“This interactive demonstration shows the positive impact of agile service launch subject to Reliability, Availability, Serviceability (RAS) scenarios. It features an application centered system involving sophisticated Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and integrates Operations Support System (OSS), NFV’s Management and Orchestration (MANO) as well as Software Defined Networking (SDN) under a modular and scalable approach.”
“In addition to Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio, which is represented by Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), CloudBand Management Platform (CBMS) and Cloud Node, Nuage Networks, Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC), Virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) our conversation illustrates Ecosystem examples involving third party partners, findings from Bell Labs Research and presents opportunities for following up with hands-on activities at the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC).”
00:00 – Hi, my name is Jose. We are going to discuss operations in the context of NFV, Network Functions Virtualization. We will do that for the purpose of delivering service agility because launching new applications in the marketplace should be as easy as getting them deployed with just one click.
00:30 – This is a real environment, this is not a proof of concept. These are products that are either available today or in production in 2015. Namely Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), the OSS, Nuage Networks’ SDN (Software Defined Networking) framework, the CloudBand platform, which manages the lifecycle of the VNFs (Virtual Network Functions) as well as orchestrating the underlying cloud infrastructure. Last but not least, we will also discuss findings from Bell Labs’ research. To complete the environment that we are operating with today, you will see a fully virtualized RAN (Radio Access Network) as well as the mobile core with the vEPC (virtual Evolved Packet Core) and vIMS (virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem), all working together to deliver this VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution) live video session.
01:20 – We are going to follow two basic principles in this demonstration. Principle number one: these are very sophisticated systems and we are bringing them together, therefore, there is no denial that we need to abstract out complexity to deliver simplicity, that way we can manage operations. Principle number two: no matter what we do in the background operationally speaking, the user experience, the video in this case, should continue to play completely unscratched. At the end of this demonstration we will review these two principles to check how we did.
01:50 – Deploying any application should be as easy as… and here is the virtualization catalog that we use in our labs at the Cloud Innovation Center, it should be as easy as selecting what I need and launching the application to the NFV Operations Center. The heavy lifting is actually performed by CloudBand, the MANO (Management and Orchestration) platform. It understands the application requirements, the lifecycle, and will make sure that things talk to the right components to spin up virtual machines and onboard the service.
02:20 – Moreover, now we need for traffic to flow through this new application, this new service. I am now talking to Nuage Network’s SDN (Software Defined Networking) framework to get that going in a split second. So, I am now working on SFC (Service Function Chaining). And there you are.
02:45 – Now, let’s continue to test more things in the marketplace in real time. I am now delivering yet another application: a content filtering service. Maybe I should also deploy a WebRTC (Web Real Time Communications) server. And here it is. By the way, all the virtual machines in green color are carrying load this minute, the virtual machines shown in blue are on standby. These other are mated pairs for reliability so that we can work in HA, this is a High Availability environment. Moreover, virtual machines laid horizontally are services and products from third party partners also onboarded on the CloudBand platform.
03:25 – As you see, we need to do some more service chaining, and we are now working again with Nuage Networks’s SDN. I am going to do the chaining for this one application. Note that this is fully programmable, everything is fully automated.
03:40 – Let’s discuss what happens when a network operator becomes victim of success. That would be a situation where this video service becomes very popular because it works well. There is [unplanned] pent up demand with more subscribers using the service. Therefore traffic grows. Let’s simulate that kind of situation. These are load generators which I am going to work with to conduct a stress test. As you can see, traffic is ramping up already. The question now is, will we have enough capacity available to meet new demand? Things are not looking that good… but as we detect this trend thanks to Bell Labs analytics, the platform starts spinning up new virtual machines and onboarding necessary services so that we can get some relief. [As a result] now we are working with new subscribers without a glitch.
04:40 – The opposite is also true. Let’s say that there is no longer that much demand for this one service. There aren’t so many subscribers. Traffic is no longer flowing through our system at the same scale. Let’s simulate that. Traffic is going down this minute. The very same way we were scaling and creating more capacity before, we are now going to take down all of those added systems so that we can make the underlying resources for the next batch of successful applications to utilize. As you see, the ones in red are continuously being monitored so that we can clean up and, once again, gracefully terminate those services.
05:20 – We can do all of these things because we are working in a data center environment. These are CloudBand’s Cloud Nodes. This is COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) infrastructure, these are not dedicated servers. Therefore, we can continue to spin up new virtual machines and onboard applications. We can continue to reuse these resources [compute, memory, storage, networking] at very high utilization levels over and over.
05:50 – If you are successful, in addition to experiencing demand and coping with capacity… at some point you will be facing updates, upgrades… maintenance events. Let’s simulate that too. This is a RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability) test. We could start by opening a maintenance window, the more applications we have, the harder it is to find those at the right time without disrupting the video experience, the user experience. We could trigger a network failure instead, some issue that impacts QoS (Quality of Service) or, perhaps, a cloud failure that could involve a corrupted virtual machine. Let’s cause that last one.
06:30 – The machine that has been compromised has been flagged [in red]. The load has already been placed on the mated pair. There was [service continuity] no disruption of any kind as far as the user experience is concerned. Be have been able to do that thanks to smart placement combined with a distributed architecture. The data center that you see on the left, DC number one, is based at a central location where we have consolidated assets for the purpose of delivering cost efficiencies. [On the right] data center number two is at a distributed location closer to the network’s edge for performance sake instead.
07:10 – Everything that we have been discussing up to this point is available from Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio in 2015. In the next few minutes, I will share with you research findings from Bell Labs projects. These relate to analytics for smart load placement and autonomics, that is machine learning for NFV.
07:30 – You were able to notice that as I moved the load to the other data center, the service was not disrupted but I lost HA (High Availability) [by operating in a simplex environment instead]. Now I need to look for the best placement for the new mated pair that will become my new backup should something happen to the virtual machine that’s carrying the load right now. The question is: where should I do that?
07:55 – Bell Labs’ recommendations engine is checking cloud requirements and conditions, it couples that with equivalent network requirements and conditions, it understands what any given application needs in the lifecycle. It reads the contract because it does not make sense for me to deploy something in a more expensive environment, which would defeat my business case and cloud economics. By the same token, I cannot deploy the load in an inferior environment, which would not meet the SLA (Service Level Agreement). Additional policies: these could be engineering events or any other kind of rules. This could be weather conditions because I wouldn’t like to move the load to a data center that is going to be compromised by terrible weather for that matter.
08:45 – If I like this recommendation which prompts me to move the load from “cloud one” to the “Barcelona data center” I could just click “accept” and move forward. What if there was a better option? I am going to ask the recommendations engine to present another option. In this other case it says that I should be moving the load to a different data center closer to my next destination, so that the service is provided closer to my location.
09:10 – In any case, at any given point of time, I should be able to do RCA (Root Cause Analysis). For that purpose we get to display fine grained, correlated analytics. We built a dynamic dashboard that we can always check to asses the current situation and do troubleshooting accordingly. The various metrics come, and are fed, by the different solutions that you see represented in the smaller screens on each side of the NFV Ops Center. If this was a false alarm I would then click on “stand down” and nothing would executed. The reality is that false alarms can happen. If I need to buy more time to get more data, to do further analysis, I would then click on “standby” instead.
10:10 – There is research on autonomics as I was sharing before. This means that the recommendations engine, time after time, learns from these behaviors and it becomes more predictive and, eventually, it gives you even better custom recommendations further optimizing system performance as well as any other kind of efficiencies.
10:30 – I am going to accept the recommendation that works best for me, which is the first one. In the background, what you would see are the very same things that we saw early on: virtual machines being spun up, applications being onboarded, networks being created… with all of that happening literally in just minutes. This is very different from PMO (Present Mode of Operations) where it takes filling out forms, scheduling meetings, talking to a lot of people. Then it takes maybe hours, if not days, perhaps, weeks before we get anything done. Here things are programmable, fully automated, and things happen in real time as you can see by means of this demonstration.
11:10 – We have also brought to you a single pane of glass to abstract out complexity. When drilling down, it pays to go to the UI (User Interfaces) of the specific solutions. This [single pane of glass] is not an Alcatel-Lucent product, this is just illustrating a requirement from many of our customers who are asking for the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) from this various solutions to build their own dashboards and their own screens.
11:30 – Well, this completes the demonstration. As I was saying early on: a 100% real, this is no PoC (Proof of Concept), all of the products with the exception of Bell Labs research. which we just discussed, are currently available or in production in 2015, this year. Thank you.
I am glad to share that I will be presenting as well as joining a panel discussion at Software Telco Congress. I picked the below two topics because the more we talk about operations and making things happen in the context of NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) the more making the business case as well as understanding behavioral economics happen to be of the essence.
When working on emerging technologies, technological prowess alone might not move the needle close enough to the tipping point. The fact is that “brain-ware” and organizational dynamics can be overlooked and, in turn, become harder to address than just figuring out and debating hardware and software roadmaps.
Presentation: The Impact of NFV on Service Provider Economics.
Tuesday, 08/12/14 10:00-10:45am
“While many of the questions around NFV focus on the roadmap to achieving a virtualized network infrastructure, the ultimate question is how will it impact the service provider from an economic perspective. Without that proof point, it’s difficult to make the case for NFV. What kind of impact should operators expect NFV have on OPEX? What markets will NFV open for SPs to pursue with greater success? Will the introduction of NFV open up the opportunity for new lines of revenue and new service offerings? How will this transition impact end customers in both SMB and Enterprise markets?”
Panel discussion: Making the Transition to Software – Are We Ready?
Wednesday, 08/13/14 10:45-11:30am
“One of the barriers to achieving the software telco is the support of the existing infrastructure, especially at the edge of the network, and while most providers can ill afford to make wholesale network changes for fear of negatively impacting revenues, they also realize the move to software is a necessity. How can new SDN and NFV technologies be deployed? What strategies are being discussed and which make sense and which don’t? There are number of opportunities that do not require service providers to boil the proverbial ocean.”
Looking forward to seeing you at Software Telco Congress, collocated with IT EXPO, which is promoted as the “business technology” event.
“Cloud and virtualization continue to be attractive to manufacturers, carriers and enterprises (…) Value in terms of resiliency, survivability and supportability are trumping price. This is an interesting perspective when you consider that legacy communications systems manufacturers used to hang their hat on five-nines of premise-based reliability. It’s a new world!” – by Chris Vitek with the Society of Telecommunication Consultants.
“The IIT RTC Conference and Expo is a globally recognized collaborative event, where industry and academia connect. Leveraging its unique academic setting, this annual conference brings together technical professionals and business executives from the data and telecommunications industry, standards bodies, policy and regulatory institutions, and academic educators and researchers to promote an open exchange of ideas to lead future development in the rapidly changing field of real-time communications.” – IIT RTC Site.
“Throughout the conference, I received multiple compliments from conference participants regarding the outstanding conference content, and the high quality of the speakers and presentations. From creating track abstracts, to assembling steering committee’s, recruiting speakers, organizing the content, and moderating the sessions, an awful lot of work goes into creating a successful event. The growing reputation of this conference within the industry is a reflection on an incredible team of track chairs who generously volunteer their time and expertise.” – by Warren Bent, Content Director at IIT Real Time Communications Conference.
This time last week I was presenting at IIT Real Time Communications Conference. I am very happy to share that both the panel discussion and that my presentation were well received. It is also worth noticing that the presentation’s subject was interesting enough to provoke a variety of reactions in the audience.
My recollection is that about 30 people gathered in the “Alumni Lounge” and I would like to thank everyone, as well as those who approached me to shake hands and furthered the discussion afterwards. Some voiced different opinions, which definitely contributed to the conversation. But, I would like to express that don’t see how fostering a “net-head vs. bell-head” approach answers some of the most pressing challenges before us. The work that many of us already do falls at the intersection between IT and Carrier technologies as well as business modeling wise: and that was my talk’s driving narrative.
I am also glad about having worked with Dennis Goodhart, Principal and Founder of IP Network Consulting, as a Co-Chair of the Cloud Track. There also is a need for highlighting Carol David’s leadership and Warren Bent’s dedication and organizational skills, who are this conference’s Chairman and Content Director respectively. This is my third IIT RTC Conference and I look forward to being back next year.
I joined a panel discussion with Vonage’s Alan Bugos, Vice President of Technology and Tropo’s Frank Geck, Director of Sales. Our session was moderated by Eric Krapf, Editor at TechWeb. My main contribution to this conference was covering the value of the carrier cloud in the RTC, Real Time Communications, ecosystem, this being a new paradigm where cloud and communication networks intersect in everyone’s best interest.
What follows is just a collection of random thoughts and is not necessarily a recap of my talk. Some of these come from my other conversations at the conference.
I am also adding a few of my charts. I personally enjoy looking into visualization techniques that display relevant information in clearly structured ways. Visual facilitation should help better communicate and spur others’ imagination. The goal is not just to push a set of messages in one direction but to make it a two way street by prompting even richer thoughts, which this conference is all about.
Innovating in the cloud age.
We are now innovating at the intersection between the cloud and network systems and creating something new and, interestingly enough, disruptive as a result. This brave new world is characterized by dramatically improved economics, accelerated changes and innovativeness based on (a) co-creation projects with customers worldwide, (b) partnering with other vendors, which also includes coopetion involving otherwise competitors, as well as (c) actively contributing to thriving industry groups whether related to standard bodies or thriving open source communities.
No single player can go alone in the cloud age because the value of the whole is definitely greater than the mere addition of its parts. Moreover, worthy ideas can come from anywhere. This is a space where critical mass is increasing with velocity. Making inroads in the fast emerging carrier cloud space entails an industry wide effort and cross-pollinating across IT and Carrier domains. While individual contributions will certainly make a difference, it takes multi-disciplinary teams and business ecosystems to make things happen in today’s day and age.
Human Factors Engineering.
In practical terms, this is about quite tangible next generation architectures: solutions improving the financial and operational performance of the overall service delivery environment and, most importantly, significantly better user experiences.
These are experiences that span development, operations, compliance, marketing, procurement,…, and last but not least a forefront of end users in consumer, enterprise verticals and the pubic sector. The carrier cloud’s use cases transcend the underlying portfolio of technologies and give meaning and sense of direction for what we are doing.
Equally relevant is addressing what users need not to wrestle with because we can do a better job at abstracting out complexity, streamlining workflows and automating processes and policies. Precisely so, addressing human factors engineering is a critical success factor. Just as an example, a DevOps’ reality check on human latency, manual labor and mutually depended processes makes this principle quite clear.
The new “lean & fit” telco.
Carrying on with a traditional silo by silo implementation approach defeats the purpose. Deploying vertically integrated stacks in black boxes typically engineered by just a single vendor is not favored either. Technical prowess alone will not win the day: modular architectures, dynamic ecosystems forming sustainable value chains are of the essence. The new industry’s DNA optimizes for innovativeness and unprecedented efficiencies.
The new telco should strive to be both “lean” and “fit” for service. “Lean” practices are not just meant for start-ups. Incumbents in the telecommunications space can also boost the bottom line under business and operational models that are proven to be more responsive, dynamic and quicker to right scale, growing and degrowing with the demand curves. Our industry also needs to be “fit” for service to deliver on Service Level Agreements and overall carrier grade reliability at the end of the day. Once again, the answer relies on innovating a the intersection.
Raising above infrastructure to set a new vantage point.
We need a new breed of platforms where rigidity is not the default answer to robustness and reliability. Future proofing requires the kind of automation and on demand scalability that’s subject to programmability and, therefore, continuous improvement.
We also need to be in constant motion so that service delivery can create and adapt to market demand, changing loads, contingencies as well as conditions set by any given lifecycle. And all of that needs to take effect with no downtime. This also has to do with policies, predictive analytics and a level of intelligence, machine learning in this case, which yields business intelligence coupled with self-organizing systems orchestrating the kind of large distributed environments that leading telcos operate.
We are acting on a model where applications are context aware engines that drive networking behaviors, all intervolved by cloud computing’s effectiveness. This is a new space where conventional instruments and network elements are superseded by software defined assets. Hence, carrier cloud applications themselves become applications known as VNFs, which stands for Virtual Network Functions. By the way, this goes far beyond “virtualization” in spite of its early naming as NFV, network functions virtualization. This new software defined environment rises above conventional infrastructures.
Deconstructing the stack.
As discussed in my talk, we are first decoupling control and data planes, which better enables virtualizalized solutions capitalizing on COTS, commercial off the shelf hardware and software. In other words, many functions and traffic do no longer have to strictly live together in the same physical network gear. By the same token, that one box might not need to be purposely engineered to that specific end at all. This results in supply chain commoditization lowering both cost and barriers to innovate. We also need to consider the fact that one size does not always fit all. There always is a need for understanding any existing trade-offs between performance and cost, as well as architectural options.
We are deconstructing the stack in the process and coming out at the other end with the coupling NFV with SDN, software defined networking. SDN focuses on optimizing traffic, and overall network behavior, network control as a result. I don’t mean to oversimplify and would like to write other posts to expand upon this means. The rationale behind the growing interest in engineering next generation SDPs, Service Delivery Platforms, and OSS, Operations Support Systems, in the digital communications industry has to do with connecting dots: delivering a pool of shared and fully automated network resources across the board as an example. A PaaS, platform as a service, model is best comprised of a modular and open solution stack. In some cases, open means “open source” while in many other it translates into “extensible” also thanks to APIs, application programmable interfaces, that expose available resources as needed.
Service Level Agreements make all the difference.
We have seen how low cost cloud providers have prioritized affordability and successfully addressed underserved markets. Still, there are well known cases where that was done at expense of adequate service levels that the more demanding and mission critical systems require.
That helps explain why many enterprises thought of building out their own “private” clouds to best serve their corporate interests. In these private clouds multi-tenancy is about supporting a portfolio of corporate applications and services that transcend business unit domains and functional areas. In this case, the tenants are internal customers, in-house teams and their information and communication technologies. However, this also means that the enterprise is not fully leveraging all of the cost efficiencies in terms of opex and capex that basic cloud economics bring to the table. The carrier cloud showcases private and public angles. The former refers to the network operators’ own systems, which are largely leveraged by in-house teams, contractors and partners. The latter is about cloud services offered to the development community and addressable markets.
As far as real time, mashups and unified communications are concerned, developers working on multimedia services (voice, video, data) with QoS, Quality of Service, would not need to replicate available assets and processes and, most importantly, can also take advantage of the right SLA, Service Level Agreements. Note that this is a key carrier cloud differentiator when compared to low cost cloud services given the fact that cloud and WAN resources can be orchestrated as an end to end system. Specially so when they happen to be intertwined in a software defined environment. Moreover, the rollout of VoLTE, Voice over LTE, with high definition voice, is supported by IMS, IP Multimedia Subsystem deployments. From a carrier cloud perspective, this becomes a platform of virtual network functions that scale on demand and can be leveraged by applications in the real time communications space.
This is also why network operators and OTT, over the top, service providers can work together where common interests intersect. This new play makes business models such as wholesale and MVNO, mobile virtual network operator, a new lease in life. By the same token, enterprises and media outlets thinking of building private clouds are now presented with an alternative end-to-end option (bundled cloud and network services) that is engineered to meet performance, security and control requirements. That should be offered as a cost efficient solution compared to a private cloud build out.
Thanks again and I will welcome any opportunities to continue our discussions and further explore these opportunities. Hope that if you made it to this year’s IIT Real Time Communications Conference you had a good time too.