Is Carrier Ethernet Enough When Flying Through Clouds?

Is Carrier Ethernet Enough When Flying Through Clouds?

We know that Carrier Ethernet delivers both high-performance connectivity across the WAN and scalable, standardized, highly-reliabile services with QoS and service management. As a result, Carrier Ethernet is the service of choice for many applications including enterprise business connectivity, content distribution, video, wireless backhaul, financial services, and more.  But, as the network transforms to meet the world of mega data centers and cloud services, a question comes to mind.  Is Carrier Ethernet enough? 

During last week’s MEF quarterly in Budapest, Hungary, I hosted a round-table on “Cloud Services and Carrier Ethernet.”  Participants included service providers Colt, PCCW Global, Orange, Oteglobe, Tata, Verizon; members from the Cloud Ethernet Forum (CEF) members; as well as members from MEF’s Cloud Ethernet Focus Group and SDN Focus Group.  This was a very interesting and open discussion. We focused on an enterprise to data center, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) application with Carrier Ethernet connectivity and bandwidth on-demand across the WAN. Here are a few highlights:

Read More →

Where's the Beef? A look at MPLS and SDN World Congress

Remember “where’s the beef?” This was an iconic commercial from the 1980s? In this commercial by Wendy’s, three old ladies walk up to a fast-food hamburger joint counter and repeatedly ask the staff – “where’s the beef?” decrying the movement in the fast food industry to make smaller burgers on larger buns.

I guess I could say the same for the MPLS and SDN World Congress that took place last week. Where’s the beef? This year’s conference was titled MPLS and SDN World Congress.  Last year, it was MPLS and Ethernet World Congress.  Some years back, it was the MPLS World Congress.  Seems odd.

Read More →

The First Great Use Case for Carrier SDN

The First Great Use Case for Carrier SDN

Despite the industry focus over the past year being predominantly around the transformation of networks through virtualization (SDN and NFV), one of the primary challenges facing network operators today that can be solved with software-control has nothing to do with virtualization but rather something far less exciting; service automation and orchestration.

Today network operators provision services piece-meal across their networks, one hop or node at a time, without end-to-end visibility or coordination. Adding yet another dimension of complexity is that often times different network layers are operationally siloed. This makes it impossible for an operator to make path computation decisions across a multi-layer service offering. This is the first great use case that can test out SDN in carrier networks.

So how do network operators solve this? Especially in an environment where most large network operators are challenged by issues such as network size, the number of vendors in the network, and incomplete inventory systems.

Read More →

The MWC NFV Orchestration Demo: How It Works

The MWC NFV Orchestration Demo: How It Works

Network Function Virtualization (NFV) helps operators run network functions on standard volume COTS hardware instead of purpose built hardware and leverages standard IT virtualization and cloud technologies to reduce total cost of operation and increase the service innovation and scale. This level of automation in provisioning and service delivery requires orchestration software of virtualized resources and the network for the operator to truly benefit from NFV’s promise.

The ETSI ISG has not standardized all the interfaces between various blocks that they first highlighted in their famous whitepaper when they brought to the industry’s attention the need for VNFs and service orchestration. Contributors, which Cyan is a part of, are working hard in trying to define what the most reasonable and practical way all of the components, including the NFVI, VNF manager, VNF and orchestrator come together and interact. Cyan has taken a step (a few actually) further and will be demonstrating a real-life use case at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Read More →

NFV#5: Birthday Parties, High-speed Trains, and Small Plates of Virtualization

The ETSI NFV ISG celebrated its first birthday yesterday here in Malaga. The NFV working groups have gathered here in beautiful southern Spain for NFV#5 to continue moving the specifications forward, aligning the work across the various working groups and to begin discussions on the evolution of the ETSI NFV ISG.

My trip into Malaga was not much different to how services are delivered end-to-end across carrier networks. It was comprised of several hops, a variety of technologies, legacy and new, and varying quality-of-service.

The journey began via jetliner into Madrid. From there I hopped on a wifi-enabled city bus to the central train station (Atocha) in the heart of the city. Shortly after that, I was traveling at over 180 mph (290 kmph) on the Renfe AVE train toward Malaga. Two and a half hours later, I was in a Malaga taxi making my way across cobbled roads, some not even wide-enough for 2-way traffic, headed for my hotel.

Read More →

The Cornerstones of Network Transformation

The Cornerstones of Network Transformation

Most agree that service providers and network operators around the world need to transform their operational models to drive faster growth, lower costs, and to offer services that meet end-customer requirements for dynamic network control.

But what are the cornerstones of this network transformation? Are they hardware-based or software-based? The answer, obviously, is both.

For example, packet-optical technology plays a critical role in simplifying and scaling network infrastructures by collapsing the layers of the network and delivering a clear alternative to expensive and complex router-based architectures. This simplification leads to an easier path for software-driven automation and control. SDN and NFV promise to deliver that automation and control, allowing network operators to transform their business models by providing a virtualized, programmable, and elastic network that adapts to the demands of business and applications. And the combination of these two technologies creates incredible leverage to modernize and transform legacy network infrastructures for the foreseeable future.

Read More →

Why GMPLS is Not Carrier SDN

Why GMPLS is Not Carrier SDN

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is becoming broadly accepted as the “preferred way” to architect and build networks in the future. SDN has gained prominence because of the promise of elasticity, network programmability, and significant cost-reductions. In the rush to jump onto the SDN bandwagon (and the wagon has become quite large), I am seeing some vendors try to “repackage” and “rebrand” their existing, vertically-integrated solutions as SDN. For example, there are vendors claiming that they are “SDN-ready” by virtue of an existing GMPLS solution. This simply doesn’t make sense. Let’s analyze why.

Generalized Multi-Protocol Label Switching (GMPLS), an extension to MPLS, is a protocol for setting up specific paths through a network. With GMPLS (like MPLS), network elements (NEs) coordinate with each other and signal back-and-forth to each other to establish paths through the network…

Read More →

Is Micro Better Than Macro?

NFV.  NFVO.  Policy.  Templates. VNF Graphs…We’re all still wrestling with firm positions on each, ranging from policy servers working in conjunction with layer 3 networks, to the use of Orchestration to fulfill compute, network, storage and applications as a singular offering, and orchestrated by…

Well, by what exactly? 

The Scope of Orchestration is a major challenge, and what Orchestration means varies depending on the carrier, and the systems they’ve deployed, as well as by which vendor you ask. Large carriers with extensive OSS/BSS systems and vast network infrastructure require a far different Orchestration infrastructure than a small regional carrier with a focused network and small OSS footprint…

Read More →

DukeNet's Important First Steps Toward SDN

DukeNet's Important First Steps Toward SDN

Today, DukeNet announced a proof of concept demonstration showing how WAN automation and orchestration can be paired with virtualized resources in the data center for a new, unified service offering. This is a critical first step in creating new service types that move service providers, like DukeNet, up-the-value chain to provide elastic and dynamic network services to meet enterprise application requirements.

DukeNet is in a unique position. Their fiber footprint sits in an important and fast-growing section of the country, from VA (which contains one of the largest data center hubs on Earth) to Jacksonville, FL. The heart of DukeNet’s network is in North Carolina, where data center parks are materializing “left and right” and where financial services companies, content providers, and manufacturers alike have set up major regional operations. As a result, DukeNet finds itself in the enviable position of being able to serve both the needs of enterprise customers in the region, but also carriers and data center operators looking to connect between strategic locations.

Read More →

Embracing Innovation

 

I’m writing this on the long trip home to California from Singapore, where Cyan had participated in the 6th annual Carrier Ethernet APAC Conference – the largest Ethernet event in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. This year the show was also co-located with “SDN & NFV Asia”, a new event highlighting the exciting opportunities that software-defined networking and network functions virtualization present to regional network operators. As most of us have noticed over the past year, it’s a growing trend for telecom-related conferences to add an emphasis on SDN/NFV in order to capitalize on the intense interest surrounding these disruptive, rapidly emerging technologies. The combined event in Singapore did this as well as any other I’ve seen lately, and featured more than 45 operator and solution provider presentations and panels looking at Carrier Ethernet, SDN, and NFV technologies from the service provider perspective with a distinctive emphasis on the regional impact.

Read More →