. Through this JIT approach, capacity in individual network locations is upgraded as needed based on detailed analysis of actual network metrics and Service Operations, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM). As a result, significant benefits are realized in the form of slashed inventory costs and reduced capex associated with network operations. In fact, CENX’s solution has already generated millions of dollars in savings by rightsizing heavily over-engineered circuits for many Tier 1 mobile service providers.

    The distinct modules which make up Exanova’s intuitive software allows service providers to take their network operations to the next level. CENX’s capacity planning module provides carriers with comprehensive and detailed information allowing service providers to rightsize the embedded base infrastructure and rein in expense growth. Additionally, advancements have been made in Exanova’s latest releases to factor in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) scaling. CENX’s JIT approach provides the capabilities to assure services across any network by visualizing networks and services end-to-end through a single pane of glass, continuously measuring key performance indicators, and automating needed buildout.

    As network technology continues to evolve, having all of your data in one place becomes more and more important to generate actionable intelligence. Thanks to CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence JIT capacity management approach, operators are able to better align network resources with the demand of customers, thereby saving vital opex and capex, and more importantly, proving Mick Jagger wrong.

    Topics: Capacity Management

    Rio Olympics: Is Brazil Prepared to Connect the World?

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jun 7, 2016 9:37:53 AM

    The countdown to the 2016 Olympic Summer Games has begun, and in just a couple months, the first-ever Olympic Games held on South American soil will take place in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21.

    Since being named host of the world’s premier sporting event, an added sense of enthusiasm has filled the carnival atmosphere of Brazil. However, the road leading up to this summer’s edition of the Games has not been a smooth one, as Brazil has had to endure significant hurdles.

    brazil-olympics.jpg
    For months, the most notable issues garnering headlines in the news have been the water pollution of Guanabara Bay, the multi-billion dollar scandal involving Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and the spread of the Zika virus in the region. However, an underlying issue making waves prior to the start of the Games is whether or not Brazil’s wireless infrastructure will be able to handle the increased traffic brought on by the massive crowds expected to descend upon Rio.

    Despite the political and economic turmoil, the country has taken strides to improve their telecommunication infrastructure required to establish the backbone to keep athletes, media, and spectators connected throughout the event.

    The Rio 2016 Games, offering a total of 7.5 million tickets for purchase and hosting more than 10,000 athletes, is expected to generate 50 percent more wireless data activity than the previous London 2012 Games. In addition to the increase in mobile traffic, free Wi-Fi will be made available at all 37 event venues as well as the athlete’s village. To meet this surge in traffic, the country has invested $360 million in beefing up its communication infrastructure, which had previously been upgraded for the 2014 World Cup.

    The companies partnering with the Olympic Games to upgrade communication services are Cisco Systems and the consortium of Embratel and Claro. Cisco, responsible for network infrastructure, has established 7,000 Wi-Fi access points and 100,000 LAN portal networks, while Embratel/Claro, the event’s official telecommunication service provider, is preparing to support the estimated 27 million voice calls that will be made over the course of the 17 days.

    Assuring the services associated with this immense amount of data traffic is a challenge for any Games, not to mention for a host country in which network reliability has historically been an issue due to its relatively modest network infrastructure.

    In Brazil, the most common form of connectivity is mobile, as opposed to North America or Asia where wireline is predominant, which influences service quality. As mobile networks are a significantly more complex technology, mobile service providers face issues regarding assuring the quality of end-to-end services from the end user device to the Internet or the cloud, across all segments of the network. This is where the value of CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence software could present itself - enabling service providers to make rapid, informed decisions to assure service quality and run their networks more efficiently. Exanova does this by harnessing the power of real-time big data analytics to deliver actionable intelligence.

    banner_crop-1.jpg
    If deployed, CENX’s solutions could also have the potential to have ongoing positive impacts in the development of Brazil, even after the Games’ closing ceremony. Exanova helps service providers run their operations more cost-effectively and efficiently, allowing them to shift investment towards building out their infrastructure and other strategic initiatives. This could lead to job growth and stimulate the overall economy as telecommunications provides the critical foundation for business.

    By using Exanova, an improved, reliable, and broader coverage communications network can be established – and that's tantamount to a gold medal performance.

    Topics: Olympic Games

    Bringing the Industry Together: 3 Takeaways from OpenStack Summit

    Posted by Matt Mariani on May 11, 2016 9:41:30 AM

    OpenStack recently held its third annual OpenStack Summit providing developers and users of the software a truly unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas on a grand scale. IT leaders, telco operators, cloud administrators, app developers, and OpenStack contributors gathered in Austin, Texas, April 25th to 29th, to learn what people and businesses are doing with the technology. Hands-on workshops were also held in the OpenStack Marketplace, where companies, like CENX partners Cloudify, CPLANE Networks, and Ericsson, had the opportunity to market their cloud strategy and showcase how they are utilizing OpenStack.

    OpenStack_Summit.jpg


    As a company who has established interoperability with OpenStack, we sent two senior developers to the summit to gain insight into the hot topics currently making headlines within the community. Based on the sights and sounds of the five-day event, here are the three big takeaways that caught our attention at this year’s OpenStack Summit.

    What does OPNFV mean for NFV technology?

    Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are revolutionizing network operations, as these systems provide the necessary programmable and elastic infrastructure that service providers need to meet customers’ growing demands. At this year’s summit, we noticed OPNFV—a carrier-grade, integrated, open source platform which accelerates the introduction of new NFV products and services—being discussed often. The goal of OPNFV is to establish an ecosystem for NFV solutions based on open standards and software to meet the needs of customers.

    This development, which aims to help NFV seamlessly integrate into existing network operations, presents significant opportunities for us as a vendor of orchestrated service assurance solutions. Exanova Service Intelligence’s ability to provide end-to-end, cost-effective NFV service assurance across multiple vendors, NFVOs, VIMs (such as OpenStack), VNFMs, and VNFs in the core, provider edge, and customer edge is a necessity for service providers as NFV technology becomes more established.

    OpenStack is more stable, now what?

    According to OpenStack’s User Survey, over half of respondents are “interested in utilizing containers in addition to OpenStack clouds for production uses”, so it’s no surprise that exploring the opportunities of containerization was a trending topic. Now that OpenStack has achieved a more stable state, it has paired with Docker to offer more complete cloud services and to better enable microservices. Containerization in OpenStack offers two significant benefits to CENX customers:

    1. Application containers require less storage and computing requirements than virtual machines, allowing for more dynamic services.
    2. Containers can run on any hardware running the relevant operating system, making them portable.

    Therefore, service providers deploying OpenStack are able to run hundreds of application containers on a single server, allowing them to reduce cost and make better use of resources. However, with servers able to run significantly more applications, network operations become more complex. CENX provides service provider operations personnel the ability to visualize and monitor service performance in real-time, assuring service quality and agility.

    IMG_2521.jpg


    What’s the future of OpenStack?

    One of the defining features of OpenStack is that its software brings the industry together. The technology is built by a thriving community and, therefore, relies on the collaboration of users. From our time spent at the show, the general feeling is that, in order for OpenStack to establish something carrier-grade, service providers have to continue to work and develop within the community. Due to the increasing rate of demand, it wouldn't be possible for a service provider to keep pace with the development required to meet the needs of end-users on its own.

    Currently, a prominent Tier 1 service provider is a major contributor to OpenStack, helping the project to roll out new functionality quickly and improving their time-to-market. While OpenStack technology remains a work in progress, from what we have seen during our time at the summit, there are a growing number of companies contributing to the development of the technology to help move the telecom industry into the future.

    Topics: OpenStack

    Shining the Light on Orchestrated Service Assurance

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Apr 25, 2016 9:45:29 AM

    Light Reading, the market-leading online news source to the global telecom industry, released the list of finalists for their 2016 Leading Lights Awards. Of the record 300+ submissions, we’re proud to announce that CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence has been shortlisted for the Leading Lights Award for Most Innovative NFV Product Strategy (Vendor).

    Leading_Lights.jpg


    What’s our industry-leading NFV strategy? It’s to provide service providers with end-to-end orchestrated service assurance and management for their networks with our Exanova Service Intelligence software. However, that’s not as simple as it sounds. Such a strategy is in great demand since Exanova solves the complex challenges service providers face when integrating a disruptive technology such as NFV into their day-to-day network operations.

    With Exanova, service providers can rapidly deploy and assure differentiated, revenue-generating services over hybrid physical and NFV infrastructure, allowing them to deliver the high quality of experience their customers expect, and leveraging their existing network investment. Now that’s an innovative proposition! No need to swivel chair between multiple legacy OSS and new MANO systems – Exanova continuously collects data from various sources, across physical and hybrid networks, correlating the data, and analyzing KPIs, to deliver actionable intelligence to the operator user through an easy-to-use graphical interface or automated workflow.

    Of note, the value of Exanova Service Intelligence was also cited by globally-regarded analyst firm, Analysys Mason, in its recent profile of CENX: “[Exanova’s] real-time data and predictive analytics capabilities are critical for automated orchestration of dynamic NFV/SDN networks.”

    The winners of the Leading Lights Awards will be announced on May 23rd, in Austin, Texas, the evening before the Big Communications Event kicks off. See you there!

    Topics: Leading Lights Award

    Wrap Up of CENX's Time at MWC 2016

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Mar 3, 2016 11:39:00 AM

    This year’s edition of Mobile World Congress (MWC) was as energetic and exciting as ever. Over the course of four days, the event saw a record breaking 101,000 attendees and more than 2,200 exhibitors descended onto the “Mobile World Capital”, Barcelona, Spain, to take part in the industry’s largest event. Once again, CENX had the opportunity of joining telecommunications vendors and service providers in the unparalleled experience of showcasing new and innovative technology to the world.

    DSC_6745.jpg
    At CENX, we believe our Exanova Service Intelligence software truly fosters MWC 2016’s mantra of “mobile is everything”, by assuring the quality of mobile data services! Our mission going into the event was simple: to show the industry we are trailblazers in delivering service providers with end-to-end data service assurance over existing physical and emerging virtualized hybrid networks. Those who stopped by our booth during the show got the chance to see a live demonstration of how CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence’s real-time troubleshooting makes the difficult tasks of aggregating network data, collecting alarms, analyzing them, and presenting them in a easy-to-understand format, an easy automated process.

    CENX also had the privilege of collaborating with other industry leaders at MWC 2016. Prior to the event, we announced successful interoperability with Ixia, Mitel and VMware for our demonstration of comprehensive real-time assurance of mobile data services for virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC). We showcased that demo at VMware’s NFV Pavilion. Furthermore, our own Director of Business Development, Paul McCluskey, was invited to take part in the “Managing Operational Transformation for NFV” panel at VMware’s Theatre. CENX co-founder, Nan Chen, participated in NetScout System’s video taping discussing how virtualization helps enable IoT services, alongside Guillaume Le Mener, Business Development Director at NetScout. Nan also sat down with Cisco CTO, Dave Ward, and Ericsson VP of Technology, Mats Karlsson, at the tail-f panel “Model-driven Technology Vision”, where he elaborated on MEF’s move towards NETCONF and YANG for information modelling.

    DSC_6778.jpg
    In addition to the CENX representatives, there were a few A-list celebrities who also generated buzz by making an appearance at MWC. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, attended a panel discussion where he highlighted his company’s desire to continue to venture into the mobile industry, and Mercedes’ Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton was on stage promoting the new concept for a “connected” car. It is clear by such presentations that the market for reliable Internet of Things (IoT), dynamically scalable connectivity, and cloud services is increasing. As a result, there is a driving demand for service providers to expand differentiated service offerings, and leverage the agility, elasticity and cost-efficiency of NFV infrastructure (NFVI). 5G is still a ways in the future, but IoT is already placing demands on networks today. Our Exanova Service Intelligence solution, as seen in our demo, can certainly help service providers meet those market demands by providing rapid service assurance across hybrid networks.

     

     

    Topics: Mobile World Congress

    Bring Life to Your Network Operations with Real-Time Orchestrated Service Assurance

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Feb 9, 2016 10:02:37 AM

    Picture a world where various aspects of your life can be effortlessly attended to through a single device. Take the Fitbit technology for example. In the future, a Fitbit may be able to send health data to the wearer’s personal trainer who will analyze it and devise a customized workout. The wearer receives the new workout and it is automatically downloaded to a treadmill when they next visit the gym. In the meantime, their nutritionist plans a suitable post-workout meal. The Fitbit wearer’s fridge identifies if any of the ingredients from the meal are missing, and orders them from the online retailer in time from the wearer’s return from the gym.

    Screen_Shot_2016-02-09_at_9.41.42_AM.png
    The evolution of services, where billions of things are going to be connected, over networks that will be largely virtualized, is a powerful combination. As a result, this will have significant implications for the way in which digital services are created, delivered, and the way they need to be assured.

    Service Assurance Today

    In order to get a better grasp of where we are headed, we first must have an understanding of where we are today. In particular, looking at how services are currently assured. It is often the case that every operator has multiple network domains, which are specific areas of the network made up of thousands of network elements. Now, in order to manage a network domain, there must be an inventory system in place. These systems are typically manually populated which results in huge data integrity issues. Despite this untrustworthy data, that system is the heart and soul of the association between the resources in the network and the services provided by that network domain.

    These network domains are instrumented so that, in the event of a failure of one of those resources, an alarm will get raised. The biggest issue associated with the fault systems typically in place is that a network domain could be sending hundreds of alarms a day. Therefore, people are relied upon to look at the output of these alarms and take the raw alarm prioritization and decide what to work on first, and what to fix, as problems occur. In the end, you end up with a team of detectives for each aspect of the network, trying to dig through information in order to try to understand what is going on. 

    NFV Stage 1: Virtualization of Existing Network Elements

    Now what happens when Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) comes along? The first stage of NFV would be categorized as the virtualization of existing network elements. The impact of this stage on service assurance is three-fold. The first is that ultimately the virtualization layers of the underlying NFV infrastructure (NFVI) need to be managed. The second is that these virtual network functions cannot be managed in the same fashion as existing physical networks, since they have different attributes that cannot be handled by existing OSS. Thirdly, and most importantly, there is going to be a mix of existing physical network elements as well as virtual network functions. As a result, there is going to be a substantial increase in complexity and potential failure modes you somehow need to address.

    So what can be done regarding OSS strategies to address this stage one of NFV? Firstly, you need to add new systems to manage the new virtualized network elements. Existing OSSs cannot be used to manage these new network functions due to the fact that significant gaps exist. There is substantially more complexity here, for example, CPU utilization down in the compute infrastructure can cause issues, delay, and delay variation of VoLTE calls. However, this still requires significant investment and does not even provide the agility, which is the main rationale for introducing NFV in the first place.

    NFV Stage 2: Micro-Services

    The second stage of NFV occurs when micro-services start being deployed. Currently there are, for example, shared firewalls, or shared DNS across multiple customers. However, what happens in micro-services is that each customer will instantiate their own VNF for their own firewall, or DNS. In this world, with the separate VNFs per customer service, versus shared multi tenant VNFs, there is going to be a migration to container-based virtualization. Additionally, the network typology becomes extremely dynamic. The virtualization layers must be fully automated and assured, as one could simply not manage all this manually. In addition, the dynamic topology fundamentally breaks the existing OSS paradigm.

    Screen_Shot_2016-02-09_at_9.44.24_AM.pngEven if service providers manage to deliver the first stage of NFV without large OSS overhaul, the emergence of micro-services is going to force change because it fundamentally breaks the existing OSS paradigm. How are you going to automate that level of scale? How are you going to inform the fault and performance OSS of the entities as they dynamically appear and disappear? How are you going to sectionalize issues as the service path changes? The topology of the network will be continually undergoing change as customers add and create services dynamically. This is what is driving the need for a fundamental OSS re-architecture.

    Today, CENX is able to assist service providers with solutions for real-time orchestrated service assurance. Exanova Service Intelligence allows for the collection of all of this real-time data, and facilitates in populating the service information model dynamically. This addresses the challenges of the new network. Essentially, Exanova is helping to deliver service agility, quality services, and reduce opex for service providers around the world.

    Topics: Software-Defined Networking