Protecting the Telecom Network

Telecommunication networks are becoming more and more essential every day and, in the process, gaining new opportunities. These opportunities will drive new business growth and create exciting areas for revenue generation. However, as with all opportunities, challenges exist. And for communication service providers (CSPs), these challenges include cyber threats, increasing network decentralization, timing requirements, and more. To help our customers meet these challenges, Dell EMC Ready Solution for VMware NFV brings together industry-leading technologies optimized for telecommunication networks, yet customizable for any unique need. This solution continues to offer new value with the latest release including … READ MORE

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Cisco Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure Software File Enumeration Vulnerability

A vulnerability in the web server functionality of Cisco Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure Software (NFVIS) could allow an authenticated, remote attacker to perform file enumeration on an affected system.

The vulnerability is due to the web server responding with different error codes for existing and non-existing files. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending GET requests for different file names. A successful exploit could allow the attacker to enumerate files residing on the system.

Cisco has released software updates that address this vulnerability. There are no workarounds that address this vulnerability.

This advisory is available at the following link:
https://tools.cisco.com/security/center/content/CiscoSecurityAdvisory/cisco-sa-20190821-nfv-enumeration

Security Impact Rating: Medium

CVE: CVE-2019-12623

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Demystifying Software-Defined Networks: A Decade Later, Where Are We Now (Part II)?

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In part IV of this SDN/NFV blog series, I talked about how we arrived to the present situation of SDN, a bit of its history, as well as future plans. In addition, I cited the key implementation of Google’s SDN as an example.

Deployment Example #2

Another company that is making use of SDN is Gap Inc. – yes, it’s not a technology company but the American fashion icon and parent company of Old Navy, Banana Republic and Intermix. They’re using an application of SDN to connect its Internet stores to one another in the corporate network. In the words of the Mr. Patel, Senior Network Architect and CTO of the SD-WAN-SDN project at GAP, “This software approach is about 50% less expensive than the conventional method of connecting stores together in a wide area network. Companies with many stores or branch offices are beginning to look at SDN networking to connect their stores together, but Gap is one of the first to implement this technology at scale and make public its efforts.”

Deployment Example #3

Microsoft Azure is my third example. The Redmond giant is actively implementing SDN for its Azure Public Cloud. In the words of Albert Greenberg, Microsoft lead technologist: “One of the key principles behind Azure’s SDN is its ‘Virtual Layer 2 Architecture,’ a Layer 3 Cross-Fabric that spans the entire data center.” He continues, “Automation is key to managing a massive, high-bandwidth network built with commodity components. The network state service that Azure uses as its control plane abstracts away the individual networks.”

To be able to mix and match the best network element hardware, Microsoft followed a very similar approach to Facebook, using the open source Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) API to program the ASICs of the switches.

We also have major carriers like AT&T with its Domain 2.0 initiative and Telefonica with Unica. AT&T had a data traffic increase of 100,000% on its wireless network (not a typo) since 2009 to present day. That’s why they needed SDN and NFV implemented across their network because it’s the only technology that allows adding capacity faster with automated deployment and pushes out fast upgrades at the speed of the Internet. AT&T is still planning to have 75% of their network virtualized by 2020.

So What’s the Conclusion?

SDN and NFV are both a bit of hype and disruptive reality. I concur on the view that if SDN and NFV were just bubbles, they would have burst by now. It’s because there’s a real need for both of these technologies that the industry has kept investing in them.

If we think about it, we have been using CLI to configure L2-L3 Network elements for the last 35+ years without many major changes. It is true that we have new protocols, the bandwidth, processing power, and capacity has skyrocketed, as well as the complexity of the networks, but the job of network engineers didn’t change much until we started pushing for SDN/NFV[1]. The paradigm changed – centralized control, separation of planes, abstraction, generic hardware, open source, etc. It is also worth noting that part of the difficulty of its implementation is not just technical, but cultural: In most organizations, networking is typically siloed from the rest of the IT organization. The new approach to networking, SDN and DevOps, requires a different mindset and it takes convincing, training, effort and time.

SDN Forecasts

According to a report from BCC research, the estimation for SDN global revenues will jump to over $56 billion in 2020, plus, in the near future, 100G will be the norm and manual control won’t be enough. We will need to have automation all across the network from the top to the bottom. The agility that SDN and NFV technologies provide will be key soon.

I believe these technologies have spearheaded the biggest leap in networking technology over the last 20 years, it’s just taking a bit longer to completely take over. Once we have the problematic interoperability and standardization figured out, we’ll have massive implementations across the board.

Initial focus of OPNFV was in between 2008-2015; present and future focus is 21016-onward.

We have many initiatives, like ONAP and OPNFV, just around the corner. ONAP (a project combining AT&T’s ECOMP and Open-O[2]) provides for automatic, policy-driven interaction of these functions and services in a dynamic, real-time cloud environment. It’s not just a run-time platform; it includes graphical design tools for function/service creation, delivering capabilities for the design, creation, orchestration, monitoring, and lifecycle management of VNFs, SDNs and high level services. OPNFV is focusing on the higher layers with quality open source software for the virtualization layer, specifically on the ETSI NFV interfaces VI-Ha, Vn-Nf, Nf-Vi, Vi-Vnfm, and Or-Vi in the diagram above (from ETSI architecture)[3].

Summary

As a closing thought, I’d say 2020 will be the date for the massive implementation of SDN/NFV. We’ve come a long way in just 10 years but work needs to be done on the higher layers in particular; on orchestration and consolidation of the platforms we have in place, and improving the interoperability on automation features.

Part of the Blog Series

Demystifying Software Defined Networks Part III: SDN via Overlays

Demystifying Software-Defined Networks Part II: SDN via APIs

Demystifying Software-Defined Networks Part I: Open SDN Approach

Sources

[1] SDN | sdx central

[2] How ONAP Will Merge Millions of Lines of Code from ECOMP and Open-O

[3] ETSI Standards

 

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Dell EMC, Red Hat Deliver Best-in-Class Solutions for Service Providers

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At Dell EMC, we are focused on delivering open, disaggregated set of solutions from core to edge, and beyond.   The solutions we create allow service providers to remove proprietary infrastructure, decrease total cost of ownership and automate operations, as they deliver new sets of services and applications to their end customers. While reducing OpEx these solutions also enable service providers to get to revenue quicker, a win-win.

Photo by Fabio Ballasina on Unsplash

Dell EMC and Red Hat have been partners for more than a decade and provide a jointly engineered, deeply integrated and fully-validated OpenStack solution for Service Providers and high-end enterprises. Both companies have dedicated and jointly staffed labs for OpenStack and open source development, testing, and performance engineering.

At this year’s Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, we are excited to announce the latest version of Dell EMC NFV Ready Bundle for Red Hat v10.2 release to further simplify and accelerate OpenStack deployments for Communication Service Providers as well as Managed & Hosting Service Providers and high-end enterprises.

This Ready solution includes pre-integrated bundle of open standards-based Dell EMC Cloud Infrastructure (compute, networking, storage and management tools) options with the Red Hat OpenStack Platform 10 (long-term supported) including highly redundant, software-defined storage delivered by Red Hat Ceph as the default storage option.

While the solution has “NFV” in its name, it delivers rapid and reliable business results for not only Communication Service Providers (CSPs/Telcos), but also Hosting Service Providers, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) as well as high-end enterprise private cloud builders

The solution combines the innovation of OpenStack with fast automated deployment, highly reliable operations and simplified management, has pre-designed scalability for growth for both compute and storage and has full deployment automation to configure the hardware and software in just over an hour (based on internal testing) – consistently and reliably each time.

At its core, significant value is created from the features we have added for service providers, especially the many NFV specific enhancements for CSPs. These include the following:

  1. 14G Hardware Support: This release includes support for our latest 14th generation PowerEdge Servers based on Intel Skylake CPUs. These servers have been shown to have a 30 percent increase in performance and a 78 percent increase in scalability when compared to the previous solution Release with analogous PowerEdge 13G R-series rack servers. (Based on Dell EMC internal benchmark testing, April 2018.)
  2. 25GbE NICs Support: To address the need for faster network throughput and lower latency for CSP use cases, we now fully support Intel XXV710 NICs and Mellanox CX4 NICs.
  3. Introduction of CSP and XSP Profiles: The solution is targeted for not only NFV/CSPs but also for xSPs or other service providers as well such as Hosting/Managed Service Providers, Consumer Web Techs, IaaS/PaaS/SaaS Service Providers. This release introduces the framework for profiles that make it easy to deploy OpenStack for a specific use case. The two profiles provided with this release automatically configure whole solution, SW and HW for the key features of xSP or CSP use cases to provide rapid and consistent deployment in an automated fashion. These are delivered as part of open sourced Jet Pack for ease of customization and adoption for customer specific workload scenarios.
  4. NFV Enhancements: These include several key NFV-specific features that many of our customers are asking for such as SR-IOV, Huge Pages, NUMA & CPU-Pinning, NIC Alignment and OVS-DPDK that are integrated into CSP profile.

Additionally, while the bundle is available as a pre-integrated solution, we fully understand that service providers may need help with implementation of the solution or may need solutions customized for their needs. We make it easy with Dell EMC Professional Services. Dell EMC Professional Services can provide implementation of the bundle in your data center. The service includes hardware rack integration (on- or off-site) plus host operating system and OpenStack software installation.

If you have advanced requirements, Dell EMC offers custom statement-of-work–based OpenStack Cloud Consulting services, including workshops, assessments, design and custom implementation.

Dell EMC and Red Hat have been working together for over a decade, but in many ways we are just getting started. We will continue to integrate capabilities that service providers want to deliver solutions that reduce installation complexity, automate operations, enable seamless delivery new services but above all, provide confidence that the joint solutions are ready to work in production for service providers.

Please visit us in the Dell EMC booth #903 at Red Hat Summit to learn more.


Copyright © 2018 Red Hat, Inc. Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Shadowman logo, and JBoss are trademarks or registered trademarks of Red Hat, Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. Linux® is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries. Java is the registered trademark of Oracle America, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

 



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Skepticism at the Top: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

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As discussed in my previous blog, Silos Never Die: A Case Study in NFV Deployment, despite considerable investment and effort, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been slow to realize the advantages of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). A recently published white paper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence, identifies major stumbling blocks keeping operators from fully leveraging the agility, dynamic scaling, and efficiency advantages of network virtualization.

In this third CSP NFV and final deployment case study, we look at the role of C-level leadership in NFV program success and how to gain CXO commitment.

Case Study #3: Skepticism at the Top

The IT and Network Operations groups at a large Tier 1 CSP agreed on one thing: a major competitor was close to capitalizing on NFV/SDN and it would take quick, bold action to keep pace.

At the C-level, however, executives were skeptical. They detected a high degree of hype—and risk—in NFV/SDN. Some even predicted that public failure and big cost overruns would be the outcome of their competitor’s ambitious transformation program.

Cautious Tactical Trials

Fearing that problems with a large-scale NFV/SDN deployment had the potential to knock out half of their services, senior executives took a conservative, tactical approach.

Rather than moving forward with a holistic, enterprise transformation strategy, architecture and operating model, they limited NFV to one-node trials, with each virtualized network function thoroughly unit-, module-, regression-, performance- and scale-tested before proceeding to the next.

Focused on the cost savings to be had from separating network function from underlying hardware, the CXOs failed to recognize the need for a new operational model and skill sets to reap the benefits; and slow to fund hiring, training, and/or external consultants.

The IT and Network department teams, working together on the NFV trials, did what they could to manage. IT shared their experience managing virtualized environments with the network group while Linux teams were encouraged to advance trials of open source solutions and increased participation in industry standards groups.

Playing Catch Up

It was only when faced with the very public success of their competitor—including incremental revenue, agility and cost-savings—that CSP senior management changed their approach, approving an aggressive SD-WAN roll-out, funding a formal training program, and moving forward with an initiative to manage distributed virtualized edge network nodes and functions through a common platform.

However, even today, the CSP remains a year or two behind its competitor and has yet to launch a single, strategic program for enterprise-wide conversion to the NFV/SDN model.

Getting CXOs On-board

In our experience, the most difficult and typically unforeseen obstacles to NFV/SDN are operational and organizational—not technical. In this case, IT and Network Operations were on the same page, but the C-level was not. A fundamental transformation of network architecture and operation is not possible without the informed, sustained support (if not leadership) of senior management.

Building the Business Case

Indeed, even with an enthusiastic C-Suite, the first step in developing the right NFV/SDN transformation strategy is building the business case—including ROI and financial modeling in the context of the CSP’s business and objectives. Initially, high-level, single-VNF analysis can be used to justify more detailed, multiple-scenario modeling and sensitivity analyses to more precisely quantify the benefits to be accrued from NFV/SDN deployment.

Because people and process are integral to the successful deployment and operationalization of NFV/SDN, the business case should include an objective assessment of the current organization/operation—compared to the organizational structure, operating model, processes required for NFVi management.

In addition, C-level executives (and, often, Network Operations teams) may require presentations that show how a well-architected and orchestrated NFV/SDN infrastructure can deliver reliability and resiliency that is equal-or-better-than the existing physical network.

First Step on the Roadmap

As the chart below shows, a solid business case provides the foundation for defining next steps in a phased, multi-dimensional roadmap for planning and executing NFV/SDN across people, process and technology.

Dell EMC Methodology for the Transformation Journey

Summary

As our blog series of CSP Case Studies shows, every situation is different. There is no “right” model for deploying NFV/SDN technology—all decisions and options involve trade-offs.

To delve deeper into successful NFV deployments, download the new Dell EMC white paper Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence. Based on research with MST Consulting and Dell EMC experience with than 2,000 successful cloud implementations, the paper describes approaches and methodologies that can help mitigate risk and provide CSPs with a new perspective on the right next step for their company.

The post Skepticism at the Top: A Case Study in NFV Deployment appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.


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Silos Never Die: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

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As discussed in Failure to Migrate: A Case Study in NFV Deployment, despite considerable investment, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been slow to realize the advantages of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) are critical to remaining competitive—especially with new over-the-top (OTT) players entering the market.

A recently published white paper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence, identifies cultural and practical differences between IT and network operations as a major stumbling block keeping operators from fully leveraging the agility, dynamic scaling, and efficiency advantages of network virtualization.

In this, the second in a series of CSP case studies, we look at yet another operator’s experience with NFV deployment and how an architectural approach integrating IT virtualization from the start could have accelerated return investment while keeping future options open.

Case Study #2: From Old Silos to New Silos

This national mobile operator, determined to move forward with NFV, had strong internal core network competencies, but lacked virtualization expertise and experience.

While staff were adept at meeting network service level agreements (SLAs), maintaining network facilities and managing network traffic, they were unfamiliar with:

– Technologies in the virtualization stack

– Designing flow architecture for software-defined networks

– Managing software-defined networks

– Orchestrating workloads across network domains

– DevOps service delivery models

Limited Choice: Niche or Proprietary?

To supplement its in-house expertise, the CSP planned to leverage services and solutions in the “ecosystem” of software-defined network solution and service vendors touted in NFV lab trials, by ETSI, and others.

In practice, however, it discovered its choice of partners was starkly limited to:

  • New suppliers that had delivered innovative technical solutions in the lab or in small scale node-based deployments, but had yet to been proven in large-scale production networks.
  • Traditional network suppliers with the proven capability to deliver production-reliability at scale, but with solutions designed largely around their own products.

Fear of the Unknown

Given network operations reservations about the reliability of software-defined networks, the CSP decided against working with untested smaller companies and opted to partner instead with its existing large network suppliers.

To avoid vendor lock-in, it asked both of its radio access network (RAN) suppliers to virtualize their Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) platform using NFV/SDN. It also directed them to incorporate open system technology into their vEPC solutions to optimize interoperability.

Battle of the New Silos

Unfortunately, what ensued was a battle between vendors and two new silos.

While both suppliers succeeded in delivering vEPC functions that ran on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) servers, each had virtualized EPC and related applications in a unique way. As a result, each required their own unique orchestrator to manage the virtual network.

Neither vendor could develop an orchestration solution for both platforms.

Recognizing that multiple orchestrators would negate many of the agility and efficiency advantages of NFV, the CSP eventually turned to a third-party provider of a multivendor orchestrator built on open source technology. The CSP also hired and invested in training in its staff to be able to implement and manage the open source virtualization stack.

Bottom line, the CSP is now working to consolidate its vEPC silos into a single platform. The cost savings and automated agility it had expected to gain from its investment in NFV/SDN has not been realized and critical 5G and IoT initiatives have been delayed.

New Ways of Thinking

How might this mobile operator have avoided the complicated and interim step of replacing old hardware platform silos with new virtual platform silos?

The CSP’s initial strategy—to leverage outside expertise to kick start its NFV initiative—was sound, as was its commitment to open source technologies to optimize interoperability.

Their mistake?

To turn to two different traditional network partners who were unable or unwilling to provide vendor independent network choices.

Traditional network vendors will naturally want to deploy virtualized applications and infrastructure based on their own products, but if asked by the customer to provide vendor independent aspects to the implementation, many could accommodate this request. CSPs now have the option to pair their traditional network vendors with open, non-proprietary infrastructure. By doing so, they can now take advantage of a virtual infrastructure that will dynamically and automatically adapt to changing workload demands and unpredictable and varying traffic patterns.

In short, by building upon proven and open infrastructure solutions, they can take a holistic view and architectural approach across physical, virtual and application layers.

Based on our experience working with CSPs on some of the largest NFV deployments in the world, including the largest OpenStack Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) deployment, we recommend an application-driven strategy. Applications, not infrastructure, drive revenue. However, choosing the wrong infrastructure can hamper revenue and increase OpEx.

Therefore, the virtualized network function (VNF) application requirements should drive the definition of a common architecture, infrastructure, and set of tools across both IT and Network Operations.

A composable architecture, with Management and Orchestration layers that mediate between different application requirements, for example, should guide the selection of the right partners to help onboard required VNFs, test and certify the underlying infrastructure, integrate VNFs into OSS/BSS functions, and deploy proof of concept.

By stepping back from the traditional closed and proprietary network viewpoint and implementation to leverage consultative and architectural expertise integrating both legacy network and IT virtualization from the start, this operator could have avoided replacing old silos with new silos—and considerable time and cost delays.

Summary

As CSPs work toward envisioning and executing NFV-based capabilities in their networks to help them conduct business in smarter and more agile ways, look for solutions that bring:

  • Open architecture – offering maximum choice, flexibility and investment protection, without forklift upgrades.
  • Modular systems – with open building blocks enabling mix and match interoperability, up and down the stack.
  • Modern, cloud-centric portfolio – comprising of modern systems and technologies, and supporting the leading Linux and OpenStack distributions plus software options for data plane acceleration and service chaining.
  • Scalable solutions – including systems tailored to your multitude of workloads and designed to grow with your business.

Next time: Skepticism at the Top: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

The post Silos Never Die: A Case Study in NFV Deployment appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.


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Why Does Dell EMC Invest in Open Networking?

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This week is Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2018, and while Dell EMC has been quite active in launching Open Networking products leading up to this event, including the launch of our Virtual Edge Platform 4600, and emphasizing the broader role that Dell Technologies plays for service providers, I’d like to take a quick moment to reflect on Dell EMC’s investment into the open source ecosystem and our commitment to embracing disaggregation where it makes sense for the industry.

yellow sign with the words com in we're open

What’s been happening in open source and how has Dell EMC been engaged?

The industry continues to see rapid innovation through open source, and a growing set of communities and projects designed to accelerate adoption of open source by producing everything from reference designs to production code releases. In 2018 alone, we have seen announcements for the Linux Networking Fund (LNF), “dNOS” (AT&T’s open, disaggregated network operating system), Akraino (software stack supporting cloud services at the network edge), Stratum (ONF’s open source SDN switching platform). And, it’s only March!

Open Source initiatives have become fora to align with service providers on key industry-wide initiatives, and define solutions through contributions code (i.e., the code is the standard), rather than through standards documents; to demonstrate technology feasibility and readiness; and to create the frameworks which will become the foundation of future networks.

Over the last several years, Dell EMC has continued to lead Open Networking, embracing disaggregation as a means to accelerate solutions across the entire Service Provider network. Dell EMC has invested into and participated in numerous open source projects, including OpenSwitch OPX, Open Networking Foundation (ONF), from Open Compute Project (such as SAI and ONIE), and Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization (OPNFV). Dell EMC has also been a leader in launching new open source projects, including as a founding member of EdgeX Foundry. We have also seen success by helping customers operationalize Open Networking in production deployments, such as the mission-critical V2V/V2X Verizon Connect Container Cloud Platform (VCCP), which leverages Dell EMC’s Open Source NOS based on Open Switch – OS10.

Why does Dell EMC invest in open source?

By investing into open source projects. Dell EMC is able to better evaluate the future of the dis-aggregated software stacks, and determine how to best innovate at the infrastructure layer in support of simplified on-boarding, integration, and management, enhanced performance, and scaled operationalization. For Dell EMC, our contribution and participation to open source initiatives are important in providing maximum choice to Service Providers looking to realize the power of the network, from edge to core to cloud, and to accelerate software-defined and virtualized networks. In fact, I wouldn’t even limit this statement to Service Providers – many of our largest enterprise organizations are also embracing Open Networking at a pace equivalent to, or faster than, our Service Providers.

As the myriad of open source communities continues to grow increasingly complex, Dell EMC will continue to monitor the changing landscape and re-evaluate our role in leading Open Networking, and continue to deliver solutions that minimize technology and investment risk. On the positive side, these open source projects are all focused on modern software architectures, embracing agile development and modularization, allowing best of breed technologies from multiple projects to be integrated to create even better networking stacks.

What’s next for Dell EMC?

For 2018, as part of our commitment to continue to invest into open source initiatives to gain increased visibility into how our infrastructure is affected by the growing desire to separate infrastructure from software and software control plane from software forwarding plane, Dell EMC will strategically prioritize three core organizations related to open source networking:

  • The OpenSwitch (OPX) Network Operating System
  • Open Networking Foundation, to increase our visibility and participation in projects such as Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center (CORD), Open Network Operating System (ONOS), P4 and Stratum
  • Linux Networking Fund (LNF), to provide increased exposure and Dell EMC thought leadership to projects such as Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), OPNFV

We look forward to continuing to engage with the industry, work with our service provider customers as partners, innovating together towards new architectures/technologies, and contributing to the evolution of network through these organizations.



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For Communications Service Providers, Digital Transformation Requires Right Partner

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It’s accepted knowledge across industries that companies that don’t undergo a digital transformation will find it difficult to survive in the coming decade. Legacy technology simply can’t support the performance and virtualization that businesses need to operate efficiently and provide modern products and services to their customers.

Photo by Javier Bosch on Unsplash

But demand for modern infrastructure really begins upstream, with the Communications Service Providers (CoSPs) that own the networks powering business connectivity. The problem is that many large CoSPs are still operating on a wide range of proprietary, legacy technologies themselves. These technologies require a large number of people to maintain and operate them. In addition, these technologies deliver network speeds and responsiveness that are less-than-optimal for the businesses downstream.

To start the transformation process based on this starting point, CoSPs have the seemingly insurmountable task of becoming virtualization experts, sorting through hundreds of vendors and products to architect the ideal infrastructure, and implementing the new technology in an optimal way, all without disrupting existing services.

More realistically, CoSPs need a reliable, knowledgeable partner to help them set a digital transformation strategy, prioritize and select technologies, and undergo digital transformation in a way that sets them up for success.

5 Key Focus Areas

CoSPs’ most pressing need (and opportunity) is to infuse infrastructure with more cloud technology to make it faster, more responsive and more automated. To do so, they need to adopt a significant amount of compute and virtualization technology across nearly every aspect of their infrastructure, starting with the following five areas:

  • CoSP cloud – Central Offices need to evolve beyond physical appliances to provide cloud-based services to customers. This means upgrading to virtual appliances, then implementing virtual network functions, including software-defined networking (SDN). This will serve as a mechanism to stitch services together as well as help scale the networking topology between virtual functions.
  • Next-gen access – Today’s companies need higher bandwidth to support their day-to-day operations and provide products and services in a fast and reliable way to their own customers. Providing next-gen access typically means migrating from static and expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) virtual private network (VPN) circuits and physical customer premise equipment (CPE) nodes to more virtualized CPE nodes and secure access technologies, along with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).
  • Operations and business support systems (OSS/BSS) transformation – CoSPs need to make it faster and easier to launch new services to customers by incorporating automation and telemetry and ensuring the systems they use to deliver network-based services have application plug in (API) -driven capabilities.
  • Edge computing – To deliver services more rapidly across widespread markets, CoSPs will need to adopt enterprise edge computing in the next 12-18 months. There are a number of approaches for doing this, from evolving the Central Office with architectures such as Central Office Architected as a Data Center (CORD), to building an edge services cloud incorporating capabilities such as multi-access edge computing (MEC) to the evolution of the edge outside of existing physical facilities with modular data centers.
  • 5G infrastructure – When 5G becomes available in the next 18-36 months, CoSPs will be tasked with a new set of challenges. The requirements of 5G are roughly between 100-1000 times the performance and scale of 4G, at 1/1000th the latency, with significantly different economics on the monetization and operations. SDN will no longer be contained within the Central Offices, and CoSPs will need to embrace end-to-end SDN principles, such as network slicing. Network functions virtualization (NFV) will no longer be a centralized function running inside a virtual machine (VM), but inside containers or even running on top of bare metal.

The Partner CoSPs Need

Dell EMC makes digital transformation much easier for CoSPs. Not only are we a worldwide leader in compute and cloud-enabled IT infrastructure, we have the partnership framework in place to strategically and holistically guide CoSPs through the process of modernization across all five key areas.

Our experts give CoSPs the technology and tools to assemble the right combination of infrastructure and service capabilities to serve their business customers and remain competitive for years to come. Dell EMC’s focus on open-standards-based, disaggregated architecture means CoSPs won’t relive the mistakes of the past, trading proprietary solutions and vendor lock-in for a flexible, future-ready, scalable architecture.

The harsh reality is that most CoSPs won’t achieve the levels of virtualization and optimization they need without the right partner on their side. Dell EMC is poised to play a pro-active role in reshaping the future for service providers as they achieve digital transformation and provide the modern technology that will power the coming evolution of business.

 



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Home Thoughts from Abroad at Mobile World Congress

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Transformational Change and the Telecom Industry

Here at the annual gathering of telecom leaders at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I am struck by how the industry periodically goes through transformational step changes.

These changes usually happen quite abruptly and are typically caused by shifts in usage patterns or the disruptive entry of a new business case when the priorities of yesterday may be rendered irrelevant. You only have to remember WhatsApp, and how almost overnight, it destroyed the SMS text business model. Of course, the industry has been evolving for years. We’ve moved from the remote sending of messages or voice communication by phone to today’s focus on connecting technology to people via devices, or the Cloud.

Network Virtualisation

Let me use an example that may feel more familiar. Telecom infrastructure (in terms of compute, storage and networking) used to be regarded as a purely physical thing. Something to be consumed by different types of applications. The industry traditionally built appliances with infrastructure, middleware and workloads. However, with the advent of NFV, workloads have now become virtualised, delivering greater flexibility, quicker time to market and smarter use of resources.

Workload management with the Cloud and the Edge

While some companies were in a technology race to be first out of the gate with a virtualisation stack and other technologies, I am glad that the focus throughout has remained firmly on resources in the infrastructure, and more importantly, the box. With the introduction of Cloud on one side and Edge on the other, we are now seeing a new transformation. Workload management, in its various guises, is rightly becoming the focus for Telecom and NFV rather than worrying about what the workloads run on, or what stack is being used.

Software-defined infrastructure

As a result, we are seeing the emergence of Software-defined Infrastructure (SDI) –  the concept of allocating bare metal resources in geographically distributed sites and grouping them together to manage in a virtual datacentre. The advantage of SDI is that it can place workloads in either private or public Clouds to maintain data integrity while increasing speed and efficiency.

I think that this transformation is being driven by the fact that NFV is not moving towards the homogenous execution environment that was expected some years ago. Instead, it is moving in the opposite direction with more variants of virtualisation, like containers as well as the need for bare metal execution of workloads.  Added to this, we are also seeing an increased need to place workloads closer the end-user for latency purposes and to deliver a better user experience, as well as the movement of workloads towards the Cloud for scale and economy. This is all without changing the environment or redeploying the products. I think that this development is pretty remarkable.

A software-defined future

In fact, I believe that we might well be seeing the real emergence of a software-defined future, where flexibility is fulfilled by automation, orchestration, policy, analytics and reporting.  After all, a large share of the potential value coming from digitisation across global industries over the next decade is dependent on the telecom industry delivering productivity improvements. According to the 2017 World Economic Forum, the digital transformation of telecommunications represents a $2 trillion opportunity for industry and society.

Interesting times ahead! I’d love to hear your comments, predictions and questions. Click here to read what my colleague, James Hole from Dell EMC OEM has to say on the role of specialist telecom companies.  Click here to read the views of our marketing lead for OEM Telecom solutions. Finally, if you’re at Mobile World Congress, we’d really love to meet you! Do visit our booth in Hall 3, Stand 3K10 where we are showcasing the following solutions:

Edge Solutions

  • View the newly designed micro Modular Data Center (MDC) – debuting at Mobile World Congress – and learn how you can embed compute and storage capacity at the edge where data is being generated.
  • Re-imagine the customer edge with new universal CPE platforms and SD-WAN Ready Node solutions.

Core/Cloud Solutions

  • See how you can bring the cloud to the network with our NFV solutions and Telco Cloud offerings.
  • Experience Dell EMC’s larger MDC capabilities with a virtual and interactive tour. Put on a headset and be transported to one of our latest MDC designs, the Flex Module.
  • View our open and flexible rack scale infrastructure, the DSS 9000, and see how Dell EMC is enabling NEBS-compliant rack scale solutions.

 IoT Solutions

  • See how Dell EMC Isilon scale-out NAS and Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) solutions provide highly efficient edge-to-core-to-cloud storage with built-in analytics to unlock the value of your IoT data.
  • Discover how Dell IoT Gateways transform Fleet Management by eliminating machine to machine telematics silos, for more cost savings; increased customer satisfaction and safety; and improved employee performance.
  • Learn how Dell IoT is revolutionising the building services sector and facilities management by transforming high energy costs into savings with a powerful, integrated intelligent building solution.

Learn more about Dell EMC OEM



ENCLOSURE:https://blog.dellemc.com/uploads/2018/02/abstract.jpg

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Failure to Migrate: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

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As discussed in part one of this blog series, Bridging the Operational Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment, and despite considerable investment, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been slow to realize the advantages of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). NFV and SDN are critical drivers to remaining competitive—especially with new over-the-top (OTT) players entering the market.

A recently published white paper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence, identifies cultural and practical differences between IT and network operations as a major stumbling block keeping operators from fully leveraging the agility, dynamic scaling and efficiency advantages of network virtualization.

In this blog, we take a look at one carrier’s experience and how an agile operational approach can serve to bridge the IT/Network Operations gap and accelerate return on NFV/SDN investment.

NFV Deployment Case Study #1: Failure to Migrate

This European-based Tier 1 multinational CSP, with operations in 20+ countries, set out to be an early adopter of NFV.

The CTO began by creating an overlay organization of IT and network experts to develop an enterprise NFV strategy. The integrated team lab-tested NFV and management and network orchestration (MANO) solutions from multiple suppliers and selected a single IT services partner to help them implement a common environment in regional data centers and deploy their selected NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and MANO solutions across all of its operating companies.

Within the regional data centers (where virtualization concepts were understood) the transition to NFVi went smoothly. Network engineers in the operating companies, however, struggled with separating network functions from the underlying physical hardware—as evidenced by questions such as: “If a function experiences a fault, how do we know which server or storage device to check?”

Faced with network engineering mistrust in the virtual ability to automatically shift capacity to whichever functions need it, the CTO permitted each operating company to opt for either the fully virtualized solution or a “hybrid” model, in which the IMS application platform was virtualized, but physical capacity was dedicated to specific functions.

With each operating company essentially dictating the configuration it wanted, including custom software, the CSP was unable to realize the benefits of automation across the enterprise. Not only did the fragmented solution take more than two years to deploy, project costs were much higher, due to both extensive vendor customization services and dedicated hardware capacity.

Today, with resources continuing to focus on non-critical elements rather than close-to-the-customer applications, the CSP is still pursuing full NFV transformation and currently implementing industry standard operating models with sufficient assurance measures to satisfy the network side.

How Might All of This Have Gone Differently?

In our experience, many of the open standards and “service-centric” lessons learned through maturation of IT virtualization and IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) enablement over the past decade can be leveraged to help CSPs drive the people, process and technology transformation needed to succeed with NFV/SDN.

For example, the CSP could have avoided bifurcation of its NFV deployment by applying the ETSI NFV framework to architecturally separate each network vendor’s “appliance” into:

  • Infrastructure (NFVi) – Compute, storage, networking
  • Network function (VNF) – Application layer to provide customer configuration and execute the network function
  • Management software (MANO) – Allows operation and management of the layers

Another recommendation would have been to build on the CSPs existing IT-side as-a-service capabilities and the consumer-centric organizational structure, processes and closed feedback loops of today’s mature IT Service Centers to create an agile NFV Service Center as illustrated below.

Additionally, this CSP could have looked to build upon a pre-validated NFV infrastructure platform, such as the Dell EMC NFV Ready Bundles for VMware and/or Red Hat. These bundles are designed to simplify deployments by removing the complexities of NFV frameworks. Ultimately, they will reduce the overall cost of production and accelerate time to revenue.

Dell EMC Agile NFV Service Center Organizational Model

 

By combining the strengths of both its Network and IT organizations in a new service-oriented organization, the CSP could drive people and process changes that shift focus from infrastructure to services and applications, as well as to put a structure in place to manage the ongoing modification/build of services and operations to meet business and consumer needs.

To read more about this and other case studies—as well as about Dell EMC NFV consulting services that can help drive the holistic people, process and technology transformation necessary for NFV/SDN success, read the whitepaper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence.

Next Time:  Silos Never Die: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

 


Today’s Travel Tip

Know how to reach your airline regarding complaints!

With so many travel challenges and service failures these days by travel providers (particularly airlines), I have found it helpful to be quite vocal to their respective customer service organizations via email.  In addition, airlines and other travel providers generally monitor twitter and other social media to respond to customer issues.

Some helpful hints in raising issues:

  1. Be specific – list the specific flight number, date and issue.
  2. Be insistent – point out your frequent flier number and status.
  3. Be rigorous – keep a log of everyone you talked to with names (and their corresponding call center city), dates and what they said.
  4. Be flexible yet aggrieved – ask for compensation in the form of either credits, travel vouchers or miles/points.
  5. Escalate – if all of the above fails, consider the old standby- a ‘snail mail’ letter to the CEO of the company at their corporate headquarters (all located via searching the internet, not necessarily their website).

Most major airlines have forms on their website you can complete. In addition, many such as United and Lufthansa provide additional direct email addresses (e.g., customer.relations@united.com, customer.relations@lufthansa.com) which can prove fruitful in getting results. Good luck!

The post Failure to Migrate: A Case Study in NFV Deployment appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.


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