Virtualization has become a key component of modern communications networks. The ability to dynamically provision and configure network resources in response to changing business requirements is an important aspect of the success of any virtualized network investment. Network automation is the lofty ambition that every service provider is striving for globally. The ability to provision physical network functions (PNFs), virtual network functions (VNFs) and cloud-native network functions (CNFs) from a single network orchestration platform provides communication service providers (CSPs) with great flexibility.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) offers potentially powerful benefits to operators. However, this potential comes with its own challenges, including the complexity of managing all the components required to deliver high quality network services.

Challenges that may arise with NFV

In order for a service provider to offer services over a virtualized network, it first must be able to provide dynamic resource allocation capabilities. The service provider must be able to allocate resources on demand with little to no operator intervention when adding new customers to the network or adapting to changing capacity demands, all without disrupting existing connections.

Service providers may have different orchestration plans for each product offering. For example, a service provider may have variants for voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, more for data services, and yet more for video services. Each of these plans will likely include different types of options on parameters such as bandwidth, IP addresses, etc. Services will also likely require varying levels of quality of service (QoS). A service provider's ability to quickly and efficiently deploy new network services is critical to its ability to compete effectively in today's market.

How MANO tool can help?

A modern network orchestrator will offer the ability to operate in design-time and run-time mode. During design time, the orchestrator can perform various tasks to prepare for deployment of a specific offering (and variants thereof). It might also create network orchestration patterns that require initiating API calls to east-west services, such as resource / inventory management systems or BSS (Business Support Systems). The orchestration plan might include creating a series of tasks that include building logical topology, determining and reserving available physical resources, and defining parameters such as QoS, Bandwidth and more.

Once the operator has designed and tested the design-time orchestration plan, the orchestration tool then allows the operator to execute the plan repeatedly (for each new service instance) in what’s known as run-time mode. This means that the operator can now use the orchestration tool to instantiate the desired orchestration plan for a service type consistently at massive scale. The orchestration solution systematically takes care of the details of how to build each service from the orchestration plan.

The management and orchestration (MANO) tool will also manage the lifecycle of the service instances. For example, when a service instance goes down, the orchestration tool can automatically restart the service instance. Similarly, if a service instance becomes overloaded, the orchestration tool might move some of the workload/s onto other resources.

The key benefits of an advanced network orchestration tool

  1. Scalability - the ability to handle large numbers of simultaneous service instances, network elements and optimise the use of the physical infrastructure available;
  2. Flexibility - the ability to support a wide variety of different service offerings, network slicing, application of network policies, access control, service management, container management, capacity optimisation and management of network configurations;
  3. Consistency - the ability to instantiate the same configuration for every product type and for uniform device lifecycle management every time;
  4. Speed - the ability to instantiate the same service instance or optimise the overall network configuration (delivering autonomous networks) rapidly, in addition to speed-up of time to market (TTM) of new product offerings;
  5. Sustainability - the ability to align the use of physical and virtualized resources with customer demand, allowing turn-down of unutilized resources;
  6. Integration - the ability to integrate with existing systems and tools; and

As more network operators seek to leverage the power of cloud infrastructure and cloud orchestration, there is a growing opportunity to deliver advanced network virtualisation solutions. However, many organisations struggle to incorporate modern approaches in conjunction with their legacy solutions and existing physical networks due to the complexity involved – not to mention the breadth of domain coverage required.

Multidimensional assistance in one solution

Without modern, multi-domain, multi-vendor OSS tools like SunVizion Network Inventory and SunVizion Service Order Management, network administrators find that these orchestration objectives are difficult to achieve. SunVizion Network Inventory supports dynamic allocation of resources in run-time, as well as providing the data model for the Orchestrator to leverage during design-time.  SunVizion Configuration Management also facilitates monitoring of the current state of the network in near-real time to ensure dynamic awareness of what’s really happening in the network.

SunVizion brings together network design, resource allocation, service activation, monitoring, analytics and automation capabilities into a single solution