Featured Interview with Spirent CMO Jeff Schmitz: Testing as a Critical Success Factor in SDN and NFV Deployment
Currently, at SDxCentral we are seeing a mix of technology initiatives emerge, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), designed to improve the overall agility of the network. It can be both an exciting and confusing time, with so many quickly changing elements, the opportunities seem boundless while the complexity can seem overwhelming. I sat down with Jeff Schmitz, chief marketing officer at Spirent and chairman of the CloudEthernet Forum, to discuss the SDN and NFV landscape and how testing can provide the predictability and assurance necessary for any SDN and NFV rollouts.
On the topic of complex interactions between overlay and underlay networks, Schmitz said, “At Spirent, we are seeing an exciting influx of energy, creativity, and innovation across the compute infrastructure as well as the overlay and underlay networks. The key is if the industry, as a whole, can work together on a cohesive, end-to-end framework, where services can be orchestrated seamlessly across the compute and network layers. Once this happens, everybody wins.”
He went on to explain the agility and programmability of these environments, “where everything can be dynamically provisioned hundreds, even thousands of times,” can create great benefits, as well as unforeseen consequences. “A small change in a virtual-chain configuration can have a very unpredictable performance impact. As a result, customers are realizing they need to better understand not only the performance and scale of these environments, but also the interdependencies of these new technologies before they deploy them.”
That’s where testing comes in. “Service chains should really be benchmarked every time something has changed, on a per-service or per-chain basis, to make sure there are not adverse impacts to performance and scale,” Schmitz said. “Testing can be used to expose all the functionality in a programmable framework to help customers measure the end-to-end performance and scale of a service chain, as well as verify the impact that any changes will have to that chain.”
Schmitz and Spirent sees the role of testing evolving beyond initial deployments and updates, to help providers “establish and protect ongoing service level agreements (SLAs) around the performance of live virtual networks and virtual service chains,” which could ultimately help them differentiate and monetize their investments. This is certainly true – it’s a critical element of any SDN and NFV deployment by service providers. Without testing, there is no way to understand whether the SLAs they have signed up for with customers will be violated, and the alternative of throwing excess compute and network bandwidth at the issue is just too expensive.
To learn more about what testing, in general, and Spirent, in particular, are doing to help customers tackle the challenges and maximize the benefits of SDN and NFV deployments, check out the video above.