Thanks to all who joined us for Blue Planet‘s LSO Report Webinar: Lifecycle Service Orchestration – Moving From Promises to Production. During the webinar, Blue Planet highlighted multiple real-world LSO deployments with leading global service providers, as well as the latest LSO-related innovations designed to make service agility and operational transformation a reality in your own business. After the webinar we took questions from the audience. Read the full Q&A below.
What is the best way to get started with LSO?
First, it is important to recognize that the adoption of LSO should not be taken lightly. LSO represents transformation – a change to current methods and procedures. The transformation to LSO is best thought of as a multi-phase journey. We say, “start small, leverage the strengths of technology, and then build success on top of success.” We have found, from working with Blue Planet customers, that the best way to get started with LSO is to pick an application and get started with some form of orchestration – specifically, multi-domain service orchestration (MDSO). The orchestration platform is key. We know that standards like LSO are still evolving and new standards will come into play in the future. Thus, the platform must be highly flexible, one that you control, and something that you can change and build upon incrementally.
Ciena’s Blue Planet platform was designed specifically to enable flexibility through its innovative model-driven templating approach. Blue Planet’s microservices architecture and containerization accommodates frequent and incremental change. And, the Blue Planet DevOps Toolkit and open, community-based development gives control of the management stack back to network operators, who can now on-board new network devices and network functions and incorporate them into new services.
How should I pick which services to orchestrate and automate?
Which service is the “right service” will depend on the network operator and their specific needs and challenges. However, considering that the benefits of orchestration and automation include: increased speed, reduced errors, and differentiated services, we recommend considering the following:
- Which services are turned up most frequently?
- Which services require coordination between teams of people, process and tools?
- Which services would customers benefit most from “fast turn-up?”
- Which services have proven to be problematic and error prone in turn-up?
- For which services would having a competitive advantage in the speed and predictability of delivery most help your business?
What applications or services are ready to be virtualized today?
There are many applications and services that can be virtualized today. Some of the services being virtualized and deployed in production networks include virtualized firewall, routing, encryption, load balancing, anti-virus, content delivery, evolved packet core, etc. Also, many of today’s connectivity services – i.e., carrier Ethernet and IP/MPLS services, are delivered through networks that include virtualized components such as virtual CPEs (vCPEs) and routers. Finally, cloud-based anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) includes virtualized service components in the cloud, as well as virtualized network connectivity and virtualized network functions. The range of applications is already large today and continues to grow.
What skillsets are necessary to get started with orchestration and LSO?
The requisite skillset depends on the technologies and products being used to implement orchestration and LSO. However, for Blue Planet, required skills are fairly straightforward and many people can come up to speed quickly with the following knowledge:
- Comfortable with Linux and regular expressions (RegExp)
- Awareness of general SW management and API tools
- Familiarity with concepts like VMs, containers, microservices
- Familiarity with TOSCA, YANG, BPMN is helpful, but not required
- Programming is not required, but experience with Python, Scala, JSON is a plus
Also note, one of the webinar presenters (Abel) works full-time in marketing. He recently took a week-long Blue Planet developer training class. While he had some software experience from being a software developer 20 years ago, he has no experience with Python, Scala or JSON. At the end of training, Abel was able to build and modify Blue Planet Resource Adapters (RAs) and to use Blue Planet for introducing new services through the creation of service templates (STs).
Is community-based development real? Why should I give away my hard work?
First, community-based development is real. There are a number of well-recognized and highly successful open source projects that are driven by community-based development. Projects include Linux – operating system, Tomcat – web server, Cassandra – database, Kafka – message bus, etc. In each case, the community has developed core functionality that can provide benefits to many applications and ultimately complements your hard work. So today, application builders build applications more quickly because they leverage core functionality. And as they make enhancements and fixes to core functionality, they contribute their changes to the core back to the community.
Because of the success seen by other community-based developments, we established the same approach within Blue Planet Developer Community, which we call the DevOps Exchange. The DevOps Exchange provides an open environment where Blue Planet customers and ecosystem partners can collaborate on the development of resource adapters and service templates. We have seen significant contributions from network operators as well as from vendor partners.
Does automation, streamlined operations, and OpEx savings mean job loss?
If one were to amortize cost of operations across all orchestrated services, we would see that the operational expenses associated with a given service would be lower and the number of man-hours would also be lower. However, as we know, the network is changing. New users, new application and new expectations are driving new requirements and the need for new services. As a result, network operators are pushed to do more with less. So, our practical experience is that there are significant OpEx savings. And at the same time, the operations team becomes a focal point for implementing orchestration and automation, and further, the operations team typically grows.
What benefit does LSO, SDN and NFV offer to a small network operators who aren’t building/provisioning new services on a daily basis?
One of the benefits of LSO, SDN and NFV is rapid turn-up, which clearly benefits larger operators that are turning-up lots of services. But that’s not the only benefit. For example, many industry experts are talking about how LSO, SDN and NFV are helping to create new sources of revenue, streamline OpEx and reduce CapEx. Additionally, network operators of all sizes could benefit from:
- Interoperability – LSO promises to bring standardization, interoperability and a simplification of how services are stitched together across multi-provider networks
- Programmability – SDN enables more comprehensive software control and richer integration with other software systems such as OSS, self-service customer portals and other high-order tools and applications
- Agility – NFV allows network functionality to be deployed with the ease of software, thus facilitating faster creation and introduction of new services