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

    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

    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