We have hosted a number of workshops with customers, partners, analysts and public officials worldwide. Back in November we welcomed Light Reading analysts in Naperville, IL, who had meetings with IP Platforms’ leaders and joined a live demonstration at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).
‘[R&D work] is in the operations,’ Bhaskar Gorti, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)’s president of IP Platforms, told Light Reading without hesitation at a recent on-site visit: ‘Getting a network function to run in a virtualized network is fine, but the reality is that there will be a hybrid world of virtual and physical networks. How do you operate it?’ In fact, its Naperville, IL. offices are full of Lean Ops demos that show evidence of this R&D work.” – Alcatel-Lucent’s NFV Boss: Operations Is Key R&D.” by Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director at Light Reading.
“A visit to Alcatel’s Lucent’s Naperville, IL. Campus, west of Chicago, shed light on how the company is focusing its efforts around software and the cloud.” “Ted East showed us how easy it is to spin up services like firewalls in the cloud, thanks to SDN and NFV. Then he had us cause a network failure by playing Whack-a-Mole in order to demonstrate how fast the network can rebuild itself.” – “Alcatel-Lucent Field Trip” by Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor at The New IP.
CIC’s NFV Solutions Hub provides a truly immersive operational experience of running a cloud based telco using NFV technologies. The hub advances collaboration with network operators and ecosystem partners by enabling real solutions to be built and validated as well as providing a hosted cloud facility for the Alcatel-Lucent community.
The most visible outcome involves Proof of Concept (PoC) projects, high impact demonstrations and practical assistance with onboarding and validating Virtual Network Functions (VNF). Light Reading’s team experienced CIC’s Lean NFV Ops program, which showcases a fully virtualized end-to-end VoLTE environment and a wide range of service lifecycle use cases and operations.
An interactive demonstration deploys Rapport Cloud Communications and IPR&T Cloud Mobile Core (vEPC) working with Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), CloudBand Management System, and Nuage Network’s Virtualized Service Platform (VSP). This is all running live using commercially available software including CloudBand Nodes which leverage OpenStack and is widely considered the most stable and mature platform for NFV. Furthermore, this session also promoted the role of our Ecosystem Program with over 60 members and positioned Services and Consulting practices, which are currently helping to deliver 6 commercial NFV projects and discussed the impact of Bell Labs research findings.
The team at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).
The Lean NFV Ops demonstration experience was launched at Mobile World Congress in March and has been turned into a program that has been featured in 70+ events and workshops worldwide, engaging 1,600+ industry representatives.
These help not only discuss and validate fundamental concepts but also gather invaluable customer insights in the process. Intel’s Data Center Group Leadership singled out our program in their Investor Day where Alcatel-Lucent was the only partner featured in the demonstration zone. Intel has also funded and sponsored our most recent video, which is now available on TelecomTV.
Customized Lean NFV Ops workshops, whether at Executive Briefing Centers (EBC), at customer premise or online, can be easily booked online.
I would like to take this chance to thank Ted East and Phil Tilley for their input.
“In the network space there is a big opportunity for growth.” “The communications industry is moving to a cloud based infrastructure […] with standard high volume servers in a virtualized environment running in a dynamic, automated way.” – Diane Bryant, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Data Center Group. Intel Data Center Day. Santa Clara, August 27, 2015
“This is probably the most exciting time to be in network infrastructure.” “It is a market at an inflection point.” “Until now communications infrastructure has been built on purposely built fixed function appliances.” “Network service operators spend roughly $160B a year on equipment […] and run a $2.2T services business.” “Most of that has historically been a voice based business, but with more and more users and more and more devices connecting to the network you see an explosion of data traffic.” “This is creating an upside-down business problem where, sometime in the future, it will cost them more to deploy, operate and maintain those networks than the revenue generated.” “The answer to that problem statement is to adopt many of the principles of data center and IT infrastructure and cloud […] to take advantage of volume server economics and virtualization technologies, and to pool resources and assets across a number of workloads.” “By the way, Alcatel-Lucent is demonstrating [NFV, Networks Functions Virtualization] here this afternoon. You will see pretty sleek demos.” – Sandra Rivera, Vice President Data Center Group, General Manager Network Platforms Group. Intel Data Center Day. Santa Clara, August 27, 2015.
Note: the above is a collage of selected quotes, which have been edited for readability. Listen to the source webcast for the actual talking points and context.
Alcatel-Lucent Team (from left to right): Jose de Francisco, Bob Haddlelton, Ted East.
Last week our team went back to the Silicon Valley to join Intel’s Investors Day focusing on Data Center technologies in Santa Clara. The event’s agenda included presentations, a data center tour and several demonstrations. Here is the link to the webcast covering the executive talks.
The demonstration area showcased Intel’s projects and featured Alcatel-Lucent as a pioneer in the carrier cloud space and a member of Intel’s Network Builders ecosystem.
You can see Ted East running the Lean NFV Ops demo in the above pictures. We both ended up engaged in parallel conversations when addressing questions from different investors gathering at our demo station. By the way, our team was also present at both of Intel’s Network Builder and Partner Summits as well as at the prominent Developer Forum (IDF). All three events were held in San Francisco the previous week:
At last week’s Investors Day our team continued to validate interest in Lean NFV Ops practices, which call for:
- operational effectiveness tied to highly efficient utilization levels
- starting and remaining lean at any scale, this being key to dynamic networks.
As quoted above, the telecommunications industry is shifting gears by adopting general purpose computing in the form of x86 technology. We discussed NFV’s (Network Functions Virtualization) service agility subjected to real life RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability) scenarios, as well as performance expectations and smart load placement in that environment.
We talked about the role of EPA (Enhanced Platform Awareness) and data plane acceleration in particular: DPDK (Data Plane Acceleration Kit) is a packet processing example leveraged by Alcatel-Lucent teams working on sophisticated network functions such as vEPC (Virtual Evolved Packet Core) and Rapport’s vIMS (Virtual Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem). Some of the discussions included Intel’s storage compression optimization as well.
Here is a quick outline of the solutions involved in the current version of the Lean NFV Ops’ end-to-end demonstration system:
- OSS (Operations Support System) – Motive Dynamic Operations
- SDN (Software Defined Networking) – Nuage Networks
- MANO (Management & Orchestration) – CloudBand Management System
- vIMS (Virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem) – Rapport
- vEPC (Virtual Enhanced Packet Core) – IP Mobile Core
- ANALYTICS – Bell Labs
- VIM (Virtual Infrastructure Manager) – OpenStack
- NFVI (Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure) – CloudBand Nodes
- PARTNERS – CloudBand Ecosystem
Last but not least, this was another very rewarding event and there is a need for thanking Bob, Andy for demo support and Intel’s Jon, Lisa, Christie and Jeni for all of the help provided this past week.
Photo Album: Lean NFV Ops at Intel’s Network Builders, Developer Forum and Investor Day.
“One area receiving a lot of focus this cycle is NFV (Network Functions Virtualization). We’ve started an upstream NFV sub-team for OpenStack that is tracking and helping to drive requirements and development efforts in support of NFV use cases […] The main consumers of NFV are Service providers (telecommunication providers and the like) who are looking to accelerate the deployment of new network services, and to do that, need to eliminate the constraint of slow renewal cycle of hardware appliances, which do not autoscale and limit their innovation. […] The opportunities for OpenStack in the NFV space appear to be huge.”
Left: with CloudBand’s Guy Shemesh at Alcatel-Lucent’s Tech Symposium’s demo station.
Right: Bell Labs “Networked Cloud” demonstration presented at Tech Symposium – Silicon Valley.
I just finished listening to Red Hat’s Nicolas Lemieux and CloudBand’s Idan Green who delivered a 30 minute webinar on OpenStack for NFV. This is worth watching. Here is the link to CloudBand’s NFV Mashup Series, which is hosted by Valerie Noto. On that webpage you will find this and 9 other presentations at the time of posting this article.
Today’s webinar reminded me of a Bell Labs project that we unveiled at Mobile World Congress in 2012 and further developed for Alcatel-Lucent’s Tech Symposium Silicon Valley. Bell Labs’ “Networked Cloud” PoC (Proof of Concept) helped illustrate benefits behind distributed “cloud-and-network” systems while taking full advantage of CloudBand’s management system and cloud nodes.
I ended up conducting quite a few demonstrations of this project for network operators, industry and financial analysts because predictive analytics fueled with smart algorithms cleverly figured out where to best place a given load anytime. This exercise factored both cloud nodes and network capacity, resource optimization practices, and the actual application requirements and load impact, coupled with deterministic behaviors subject to SLA (Service Level Agreements).
There were several use cases worth considering. Demonstration wise, it made sense to first focus our conversation on the one that could be best visualized and experienced. As an example, sudden demand growth led to the automatic spinning of VM (Virtual Machines), onboarding the right applications, instantiating and deploying a given service (enterprise productivity and collaboration applications for that one demo), and scaling in the process.
- This scenario’s narrative talked to taking down silos and gaining visibility to improve both server utilization levels and network capacity, all under a centralized management system such as CloudBand. This assumed dramatically shorter lead times, more efficient power consumption and subsequent higher ROA (Return on Assets). Though, the wow factor was delivered by operating under QoS (Quality of Service) parameters, such as latency constrains with a SLA in place, being the result of intelligently placing loads at the edge of the network, closer to the end user for performance sake.
- Concepts such as monitoring, data correlation, predictive analytics and service continuity would come to the surface under a second use case. Worth emphasizing that both use cases take advantage of the distributed nature of the networked cloud paradigm, which the above map (right screen) helped visualize as the demo progressed.
- This second use case showed what specific node-and-link combination would be best performing at the time of re-instantiating an application. The objective was to prevent service degradation when network traffic worsens for any reason. There were A/B comparison scenarios facing the same issues, such as a network link being compromised.
- “A” showed the known behavior of a conventional architecture where the user experience would either be negatively impacted or, alternatively, addressed by means of costly and lengthy over engineering and, therefore, extremely poor and self-defeating ROA.
- “B” presented the benefits of distributed systems under the “networked cloud” paradigm, where performance was sustained in an unparalleled cost efficient fashion with loads dynamically placed and relocated as needed; all being back-end stuff that is completely transparent to the end user.
More recently, our EPC (Evolved Packet Core) team conducted a similar NFV demonstration at Mobile World Congress 2014 where the end user’s mobile experience featured video streaming instead. NFV’s distributed architecture is key to also managing not just service continuity and self-healing, but also: resource isolation in multi-tenant environments, security, RAS (Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) and overall service delivery and lifecycle assurance under SLA.
Some other use cases are related to regulatory compliance, which can involve: lawful intercept, local data protection mandates, as well as regional coverage requirements and engineering for no-single-point-of-failure.
Source: courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent and Red Hat. CloudBand’s NFV Mashup Series #10.
FOSS (Free Open Source Software) is becoming a de-facto standard in the telecommunications industry. Some years ago, my team used Euclyptus to deploy and manage cloud computing infrastructure. We needed to create a number of virtual machines and that initiative helped with working on a hybrid AWS-compatible (Amazon Web Services) environment. When projects became more focused on communication networks we then took advantage of CloudStack, which is also positioned as turnkey IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Here is a link to a presentation discussing CloudStack in the context of NFV.
More recently, OpenStack has made significant inroads in this nascent space and is part of trials for virtual: CPE (Customer Premises Equipment), CDN (Content Delivery Network), DNS (Domain Name System), AAA (Authentication, Authorization, Accounting), SBC (Session Border Controller), EPC (Evolved Packet Core), and IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem). In many cases NFV’s MANO (Management and Orchestration) interfaces directly with OpenStack and in some others that is the application’s EMS (Element Management System, or virtual equivalent) job, depending on the workflow.
So, is OpenStack enough to support NFV? I addressed Bell Lab’s “Networked Cloud” research demo as an example where “OpenStack-as-is” does not happen to be yet equipped to address NFV’s own challenges. To be more specific, we are talking about those presented by distributed carrier cloud systems, sophisticated networking, more complex transactions, CPU intensive packet processing and high availability in multi-tenant environments.
As discussed by Nicolas in today’s webinar, NFV injects workload dependencies spanning: control and data planes, signal processing, storage; and more strict requirements for performance, determinism and RAS. These items impact projects shown in the upper part of the above graphic and there are OpenStack Foundation teams looking into these:
Table source: OpenStack NFV Use Cases.
Note that Red Hat is also addressing KVM (Kernel Based Virtual Machine) as the open source hypervisor, which creates and runs the VMs; supports libvirt for node management APIs beyond what’s provided by hypervisors; and works with DPDK, Intel’s Data Plane Development Kit with the drivers to accelerate packet processing on x86 platforms.
What follows is the architecture of our integrated joint solution aiming to bring together the best of carrier and IT (Information Technologies) worlds with NFV in mind. This also takes SDN (Software Defined Networking) into consideration.
Picture source: courtesy of Alcatel-Lucent and Red Hat. See CloudBand’s NFV Mashup Series #10.
“Both companies are creating the basic building blocks of a distributed cloud based on OpenStack and the foundational infrastructure for a best of breed open NFV Platform. Red Hat and CloudBand are set to help accelerate NFV for service provider networks.”