Blog

    Assuring Dynamic Services in the Hybrid Virtualized Network

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Mar 1, 2017 12:23:35 PM

    Virtualization, and the automation it enables, is transforming the telecom industry. As a result, service providers are facing a shift in the way they assure network services, provide reliability and availability, optimize capacity and utilization, deliver a superior customer experience, and generate new sources of revenue and customer value. The future of digital services is rendering the traditional approach to assuring services obsolete — and unfortunately, many service providers’ operating environments are stuck in the past, with teams requiring a slew of manual tasks performed by network operations personnel in order to understand service impact.

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    The market for commercial service assurance solutions is maturing toward the era of “closed-loop automation,” which will be driven by the needs of truly dynamic cloud architectures and virtualization. The only way to support the demands of cloud services is through increased automation. Therefore, it’s critical that service providers design for automation and for scale in order to reap both lower costs and greater flexibility.

    CENX has teamed up with Appledore Research Group to bring you the latest insights on this topic in the white paper, “Assuring Dynamic Services in the Hybrid Virtualized Network”.

    Within the white paper, we cover:

    • Current market dynamics and how they will evolve (and why it’s important!)
    • The challenges CSPs face in supporting virtualization and cloud native services
    • The relationship between assurance and fulfillment systems + how each can evolve to support a more automated closed loop system
    • The economics of assuring dynamic hyper scale services in virtualized networks
    • Control theory and how it impacts assurance
    • RASA: a new approach to assuring services
    • Machine learning, as applied to virtual networks

    Download the white paper for a comprehensive guide to assuring dynamic services in the hybrid virtualization network.

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

    The Future of Networks: 5G Network Slicing

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Feb 24, 2017 10:32:54 AM

    The telecom industry is abuzz with talk of the future of data. As systems become more sophisticated, cities grow more connected, and the Internet of Things (IoT) changes how we interact with our homes, cars, and each other, the requirement for highly reliable and scalable bandwidth is growing rapidly. Marc-Antoine Boutin, Director of Product Management at CENX, discusses this in-depth in a recent two-part VanillaPlus article, “Network slicing unleashes 5G opportunities, when service quality can be assured.”

    5G systems are expected, within the next few years, to be built in a way that enables network slicing; this will provide solutions to a broadening set of network demands. The network slicing that 4G networks enabled allowed for some new possibilities, but the opportunities offered by incorporating radio into network slicing with 5G will add considerable capacity and a greater user experience. 5G network slicing can provide connectivity for IoT devices requiring highly reliable, secure and available data services, while simultaneously providing high data speeds and low latency for a variety of other services. As Boutin put it, “the real benefit of 5G is that network slicing will enable application designers and network architects to build end-to-end virtual networks tailored to their applications’ requirements and implement throughout the entire network”.

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    Beyond the many benefits of 5G network slicing, there are some other considerations. In his article, Boutin goes on to discuss the possible pitfalls that the rapidly expanding and increasingly complex adoption of these 5G network slices could cause. He points out that if the virtualized requirements for those networks are not carefully designed and properly instantiated on physical networks through orchestrated software-defined networks, they could run slower than expected, consume more resources than anticipated, and become brittle and unreliable.

    As carriers are busy building their plans for how to develop their 5G network slices over the upcoming years, service assurance certainly must be top of mind. Boutin says, “end-to-end service assurance – extending through the RAN and other aspects of the mobile connection – will be key to ensuring that service level agreements are met, resources are used effectively… and customers will be happy”. If service assurance is carefully managed, the power and capacity provided by 5G network slicing will deliver capabilities that will help usher us into this world of greater-than-ever connectivity.

    To read part 1, click here. To read part 2, click here.  

    Meet with CENX at MWC to learn how our solution helps realize the full potential of 5G by providing end-to-end service assurance.

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

    Virtualization will NOC your SOCs Off!

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Feb 15, 2017 10:34:54 AM

    By now, many are aware of the benefits of virtualization, as its ability to offer the new, value added services has been well documented. But how is the increase of network big data going to impact a service provider’s ability to manage and monitor the quality of experience of its customers?

    Commonly, the responsibilities regarding customer care and maintaining network operations are allocated to a specific team or department, whether that’s in the Network Operations Center or the Service Operations Center. In order to monitor and survey the network, each of these groups use a distinct set of tools and processes, and the data in them is usually siloed.

    The Difference Between NOC and SOC

    Typically, the NOC is tasked with overseeing the performance of the network. Operators focus closely on monitoring network elements, such as routers and switches, and sites, like a mobile telephone switching office, to quickly zero in on latency issues or outages. Essentially, the NOC handles things that are literally broken within the network.

    Conversely, when one of those network elements break, the SOC helps to determine which customers are impacted by the issue. The SOC evaluates the status and availability of a service, and delivers information on the overall quality of that service and how it’s affecting end-users.

    You can imagine it as an ice cream truck on a hot summer day. The NOC makes sure that the ice cream machine is running smoothly, and the SOC ensures each customer gets the right amount of scoops.

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    Why the Need for Change?

    While the NOC may know what’s broken, and the SOC may know when a customer is experiencing a problem, service providers often have difficulty connecting this information together to gain a holistic view of the issue. This service “blind spot” results in the customer service process being very slow and frustrating for customers.

    An emerging trend among service provides has been to improve their customer service capabilities. The focus has shifted from the network to the customer as the need to deliver high quality of experience has been magnified in today’s highly competitive market. By connecting what happens in the NOC and SOC, service providers can:

    • Prevent customer churn
    • Improve the time it takes to resolve an issue
    • Gain deeper insight into network performance

    Overcoming the Service ‘Blind Spot’

    To overcome this service “blind spot”, service providers require a solution which lets them see what’s broken and which customers are impacted in a single pane. In order to bridge this gap, it’s crucial to be able to ingest, correlate, and visualize all network and service topology, inventory, fault, and performance data in a single pane, and in real time. Through this, service providers can achieve a harmonized view of the network and revolutionize their operations.

    Meet with CENX at MWC to learn how our solution addresses this service “blind spot” by changing the way service providers view their network.

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    Topics: Software-Defined Networking, Network Functions Virtualization, Network Operations

    The Need to Lock Down Service Assurance Standards

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Feb 8, 2017 10:24:28 AM

    With service providers now able to offer new agile, value-added services to their customers thanks to SDN and NFV technology, assuring service quality has never been more important.

    The industry to date has been characterized heavily by customized implementations, which has resulted in each service provider having a unique way of operating, from determining the state of services, to carrying out orders.

    In order to have a service assurance solution which can be easily deployed and implemented by service providers, standards need to be defined. CENX's CTO, Chris Purdy, discusses why getting these standards locked down are going to have a major impact on service providers: 

    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 see the entire network, in real-time, on 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

    SDN and NFV are Changing the OSS Game

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Feb 3, 2017 11:23:59 AM

    Service providers have begun to migrate towards cloud-based network services, as virtualization promises to increase network agility and flexibility. While SDN and NFV technology has many buzzing about the possibilities brought on by improved infrastructure, its impact on customer-facing activities needs to be considered.

    In the past, service providers relied on proprietary and isolated operations support systems (OSS) to support service fulfillment, delivery, and assurance. However, in order to keep pace with the increasing demands of customers and dynamism of networks, service providers require a new way of operating – one that’s more agile and scalable than legacy solutions.

    Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) has helped to fill that gap. This new software platform merges together elements of legacy OSS/BSS, SDN and NFV, and network infrastructure to provide the service deployment and assurance tools required to orchestrate high quality, on-demand services.

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    SDxCentral’s recently published 2017 Next-Gen OSS and the Rise of LSO Report examines the importance of LSO as a platform which service providers will use to innovate, and to scale their businesses.

    According to the report, the drivers for adoption of next-gen OSS and LSO stem from the increasing demands of customers, the competitive environment service providers find themselves in, and the emergence of open source software.

    Also highlighted in the report are:

    • Key attributes and requirements of next-gen OSS and LSO solutions
    • The MEF Model for LSO Functions
    • The relationship between LSO, SDN and NFV

    Finally, the report profiles some of the top vendors offering next-gen OSS and LSO products in the marketplace, illustrating key product differentiators. In this year’s edition of the report, CENX was identified as one of the companies driving innovation within the industry thanks to our solution’s ability to enable service providers to deliver agile, assured, and orchestrated services.

    To discuss more about the report’s findings, meet with a CENX representative during this month’s Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

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

    CENX Kicks Off 2017 with MEF Meetings

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jan 27, 2017 9:25:47 AM

    Earlier this week, CENX attended MEF’s Quarterly Members Meeting in Los Angeles, California to continue our involvement in the advancement of services delivered over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks.

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    The agenda for this first installment of MEF Quarterly Meetings in 2017 revolved around Third Network Services, open APIs, Reference Implementations, and of course new certification programs in the areas of LSO, SDN, and NFV.

    In additional to the technical and marketing sessions held to inform members about the ongoing initiatives and work being done to develop industry standards, as well as new certification programs for the coming year, this event provided the opportunity for members to collaborate and brainstorm new projects to support MEF’s Third Network vision.

    One issue that was highlighted during the four-day event were open APIs. CENX’s participation as a MEF member allowed us to be involved in important discussions on developing standardized, open-APIs to orchestrate services across multiple domain and multiple service provider networks.

    Since no one service provider network can reach everywhere in the world, the development of these standards are important to be able to make interoperability between service providers possible. This would allow for the expanded reach of dynamic services to more customers.

    Having achieved some major accomplishments in the last year, such as having published an industry endorsed white paper on Third Network Services, MEF shared its three critical goals for 2017:

    • Further development of technology and products
    • Next generation certification programs
    • Increasing membership community

    Visit CENX at our next event, Mobile World Congress, where we’ll be exhibiting at stand 2F50! Book a meeting to discuss end-to-end service assurance across hybrid physical and virtual infrastructure.

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

    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