Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept

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1 LiquidNet Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept

2 Creating the telco-grade cloud Virtualization is an established technology in the IT world, helping organizations to achieve higher operational efficiency, greater flexibility and lower costs. Benefits like these make virtualization an attractive proposition for telco operators, many of which are looking to adopt the technology. Yet despite its success in the IT arena, no operator will deploy virtualization without the assurance that it meets the very high standards and regulatory requirements of the commercial telco environment. For instance, carrier-grade availability, scalability and reliability are essentials. Proving the concept of core virtualization and cloud management To demonstrate that Core Virtualization and cloud management are viable technologies ready for deployment by operators, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) and a leading global operator have jointly set up and run a Proof of Concept project to identify the requirements for cloud computing in the mobile core network. At the heart of the project is a technology trial using a cloud prototype to demonstrate the ability to handle specific operational scenarios. These focus on deploying network elements in the cloud, monitoring the performance of the network elements and the cloud, and dealing with hardware failures. The project also aims to evaluate cloud deployment in the core network compared to that in pure IT service. Identifying concepts for adapting telco network capacity in the cloud in near real-time, the work will help operators to meet unpredictably changing traffic demand. In cooperation with the operator, NSN has produced several technical reference papers on the characteristics of telco clouds and their elasticity capabilities. 2 Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept

3 Why core network virtualization is needed Core networks are under intense pressure. Many operators core networks are being stressed by the explosion of data traffic created by the popularity of smart devices and the accelerating use of mobile broadband services. Core networks must deliver virtually unlimited scalability, flexibility and efficiency, without disrupting the existing customer experience. With conventional core networks using purpose-built software and hardware for each network element, the continual introduction of new requirements and new technologies means adding more and more network elements. Each must be integrated, creating new requirements for operations, administration and maintenance (OAM) and back end systems. The result is rapidly growing complexity within the core network. Core Virtualization addresses this complexity and improves network efficiency. With virtualization, operators can evolve their networks and adopt new functionality to support more Virtualization allows the core network, comprising the packetswitched, circuit-switched and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) domains, to run on a common resource pool of generic multipurpose hardware, assuring the efficient use of network resources as they are needed, while tapping into almost unlimited processing power. Part of the NSN Liquid Core approach, Core Virtualization enables any software application to run on COTS (commercialoff-the-shelf) Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA ) and ultimately on other generic multipurpose hardware for superior scalability, flexibility and reliability. By providing an evolutionary roadmap for the NSN Open Core System, Core Virtualization enables operators to achieve greater hardware efficiency and flexibility by dynamically allocating network resources, like processing power, to core software applications to handle differing traffic and service needs - see Figure 1. subscribers To change theand document more information advanced services. in the footer, They press can [Alt also + F8] benefit and use the Nokia_Solutions_and_Networks_ _Change_Document_Information from a smaller equipment footprint and reduced operational costs from lower energy consumption, less hardware and simplified operations and maintenance. 1 Core Network Simplification and consolidation of core network Core Virtualization MSS NVS Decoupling hardware and software CSCF Open Core software in cloud environment Virtualization layer MME n COTS ATCA IT Blade Server Figure 1: Deployment of core network elements on a virtualized infrastructure Public 1 24-Oct-13 Unique document identifier (ID) / Version number / Life cycle status 2013 Nokia Solutions and Networks. All rights reserved. Primary colors: Supporting colors: G 204 G 130 R 127 G 16 B 162 G 255 B 255 R 0 G 0 R 104 G 113 B 122 R 168 G 187 B 192 R 216 G 217 B 218 Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept 3

4 The project configuration The proof of concept project runs on an experimental system developed by NSN. This incorporates network elements into a virtualized infrastructure running on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Advanced Telecommunications Computing Architecture (ATCA) hardware. The four network elements - MSC Server (MSS), Mobility Management Entity (MME), Call State Control Function (CSCF) and NSN Mobile Voice over IP Server (NVS) are managed by a cloud management tool, the NSN Cloud Framework. With Core Virtualization, these conventional network elements become software applications running on virtualized infrastructure. The prototype s hardware comprises a pool of identical COTS ATCA blades assigned to three functions (see Figure 2): Host blades for running the core network element software applications Management blades for Virtualized Infrastructure Management and the Cloud Framework Support blades used for simulating traffic and other network functions. In addition to the computing blades, redundant managed switches interconnect all blades with the AHUBs (ATCA HUB) To change the document information in the footer, press [Alt + F8] and use and the Nokia_Solutions_and_Networks_ _Change_Document_Information provide external connections. iscsi Storage Switch 2*10 G Fabric Interface HB HB HB HB HB HB SB AHUB AHUB SB SB SB empty SB MB MB Web - Interface 2*1 G Base Interface HB: Host Blade Public 3 25-Oct-13 Unique document identifier (ID) / Version number / Life cycle status 2013 Nokia Solutions and Networks. All rights reserved. Figure 2: The Core Virtualization Proof of Concept hardware configuration SB: Support Blade MB: Management Blade Primary colors: Supporting colors: G 204 G 130 R 127 G 16 B 162 G 255 B 255 R 0 G 0 R 104 G 113 B 122 R 168 G 187 B 192 R 216 G 217 B Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept

5 The role of the Cloud Framework The commercially available NSN Cloud Framework (see figure 3) provides automated application deployment and management of NSN virtualized products (for example MMS and SMS centers).the Cloud Framework s graphical user interface is extremely simple to use, combining the convenience of singleclick deployment of applications with the power of detailed, real-time performance monitoring of network elements and the cloud. The benefits of the Cloud Framework include: One-click deployment: Automated cloud application deployment, monitoring and error reporting saves time and costs and reduces the risk of human error. Multi-cloud support: Enables several private and public cloud accounts to be managed simultaneously to support flexible hybrid cloud arrangements to meet changing demands. End-to-end security architecture: High security is assured by features that include centralized cloud credentials, dynamic firewall, built-in disk encryption and dynamic certificate management. Telco SLA monitoring and assurance: Real-time performance and health monitoring of cloud resources and cloud application components help assure high availability of the network. State-of-the-art management dashboard: Graphical browserbased interface delivers real-time visibility and control of any application or virtualization infrastructure resource. Figure 3: The Cloud Framework graphical user interface automates the deployment and management of multiple cloud-based applications Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept 5

6 Performance proven by five showcase scenarios The Proof of Concept project includes five operational scenarios, or showcases, to demonstrate how a virtualized core network works in a practical environment. Showcase One: Starting a new network element without disrupting services The first showcase demonstrates the ease with which new network elements can be added to the virtualized core without disrupting the operation of other elements. Virtualized core network elements can be deployed in minutes and run on the same cloud / hardware resources. The Cloud Framework enables a new network element to be added with just a few clicks. First, a pre-defined template is selected to create the new network element. The Proof of Concept project demonstrates this process for MSS, MME, CSCF and NVS elements. A further click deploys the application in the cloud. It is then started, which turns on the monitoring of its operation to help ensure it runs correctly. Showcase Two: Adding a new network element to carry additional traffic This showcase demonstrates the ability to scale up capacity easily and without disruption, to meet increased demand on the network. Conventionally, new dedicated hardware would be needed. In the virtualized core, all that is required is to assign cloud capacity in which to start up the application (for example a MSC Server, or MSS) when traffic increases. The trigger is a pre-set traffic threshold that raises an alarm that the operational MSS is encountering heavy traffic and another MSS needs to be started to balance the traffic. This is then done following a similar procedure to that in Showcase One. Conventionally, faulty hardware needs to be replaced physically, which can take many hours. In the virtualized environment, every part of a network element runs on its own virtual machine. The system detects the blade failure and, if its virtual machine cannot be restarted, redeploys it to a spare blade. Not only does this restore the affected application within minutes, but such liquid allocation of resources means significantly less hardware is needed to maintain network availability. Showcases Four and Five: NetAct for the virtualized environment The project also aims to show how the Cloud Framework is integrated into the NSN NetAct operations support system (OSS) widely used by operators globally. NetAct combines the management of overall network operations, individual network elements and services to provide a comprehensive solution for all communications networks. With hundreds of NetAct installations deployed, the system is evolved to support virtualized core network elements. Showcase Four demonstrates how NetAct provides a holistic view of the network by combining status information about the virtualized infrastructure received via the NSN Cloud Framework and status information about the network elements received via the elements OAM interfaces. Showcase Five demonstrates the virtualization of NetAct itself by showing how a hardware failure can be rapidly and easily healed in a virtualized infrastructure. Showcase Three: Managing hardware failure With virtualization, automation becomes a powerful tool to help an operator react rapidly to a hardware failure, for example a malfunctioning blade. 6 Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept

7 Taking the telco cloud forward With this Proof of Concept project, NSN and the operator are providing valuable lessons on telco cloud deployment. While showing that it is straightforward to implement a prototype within a few months, in which core network element software is migrated to a virtualized infrastructure, the project also reveals the limitations of today s IT virtualized infrastructures. During the project it has become clear that current IT cloud platform infrastructure is not ready for telco cloud requirements. Some very significant adaptations will be needed, which none of the currently available commercial nor open source based software solutions support. The necessary adaptations are mainly needed in the area of resource guarantees, networking capabilities and redundancy support. All of these need to be implemented by the provider of the telco cloud platform. Further study is needed to determine to what extent those platforms should be built by today s telco infrastructure vendors, such as NSN, by adding virtualization and cloud support to their existing carrier-grade platforms, and how much telco functionality should be added to current IT cloud platforms by IT vendors.it has become clear that the power of cloud technology only becomes accessible through suitable cloud management software, such as the NSN Cloud Framework. NSN is using this and other cloud management software insights to define the functionality of its Self- Organizing Network (SON) for Core solution for virtualized core networks. The deployment of core network element software on a virtualized infrastructure needs to be accompanied by developments in managing its operation. The major issues being addressed by NSN include: Making the network status fully visible in the network operation center, including the status of the respective virtualized infrastructure Managing the network element life cycle effectively in a virtualized environment Automating operational tasks that are performed manually today NSN is committed to implementing core virtualization and OSS for virtualized core network elements to enable operators to take advantage of cloud technology in their core networks to reduce their capital and operational costs. Core network virtualization: a proof-of-concept 7

8 Nokia Solutions and Networks P.O. Box 1 FI Finland Visiting address: Karaportti 3, ESPOO, Finland Switchboard Product code C B EN 2013 Nokia Solutions and Networks. All rights reserved. Public NSN is a trademark of Nokia Solutions and Networks. Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation. Other product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks of their respective owners, and they are mentioned for identification purposes only. nsn.com

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