Amdocs has been working on a way to integrate its operation support systems (OSSs) and billing support systems (BSSs) with new virtual network functions (VNFs), and it has created its Network Cloud Service Orchestrator to do so. It’s already using its orchestrator in a partnership with Microsoft.
Amdocs’ work began in November 2014 when it created a separate development group led by Eyal Felstaine to work on a network functions virtualization orchestrator (NFVO). The R&D team built an NFVO from scratch.
The team looked at the ETSI NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) diagram and determined that it was only a subset of everything that service providers needed in the real world, says Justin Paul, head of NFV and OSS marketing at Amdocs. They also recognized a need for software-defined networking (SDN) controllers and integration with cloud networks as well as service providers’ physical networks.
“We knew you had to be able to orchestrate in these hybrid networks,” says Paul. “So we created, about two years ago, a hugely over-engineered orchestrator, compared to others in the market.”
Looking at the ETSI NFV MANO framework, Amdocs plays in the areas of NFVO and virtual network functions manager (VNFM).
“What they built had a close relationship with the OSS part of our business,” says Paul. “So it made sense to bring the two together. It came into the network product business unit.”
Not only does the orchestrator overlap into the OSS part of the MANO diagram, but it can operate in both physical and virtual environments. The orchestrator has an element called “active inventory” that operates in hybrid networks.
Paul gave the example that if the fiber connection to a data center is severed, most orchestrators will see that the VNF in the data center has been lost, and they will try to re-instantiate it. But those orchestrators will not be able to restore the service. Whereas Amdocs’ orchestrator with active inventory will understand that the problem stems from a physical connection. Then the orchestrator tears down the whole service and re-instantiates it in a different data center.
“This is an example of hybrid service assurance,” says Paul. “You have to understand physical linkage.”
Amdocs’ orchestrator is also tied into a service provider’s billing system because, as Paul says, “Customers are doing NFV to address service agility, open up new revenue streams, and cut their costs.”
Cloud-Fusion is designed for operators to provide their business customers with connectivity to cloud applications. Cloud services from companies such as Microsoft can result in numerous contracts and bills. And service providers don’t see any of that cloud services revenue, even though they are providing connectivity.
With Cloud Fusion, an enterprise receives one bill from its service provider for connectivity and cloud services. The enterprise also gets commitments on appropriate bandwidth and latency. Amdocs provides the orchestration and ensures that revenue comes through service providers’ books.
“Part of the Cloud Fusion offering is a portal for the enterprise to select the cloud services they want, and there’s integration for the billing,” says Paul.