Interested in learning more about network functions virtualization and network virtualization? Be sure to check out our pages on Network Service Chaining, Security Virtualization, and Micro-Segmentation & Visibility.
We talked to NEC’s Samrat Ganguly, who will be at the showcase to demonstrate how the company is using SDN for dynamic service chaining. As chief network architect for NEC Corporation of America, Ganguly focuses on helping carriers build scalable SDN-enabled virtual infrastructure for NFV applications, including the virtualized mobile packet core.
SDNCentral: What use case will you demonstrate at the ONF SDN Solutions Showcase next week?
Ganguly: We will demonstrate dynamic SDN service chaining of appliances — both virtual and physical — leveraging our controller and orchestration frameworks. Specifically, we will show an end-to-end, service-driven solution that combines appliance management and network control.
From the orchestrator standpoint, we have two main goals. The first is to drive on-demand, multitenant instantiation and configuration of virtualized appliances. Second, we want to drive the SDN controller to dynamically provision an end-to-end service chaining context.
What specific business problems does the showcase solution solve?
We believe dynamic service chaining is key to any NFV environment where functions are unbundled, virtualized, and deployed on any server location. Dynamic service chaining automates the entire process, intelligently combining these functions based on dynamic, traffic-aware policy. This helps operators on three fronts: 1) reducing total operating costs; 2) creating new revenue-generating services; and 3) reducing the total time to deploy end-to-end services.
Our programmatic approach to SDN service chaining provides flexibility that is key to supporting the emerging DevOps style of build-and-operate. At the same time, it reduces the total cost of infrastructure resources utilized.
Service insertion, also known as service chaining, seems to be the number one use case SDN vendors are talking about. What’s different about the NEC solution?
I definitely agree that service chaining network functions is the top use case for SDN because it enables providers to create rich, flexible networks that are more responsive to customers. Our demonstration is unique because it’s based on a mature product that’s been field-proven with multiple data center customers who were differentiated in terms of scale and programmability.
Most SDN/NFV vendors deliver a general solution for service insertion/chaining that moves from static to dynamic service topologies with the physical network decoupled. Most of these solutions are based on an orchestration framework that applies dynamic configuration, but they lack a programmatic network model that supports SDN service chaining from a network standpoint.
Our model is programmatic, which means it helps define the right APIs to program the network to meet any service chaining requirements. This provides a rich orchestration framework that enables people to create new service chaining applications — an often underserved aspect of service chaining. A rich service chaining application is not just about inserting a set of services in order; it’s also about how to enable intelligent combinations of multiple services.
For example, you can insert a vProbe service that collects real-time information, which in turn can lead to dynamically changing the service graph as performance characteristics change. A programmatic model helps application programmers interact with the network in a transactional way to implement such a solution.
What is one particularly cool feature of the NEC solution?
The coolest feature of the NEC solution lies in the Virtual Tenant Networking (VTN) logical network model. The model applies to an end-to-end network, including physical and virtual OpenFlow-enabled switches, and it enables a programmatic and transactional approach to defining and deploying SDN service chaining.
Unlike modeling configuration, a VTN-based programmatic model can drive creation of dynamic, policy-based intelligent applications that are both traffic- and application-aware. NEC also has added this modeling paradigm to our award-winning ProgrammableFlow Controller and to open source OpenDaylight (ODL) controllers.
Is your solution ready for production? We’ve seen many proofs-of-concept and demoware, but is this the real thing? Can it scale?
Our solution is definitely ready for production. The entire solution is built on our SDN platform that we have been deploying commercially since 2011. We also have worked with real appliance vendors to prove its functionality and scale. Most of our current production-level deployments are focused on enterprise data center use cases, and we are in the PoC stage with Tier-1 global operators.
What can we expect down the road from NEC on the SDN front?
NEC is committed to supporting operators with their SDN/NFV deployments through our strong SDN controller and orchestration solutions. Going forward, our goal is to provide end-to-end solution flexibility combining both intra-data-center and WAN requirements and use cases.
We are working with several operators and appliance vendors to implement these solutions, and we are enhancing our product features to meet our customers’ solution requirements.
Thank you for your time today. We’re looking forward to seeing the demo live next week in Germany. We hope you enjoy SDN & OpenFlow World Congress!
To learn more on NEC on their SDN and NFV offerings, visit their exclusive SDNCentral Channel page for the latest: NEC Channel