TIME TO RETHINK SDN AND NFV

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1 TIME TO RETHINK SDN AND NFV SDN and NFV are gathering momentum as telecom carriers struggle to manage rapid growth in data traffic. Discussions have focused on the ability of SDN and NFV to make network and service provisioning more agile and flexible. But, do they fully address the challenge facing carriers today? Only by enabling real-time insight into what is happening in the network, and how services are performing, will the true benefits of SDN and NFV be realized.

2 SDN and NFV need to be complemented with real-time insight Disclaimer: This document is intended for informational purposes only. Any information herein is believed to be reliable. However, Napatech assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information. Napatech reserves the right to change the document and the products described without notice. Napatech and the authors disclaim any and all liabilities. Napatech is a trademark used under license by Napatech A/S. All other logos, trademarks and service marks are the property of the respective third parties. Copyright Napatech A/S All rights reserved.

3 TIME TO RETHINK SDN AND NFV For many years now, carriers have been struggling with the growing volume, velocity and variety of data. This is a relentless growth curve with no immediate end in sight. The challenge has been to manage this situation profitably. The solution, many believe, lies in optimizing resource usage and accelerating the deployment of new and innovative services. Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) have been identified as potential enablers of this solution. Based on Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware, the immediate benefit is the expected reduction in cost for both vendors and their carrier customers. But, even more importantly, it is the flexibility that virtualized network functions provide, and the agility that centralized software programmable control enables, that brings the real value. But, do they address all aspects of the challenge that is facing carriers today? There is a vital part of the formula for success, which is little discussed; on what basis will the agility and flexibility of SDN and NFV be called into action? What intelligence will be used to make decisions? The answer to these questions is real-time insight. Only by enabling real-time insight into what is happening in the network, and how services are performing, will the true benefits of SDN and NFV be realized. BUILDING FLEXIBILITY AND AGILITY INTO THE NETWORK SDN and NFV have evolved independently, but share many common traits. In the telecom world, they are increasingly seen as complementary solutions to building flexibility and agility into the network while at the same time reducing cost and complexity. SDN and NFV are expected to provision services quickly with as little dependency on the network as possible. With virtualized network functions and centralized switching and routing control, it is expected to be possible to literally move the bandwidth, processing and storage resources required to where they are most needed. Building this infrastructure on COTS hardware helps to reduce cost, while providing scalability and efficiency. There is confidence this can be done because this is the way enterprise networks and data centers are operated today, albeit for processing and storage resources. Virtualization is now pervasive and supports a vast range of cloud services. Even SDN has origins in the enterprise and data center world as a means to reduce cost and improve efficiencies. Telecom carriers and vendors have seen the benefits that these approaches have delivered, not least of which is the speed at which new services can be deployed. It is the flexibility and agility that virtualization and centralized switching and routing control promise that has captured attention. AGILITY AND FLEXIBILITY ONLY HALF OF THE FORMULA SDN and NFV, if fully realized, can provide the benefits that carriers are seeking with regard to provisioning services in a faster and more efficient manner. However, this is only one half of the formula for success. The key question that needs to be asked is what will trigger changes to service and network configurations? When will the capabilities of SDN and NFV be called into action? And for what purpose? The answer to these questions forms the other half of the formula. The full benefits of SDN and NFV cannot be realized unless these questions are understood and answered. For many readers with telecom experience, the questions raised above might seem confusing. The answer for many would seem obvious; telecom carriers will plan and create services and then use SDN and NFV to provision them. DN-0842 Rev. 2 3

4 Management and Orchestration Trigger Action Real-Time Insight Agile and Flexible Provisioning Appliances Probes SDN NFV FIGURE 1 Management and Orchestration with SDN, NFV and Real-Time Insight The problem is this disregards the fact that the telecom world is undergoing a massive paradigm shift that challenges deeply held beliefs on the role of carriers as service providers. The bottom line is that carriers are no longer in control of the services that are offered on their networks. Once you accept this fact, you begin to realize that the obvious answer is no longer so obvious. The challenge that carriers are facing is not only provisioning services, but also adapting to the behavior of subscribers consuming the carriers and other providers services. RETHINKING THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL The underlying service being offered by carriers is Internet connectivity, but it is the hope and vision of many of them to provide more advanced services that can potentially compete with other content providers, often termed Over-The-Top () providers. These providers are increasingly driving mobile data growth. There is a wealth of innovation that has been enabled by allowing services to be offered over the Internet, whether they are cloud services or apps for mobile devices. But, the reality is that carriers, at best, will be one of a multitude of service providers running over the network. Subscribers are becoming more mobile and using smartphones and tablets as their primary devices for connectivity, and more devices will be enabled to share data for machine-to-machine communication, such as cars, household appliances and even trash cans. In this environment it will be virtually impossible to control and predict how much bandwidth will be consumed, and when. The key capability that needs to be established is the ability to quickly adapt to new situations. SDN and NFV are one half of the formula that enables fast re-provisioning. The other half is real-time insight into what is happening in the network. According to the Cisco VNI Index released in February 2014, video traffic was 53% of mobile traffic in 2013 and will be over two-thirds by Sandvine reports in the Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H2013 that Netflix and YouTube now account for more than 50% of Internet traffic on fixed networks in North America. REACTING AND ADAPTING IN REAL TIME By monitoring what is happening in real time, it is possible to see what services are being used, by whom and how much bandwidth they are consuming. The technology to do this exists today and operates at speeds up to 40 Gbps. It is also possible to capture this information to disk in real time. This allows a profile to be developed of normal network behavior over a given period of time. This profile can be used 4

5 Centralized Management and Orchestration Real-Time Insight Agile and Flexible Provisioning Provider Real-Time Anomaly Collection Real-Time Storage SDN NFV User Real-Time Data Capture Carrier Carrier New FIGURE 2 Real-Time Insight for Assuring QoE to establish thresholds or other triggers for detecting deteriorations in performance and quality, radical changes in consumption patterns or other anomalies. The ability to offer better quality and more secure connections should be attractive to service providers and their subscribers. By comparing real-time data on what is happening with the expected behavior established in the profile, it is at least possible to determine if something out of the ordinary has occurred. While this does not provide a prediction on data consumption, it does provide a powerful capability to adapt to a change in real time. LINKING REAL-TIME INSIGHT TO SDN AND NFV By monitoring network and service usage in real time and detecting anomalies, it is possible to react to unexpected situations. This is the front end to the management of SDN and NFV services. It provides the intelligence for SDN controllers and NFV management to act. This can be to reroute traffic, increase bandwidth in a certain area, change service parameters or even offer a new service or upgrade. This approach also brings other benefits. The real-time information on network and service utilization provides insight into Quality of Experience (QoE). This is crucial for services offered by carriers, but is also a service that can be sold to content providers utilizing the carrier network, such as providers. A similar service can be offered for security, as the approach outlined above can detect anomalies that can be correlated with information from security appliances to determine if an attack is underway. PLAYING THE DEVIL S ADVOCATE Many might argue that this aspect of real-time monitoring should already be solved in the SDN switches or the hypervisor. For low speed networks, this will be possible. The challenge is implementing this capability in high-speed networks operating at 1, 10 or even 100 Gbps. There are a broad range of appliances available today that analyze real-time data for management, test, security and optimization of networks and services. These are standalone, physical devices with extreme processing requirements. One should remember that this kind of functionality was originally available in switches and routers, but it was determined that separate dedicated appliances were a better solution as the processing requirements were too large for routers and switches to accommodate. With the move to COTS hardware envisioned in SDN and NFV, it is hard to see that these requirements have diminished, especially as the volume, variety and velocity of data is increasing. Another argument is that appliances can now be virtualized and run on virtual machines. This again is true for lower bandwidth applications, but at higher speeds, the virtual 5

6 appliance will require significant processing resources that can threaten to consume CPU cycles that should be used by the other virtual clients the virtual appliance is supposed to be monitoring. This would seem to be counter-productive. Therefore, there is a definite need for physical appliances that can analyze large amounts of data in real time. To work in a virtualized environment, they will need to be virtualization-aware with the capability to distinguish virtual LANs. With these key devices in place, the real-time insight into how the network and services are performing can be assured. IMPLEMENTING REAL-TIME INSIGHT Napatech is the world leader in accelerating appliances for management, test, security and optimization of networks and services. Napatech accelerators for network management and security applications guarantee delivery of real-time data and are designed to be installed in any COTS server. Napatech customers include the largest IT and telecom equipment vendors, providing us with the unique insight into the analysis demands of enterprise, telecom, financial and government networks. Napatech has enabled vendors to build appliances that can analyze traffic at speeds up to 40 Gbps. Together with our Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) software partners, Qosmos, Procera and ipoque, we have enabled real-time insight into both network and service performance, even for services. We have also enabled customers to capture data to disk in real time. Together with partners such as ntop, we have the capability to provide a complete solution for both real-time insight and capture to disk. ASSURING AGILITY, FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY The technology for implementing real-time insight already exists and is ready to be deployed. Applying this technology to SDN and NFV management is not a technical hurdle, but more of a conceptual step. It involves a rethink of the role of carriers and accepting that there is no longer control over what services are being consumed on the network. This involves an acceptance that rather than being the sole cradle-to-grave provider of all communication service needs, a modern carrier needs to partner with a growing ecosystem of players with a focus on maintaining customer satisfaction. In other words, ensuring that subscribers are getting what they want, the way they want it. Once we accept the reality that carriers are no longer in control of the traffic that is running on their networks, we begin to realize that the promise of agility and flexibility needs to be complemented by the real-time capability to adapt. With real-time insight into network and service usage, triggers can be built in to bring SDN and NFV capabilities to bear in addressing issues and providing services. In addition, the real-time insight can be used to assure QoE and security that in turn can be sold as services to service providers. Integrating this capability into SDN and NFV concepts will complete the formula as part of a holistic approach to building agility and responsiveness into carrier organizations. FIGURE 3 DPI Appliance for Real-Time Insight Standard Server Accelerator 4 x 1G One API Accelerator 2 x 10G Accelerator 1 x 40G Napatech Software Suite DPI Software 6

7 DISCOVER THE POWER OF NAPATECH Napatech accelerators are designed to handle the maximum theoretical throughput of data for a given port speed. Napatech offers a range of accelerators supporting speeds from 10 Mbps to 100 Gbps. A single, common Application Programming Interface (API) allows application software to be developed once and used with a broad range of Napatech accelerators. This allows combinations of different accelerators with different port speeds to be installed in the same server. Additional features include: Napatech accelerators can identify, filter and distribute flows to up to 32 CPU cores Data merging functionality allows flows from different ports on different accelerators to be merged for analysis Data sharing functionality allows multiple applications to access the same data at the same time All of this can be performed with very low server CPU load CHOOSE THE MARKET LEADER Napatech is the market leading provider of accelerators for network management and security applications. Napatech provides global sales and support from local offices in all major continents, which is included in the price of the accelerator. This means that our highly experienced support resources are available for design and integration support, as well as field support without extra charge. Napatech accelerators are manufactured to the highest standards by outsourced manufacturers in Switzerland and the USA supporting all major certifications including NEBS for telecom applications. COMPANY PROFILE Napatech is the world leader in accelerating network management and security applications. As data volume and complexity grow, the performance of these applications needs to stay ahead of the speed of networks in order to do their jobs. We make this possible, for even the most demanding financial, telecom, corporate and government networks. Now and in the future, we enable our customers applications to run faster than the networks they need to manage and protect. Napatech. FASTER THAN THE FUTURE 7

8 EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA Napatech A/S Copenhagen, Denmark Tel NORTH AMERICA Napatech Inc. Boston, Massachusetts Mountain View, California Washington D.C. Tel SOUTH AMERICA Napatech São Paulo, Brazil Tel APAC Napatech Japan K.K. Tokyo, Japan Tel Napatech Korea Seoul, South Korea Tel

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