Failure-proofing Next Gen Networks

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1 Failure-proofing Next Gen Networks A Talari Networks White Paper INSIDE Accomplishing the mandated level of network reliability as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) move to VoIP, add support for video, and integrate voice and data networks requires an integrated and comprehensive look at the emergency operators network architecture. This article discusses some of the issues faced by the transition to IP within the wide area network (WAN) and proposes a network architecture that will provide the required reliability Talari Networks /

2 Introduction Emergency response operations deal with life and death situations on a regular basis. Callers must be able to reach call center agents 24/7/365. Service can t be interrupted not even briefly and communications must be clear. Anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable. Accomplishing this level of reliability as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) move to VoIP, add support for video, and integrate voice and data networks requires an integrated and comprehensive look at the emergency operators network architecture. This article discusses some of the issues faced by the transition to IP within the wide area network (WAN) and proposes a network architecture that will provide the required reliability. Operations are Vulnerable to Failed and Low Quality Links The FCC Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) requires that the Emergency Services Network should be designed such that no single failure or interruptive incident (i.e. a cable cut) will create a system outage. 1 In order to accomplish this goal and protect a single network link failure from creating a network outage, network architects have traditionally relied on redundant links and automatic failover. Typically, in this type of architecture, a failover mechanism senses the malfunction and activates a route change so traffic begins to use the redundant link. But often that self- healing process takes some time to implement; routing convergence time can take between six seconds to a minute. During that time period, existing calls will go silent, some call sessions may disconnect and new calls cannot be initiated. Even more concerning, the effect of a hard failure may not be limited to the calls themselves. In many operations, the network also supports a control channel carrying CallManager- to- CallManager traffic. In the best case, there would be dead air. In the worst case, calls would drop, the phones would have to reregister and the CallManagers would get out of synch, which could take about two minutes to recover. A less visible failure - a soft failure - can be even more disruptive over a longer period of time. A link may have quality issues such as jitter, delay, or packet loss that limit its ability to transport voice data reliably. Many of the failover solutions available today only recognize, however, that the link is up not that it is degraded. Often, the only way a network administrator would become aware of a circuit brownout is through a network monitoring tool. In those circumstances, manual intervention may be required to route voice traffic to a better performing backup link. During that intervening time period, voice quality will be compromised and manual intervention will then be required to return to the primary state when the brownout condition is resolved. 1 Focus Group 1B. Long Term Issues for Emergency/E Services Report 4. FCC NRIC VII. Sept 2004 Failure Proofing Next Gen Networks 2

3 Data Network is as important as VoIP While call quality and high availability are necessary to ensure the voice network is operating, the network connections to systems such as Auto Location Information and Radio Dispatch are just as critical to PSAP operations. When an analog voice system was used, this data network was a distinctly different network. But as call centers move to VoIP technology, network architects have an option to combine both types of data on a single network or keep them distinct. At first glance, it would appear that separating the two networks prevents a single failure from affecting both the voice and data networks. But in reality, to accomplish fully redundant networks and distinct networks would require four different network access links one primary and one backup for voice and one primary and one backup for data. But, in many locations there aren t that many truly diverse service providers. Building distinct data and voice networks that are dependent on the same ISP for network access means that the two systems aren t actually distinct: the infrastructure and network costs are doubled but both networks are vulnerable to a single network link outage. A better architecture is a combined data and voice network. This minimizes complexity, cost and management overhead. But this brings with it a unique set of challenges primarily in the area of traffic prioritization and bandwidth reservation. In a shared network, it is critical to ensure that there is available bandwidth for each type of traffic and that different traffic types can be identified and given different levels of prioritization. Mitigating the risks associated with VoIP and converged networks Fortunately, there are solutions available in the market today with features that resolve these issues, including mitigating hard and soft failures before they even affect the service. Network architects should expect their network to have the following capabilities: Sub- second failover The switch from failed link to operative backup should be performed so quickly that no calls are dropped and the failure is transparent to callers. Quality monitoring Every link should be continuously monitored for quality and technology should be in place so that traffic is routed off of underperforming links before call quality is affected and communication becomes compromised. Packet duplication VoIP calls and other types of data can be selectively duplicated and sent over two diverse paths simultaneously, ensuring that no single link failure or poor circuit quality will impact a call. Network diversity At least two completely diverse links are required to have any real redundancy and ideally both a wired and a wireless network should be supported. Sufficient bandwidth Available bandwidth must be adequate to handle widespread emergencies that can result in very large numbers of simultaneous calls. Intra- session load balancing A single session should be able to simultaneously use more than one link to speed up large data transfers such as database backups without impacting voice and critical system traffic. Failure Proofing Next Gen Networks 3

4 Case Study: Maricopa County 911 The Maricopa Region is a consortium of local municipalities in the Phoenix metropolitan area that handles emergency calls through 25 call centers. The dual hub- and- spoke network has two geographically separate network centers. One serves as the head- end for a T3 Frame Relay network, while the other provides up to 20 Megabits of backup bandwidth over IPSec VPNs to each call center. Should the Frame Relay network fail, routers running Enhanced Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP) failover data to the IPSec VPNs. While this configuration had performed adequately since it was deployed in 2003, during a failover it could take EIGRP up to eight seconds to transfer data to the backup VPN circuits. In 2011, Maricopa Region implemented a solution from Talari Networks that provided sub- second failover to the VPNs should a Frame Relay link fail. The solution also monitors link quality and can quickly migrate traffic from poor- quality to high- quality links and allows for the consolidation of data and voice networks. According to the Technical Manager at Maricopa, One of the most intriguing aspects of Talari is the ability to failover off suspect links on a sub- second timeframe. Talari s Solution The FCC Network Reliability and Interoperability Council (NRIC) requires that... PSAPs should and will deploy IP networks within the PSAP, between the PSAP and the sources of calls coming into the system and between the PSAP and other responders and emergency service agencies. 2 But, traditional IP routing technologies alone is not enough the networks must meet a high standard as detailed in the network recommendation section of the NRIC report. To paraphrase, these networks must be design to: Minimize service interruptions by employing management and continuous monitoring to detect anomalies immediately. Such that no single failure or interruptive incident will create a system outage Negotiate the highest quality of service end- to- end in order to get the best audio, text and video available Identify calls and treat them on a priority basis Talari Networks solution accomplishes these goals by aggregating multiple diverse network links together and then continuously monitoring the quality and availability of each link, identifying and directing traffic down the aggregated path so that prioritization is maintained, each class of application receives the quality it needs to perform, and outages are detected and avoided instantly. This solution meets the requirements established by the NRIC with the added benefit of being to do so over private or public networks, thus allowing operators to take advantage of lower cost and available bandwidth. 2 Focus Group 1B. Long Term Issues for Emergency/E Services Report 4. FCC NRIC VII. Sept 2004 Failure Proofing Next Gen Networks 4

5 About Talari Networks Talari Networks is redefining WAN reliability and application performance quality. By aggregating multiple diverse networks into a virtual WAN and continuously adapting traffic based on the availability and real- time quality of the network paths, Talari ensures applications that rely on a WAN are not affected by underlying network issues. Talari s patented technology delivers significant cost savings over single- provider networks while also increasing reliability and quality. Talari has received numerous industry awards and accolades, including Best of Interop Performance Optimization, Techworld Awards Networking Application Product of the Year, and named Garter Cool Vendor, CRN Top 10 Products to see at Interop and CRN Data Center 100 List. For more information, visit Talari Networks, Inc. 550 S. Winchester Blvd., Suite 500 San Jose, CA USA fax Failure Proofing Next Gen Networks 5

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