Telecoms need a three-layered approach for delivering SDN and NFV

DevOps has not only changed the way development and operations work with each other, but has also shifted enterprise resource consumption habits. In-house teams want more control over network, compute and storage resources, encouraging telecoms to deliver northbound software-defined networking and network function virtualization solutions. 

Deloitte found SDN/NFV services could help telecoms increase revenue, reduce service development costs and enhance infrastructure flexibility. Transitioning to a business model designed to support client-facing SDN/NFV isn't easy, though. DevOps has sparked interest in self-service solutions, through which clients can pick and choose resources according to present and future demands. The problem is, telecoms need to retain control over their service infrastructure, which makes delivering self-service capabilities difficult. 

"The Glass is a portal through which clients can view all of their cloud resources."

In light of this challenge, telecoms need to implement a three-layer model to deliver SDN/NFV services. Each layer is a component within a SDx solution that accommodates both telecoms and their clients. Let's take a deep dive into what this architecture looks like.

Layer One: The Glass 

Think of The Glass as the portal through which the client can view, monitor and manage all of their network, compute and storage resources. At first glance, one would think it doesn't make sense to include compute and storage, given that not all carriers offer such services. However, delivering this kind of oversight gives DevOps teams what they want: a single view of everything they're consuming. Therefore, this layer (and the SDx solution) must be compatible with popular cloud solutions such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

What can a client do once he or she enters The Glass? Listed below are several examples:

  • Manage load balancing across the multiple locations.
  • Assign switches to data centers. 
  • Configure bandwidth and duration coefficients.
  • Choose services from the telecom's inventory.

Telco-side administrators see the same capabilities when they enter The Glass, but have greater controls and permissions. For instance, telcos can use The Glass to manage billing accounts, create new customers, activate services and configure new SDN offerings.

Layer Two: The Engine

Dynamic OSS/BSS functions reside in the second SDx solution layer: The Engine. The Engine consists of OSS/BSS modules which dictate what clients see through The Glass. In this layer, telecoms will find trouble ticketing, real-time pricing, event logging, non-static inventory and other common OSS/BSS functions. Essentially, it allows The Glass to perform as required.

The one feature that distinguishes The Engine from other OSS/BSS solutions is its dynamism. Unique SDN/NFV services require distinct OSS/BSS modules.

For example, suppose a client, an e-commerce business, created a recovery environment in Azure. The client wants to ensure that, if its primary production environment goes down, the telco will automatically redirect traffic to the recovery environment. A unique OSS/BSS module would have to support this function. This doesn't include all the other services the e-commerce company is using to support its web traffic.

In-house teams have control over southbound infrastructure. They need the same oversight of northbound. In-house teams have control over southbound infrastructure. They need the same oversight of northbound.

Layer Three: The Conductor 

As every client uses a different set of services, The Engine needs to support multiple OSS/BSS orchestrators. In addition, some clients may desire the core capabilities different SD WAN, SDN, and NFV management controllers deliver to manage their infrastructure. These disparities would compromise The Glass's simplicity – each user would see the services available differently, which makes managing all those services all the more difficult.

The Conductor manages all of the different OSS/BSS orchestrators and SDN/NFV controllers in use. This layer enforces all of the policies the telecom institutes as well as gives telecoms the freedom to configure whatever services they wish. 

Another key function The Conductor supports is reporting and analytics. While telecoms can pull service reports through The Glass, The Conductor gathers, processes and stores all of the information necessary to conduct analyses. 

The three layers as a whole 

In conjunction, The Glass, Engine and Conductor provide telecoms and their clients with the liberty to deploy and consume whichever services are most advantageous to both parties. They deliver an SDx solution that introduces simplicity to infrastructure management, giving DevOps teams the oversight they need to operate under tight deadlines and fluctuating demands. It's what businesses need today, and it's what telecoms should be delivering.