Open Architecture, SDN and NFV: Creating a Virtual Private Cloud

By Mike Aquino, CEO, Overture Networks

As Communications Service Providers (CSPs) around the world look to grow their Ethernet services footprint, they rely on multiple access technologies such as fiber optic cable, legacy copper wiring and TDM circuits. Fore­seeing the need, companies created advanced Carrier Ethernet solutions that support all access technologies in a sin­gle unit of products. Today, Carrier Eth­ernet plays a critical role in network­ing industry. Since 2001, the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) has been evolv­ing Carrier Ethernet as a “ubiquitous, stand­ardized, carrier-class Service and Network defined by five attrib­utes that distinguish it from familiar LAN based Ethernet.” In 2012, the MEF intro­duced Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE2.0) to create a standard approach to wholesale access, multiple service classes and enhanced manageability. This work has made Carrier Ethernet the industry’s packet-based transport technology for all high-performance communi­cation services.

For the CSP, it is about driving cost down and mak­ing innovation into the managed CPE service business. Managed virtual CPE helps drive down Cap-Ex by reduc­ing the number of appliances that need to be installed on the premise. In ad­dition, Op-Ex is reduced through the ability to dynamically install and turn up new services without a truck roll.

It is important to distinguish be­tween the cloud as a destination or service and the newer idea of cloud technologies such as virtualization, distributed applications and dynam­ic compute-storage resources. The cloud is no longer limited to storage and compute resources located in da­tacenters. It is now a metaphor and model for distributed applications built on low cost hardware using Vir­tual Machines (VMs). Now the net­work is ripe for application of cloud principles and technologies, espe­cially at the metro service edge. And when this occurs, network services will benefit from the agility, scalabil­ity and improved resource utilization. Service providers thus gain in opera­tional efficiency and new revenue op­portunities.

Leveraging Carrier Ethernet 2.0, combined with a completely open architecture, SDN, and NFV, it is possible to create the dynamic virtual private cloud. With the security and performance of a private cloud and the dynamic bandwidth and multi-cloud flexibility of the public cloud, the dynamic virtual private cloud equips the service provider and enter­prise with a win-win solution.

Trending Software Defined Network­ing (SDN)

The trend of Software Defined Net­working, divulging out of universities and finding its way into the modern data center, now provides network operators a model for modernizing how they control their networks, inclusive of the move from closed proprietary systems. There have been many benefits proposed for using SDN and Network Functions Vir­tualization (NFV) to modernize the datacenter and network, but these technologies are taking new forms gradually based on their near-term benefits to reduce cost and improve automation.

SDN and NFV are not, however, technologies that live in isolation and they alone are not enough to create commercial, revenue-generating ser­vices. It is the metro access network that is used to deliver services to end customers; and Carrier Ethernet is the preferred transport technology for all high-performance commu­nication services. Thus, the evolu­tion of services will require harmony between SDN, NFV, and Carrier Ethernet. By combining the power­ful technologies of SDN, NFV, and Carrier Ethernet, service providers are able to modernize their networks, cut costs and, most importantly, ac­celerate the creation, activation, and assurance of new services. Contin­ued innovation is required for Carrier Ethernet to support this evolution. New capabilities will enable efficient expansion of new services beyond the data center into the Carrier Ethernet-powered metro service edge.

Today’s business applications de­pend on IP and Ethernet protocols, with Carrier Ethernet being the wide area network (WAN) technology of choice for enterprise access. Among technologies that deliver Ethernet-based business services, fiber optic connectivity is preferred for its near limitless capacity and reliability. However, the vast majority of busi­ness locations cannot access fiber. The locations may not warrant the cost of fiber and those that do may not wait the time it takes for fiber to come within their environment.

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