Ensemble Carrier Ethernet VNF
Overture’s Ensemble Carrier Ethernet (ECE) VNF provides full CE2.0 functionality anywhere in the network environment while also serving as a high-performance alternative to Open vSwitch. Running on low-cost standard servers, ECE delivers line-rate service chaining performance with low latency and low jitter, making it an essential NFV solution for demanding carrier-class environments.
ECE helps communications service providers (CSPs) utilize NFV to accelerate and optimize the delivery of services with software running on standard servers. NFV promises cost reduction as well as greater agility for accelerated creation and delivery of advanced services. To support this market transformation, software vendors have begun to supply a wide variety of layer 3 virtualized network functions (VNFs) such as routers, firewalls, session border controllers, IP multimedia, evolved packet core, etc.
ECE is intended to bring NFV to the service edge to enable latency, bandwidth and security sensitive services via VNFs. Several other companies have also set out to solve this use-case, but they rely on large servers or hardware assist. Overture’s pure-play virtualization approach embraces the NFV vision for implementing necessary functionality in software operating on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) compute nodes with no need for specialized hardware or hardware assistance in the forwarding path.
The pure-play virtualization approach allows service provider to mix and match best-of-breed software and hardware components to meet various operational and cost needs.
Avoid truck rolls and high-priced custom hardware
ECE’s software virtualization platform functionality makes the network truly programmable by distributing VNF capabilities to all points in the network. Distributed virtualization provides the ability to deploy new services without the need for additional truck rolls to install bespoke hardware.
The layer 2 CE 2.0 functionality of ECE facilitates the creation of management networks that fits various models. CSPs can run side-by-side customer and internal networks that are kept separate at layer 2, matching today’s CSP deployment models.
ECE facilitates the creation of services that match both the needs of the end user as well as the resources available from the operator, wherever those resources may be located. With ECE, CSPs can optimize network management by moving VNFs to optimize use of resources and bandwidth, to recover from network failures, to facilitate maintenance when needed and to enable customer mobility.
ECE enables separation of customer and operator data, providing a layer of security that is much stronger than what is provided by firewalls. Attackers can’t get to the provider management network to launch an attack. CSPs can layer additional security to their internal networks by using ECE to support service chains of VNFs that include security functions such as firewalls, IDS/IPS and DPI.
The CE 2.0 capabilities of ECE enable advanced measurement of network performance such as loss and latency. These performance statistics help the CSP understand the network at a deep level, and take appropriate action for network planning and fault recovery.
Pure-play virtualization provides optimized flexibility
There is no other VNF for layer 2 Carrier Ethernet services. As a result, hybrid solutions have been proposed that combine dedicated hardware with a standard server element. Hybrid solutions do not meet the goal of NFV, which is to combine the benefits of software VNFs running on low-cost standard COTS servers. In addition, the performance of Open vSwitch on these low-end servers is particularly problematic for the virtual CPE (vCPE) application where VNFs are hosted at the service edge of the network.
ECE enables pure-play virtualization, the NFV model of running VNFs on low-cost standard COTS servers with no need for specialized hardware or hardware assistance in the forwarding path. Until recently this pure-play model worked best in a data center where massive servers enable pooling of resources and economies of scale. The cost of the large server and the poor performance of Open vSwitch limited the applicability to the deployment of the vCPE model to the service edge.
ECE helps optimize the benefits of NFV with the same level performance CSPs are achieving with legacy systems. With ECE, CSPs can:
• Deliver layer 2 services and/or use layer 2 Carrier Ethernet as the plumbing for higher-level services.
• Deploy a service chain of standard VNFs connected sequentially.
• Deploy this service chain on low cost standard servers.
• Realize the needed packet throughput.
Furthermore, the pure software nature of ECE has two additional benefits:
• Virtualized services can be deployed at any location in the network, on any compute platform.
• The performance of ECE will scale up with the horsepower of the server. Small servers can be used for vCPE applications, while massive servers can be used for demanding datacenter applications.
With ECE, services may be deployed at the edge of the network with unprecedented performance, running on standard COTS platforms. In April 2015, Overture, Brocade, Spirent and Intel joined to benchmark performance for a pure-play NFV solution running a service chain. With oversight from Integra to ensure that testing matched real world CSP environment requirements, the benchmarks resulted in Gigabit performance for a service chain with low latency and no jitter. (For more information visit: www.OvertureNetworks.com/nfv-performance.
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