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Ciena 2013 Prediction - The Service Provider WAN gets Virtualized and Orchestrated

VMblog Predictions

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2013.  Read them in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed article by Mitch Auster is Senior Director, Portfolio Management, at Ciena

The Service Provider WAN gets Virtualized and Orchestrated

In recent years, data center operators have recognized that the internal network connecting virtualized compute and storage resources is an obstacle to fully realizing the possible flexibility and efficiency benefits of the cloud. In 2012, the significance of data center network virtualization reached new heights, highlighted by VMware's $1.2B acquisition of Nicira. We predict that in 2013, Service Providers will ramp up cloud-style network virtualization in the wide area network.

Providers have offered virtual private network (VPN) services for many years; however, such VPN services are fairly static - if a business customer wanted to add a location or change service parameters, they had to place a service call and wait days or weeks for the order to be implemented. Providers have used the same approach to deliver end-user applications such as IPTV and VoIP, with the same inherent friction for network modifications. This was livable when enterprise IT and service product managers could reasonably forecast network requirements several months in advance.

But in the self-serve era of cloud, demand is becoming unpredictable and is exacerbated by the wide range of bandwidth and quality-of-service demands caused by the explosion of video applications, the dynamic nature of where bandwidth will be consumed due to the mass penetration of smartphones and mobile tablets, and the loss of control of where bandwidth demand will originate due to the strength of over-the-top services. One way for providers to deal with this uncertainty - call it the dumb pipe model - is to overbuild capacity, an inefficient model at best.

A more efficient and valuable way is for providers to embrace performance-on-demand. In 2013, we will begin to see more providers  gathering network assets into a programmable pool of resources to be drawn upon - in an explicit fashion - by the applications that need them, when and where they are needed. One such application is the cloud orchestration system. Ciena has shown with its Data Center Without Walls service architecture that cloud providers can reduce compute and storage resources by up to 35% by federating their disparate data centers and enabling workloads to be flexibly placed, migrated and interconnected among them. This requires large volumes of virtual machines and data sets to move between a given pair of data centers in a relatively short period of time. Allowing the cloud orchestration system to dial up inter-data center capacity when needed and turn it back down when the transaction is complete can reduce network bandwidth requirements by 50%. It also allows cloud service delivery from where it makes most sense - perhaps closer to the user-- to improve quality of experience, or from data centers where power is currently less expensive.

The key element to enabling performance-on-demand is the network controller. This software virtualizes the network and abstracts it to the application service-layer through a standard application programming interface (API). It maintains a global view of all resources allocated or available as well as a policy database to control what resources each application or user has the right to request.

This software-defined networking approach results in much greater network efficiency and operations automation and, more importantly, it results in greater network value than a dumb pipe. By allowing service layer software to orchestrate application processing and content transfer decisions - e.g. from which server location, at what compression rate - in concert with network resource decisions - e.g. with what available QoS, at what cost or price - service providers can optimize the total system for improved profitability and customer satisfaction. In 2013, we will see adoption of these flexible and agile operating models that will give IT the ability to better respond and support business initiatives by transparently using both in-house and cloud-based resources.

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Mitch Auster is Senior Director, Portfolio Management, at Ciena.

Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 1:08 PM by David Marshall
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VMblog.com - Virtualization Technology News and Information for Everyone - (Author's Link) - January 15, 2013 7:00 AM

First, I'd like to personally thank everyone for being a valued member and reader of VMblog! Once again, with the help of each of you, VMblog has been able to remain one of the oldest and most successful virtualization and cloud news sites on the Web

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