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WebNMS 2015 Predictions: NFV Services Rely on Multi-Vendor "Last API" Solutions


Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2015.  Read them in this series exclusive.

Contributed article by Prabhu Ramachandran, Director, WebNMS

NFV Services Rely on Multi-Vendor “Last API” Solutions

In 2015, service provider interest in network function virtualization (NFV) will increase dramatically, but the technology's success hinges on its ability to integrate with the provider's strategic assets, including installed physical networks and operational support systems (OSS) infrastructure. Integration requires solving the "last API" challenge, an issue analogous to the "last mile" in carrier access.

Most of the telecommunication industry is familiar with the "last mile" challenge - how to economically give access to the value of new edge and core technologies over the existing wires that actually reach the customer. Wholesale replacement of these wires is often prohibitively expensive. This challenge has driven many innovative solutions, mostly based on advanced digital signal processing hardware that squeezes more bandwidth from the local loop, coaxial cable or radio waves.

Similarly, virtual services like NFV rely on existing infrastructure that touches the customer. In this case, it is also highly unlikely that a forklift upgrade of the physical network or entire OSS will be feasible. This isn't a physical problem, but instead a management software integration challenge with the final leg being the "last API."

Take, for example, the virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) use case. The provider has installed residential or business CPE equipment, perhaps delivering services on a shared network. To increase revenue, the provider wants to bundle value-added NFV services such as security. The existing devices often have sufficient configurability to provide access to a chain of these services. However, service providers almost always deploy multiple CPE devices from multiple vendors across multiple generations. Each type of device may have a different "last API." In this case, that API might be a CLI, SNMP, TL1 or NETCONF. The provider will also need to coordinate operations with their existing OSS and BSS, expanding the API matrix to include CORBA and SOAP. NFV elements themselves might use RESTful management APIs or virtual instances of existing APIs. To configure these devices and systems to work with NFV services requires an extensive API solutions library, hopefully with field-proven reliability.

To integrate NFV, providers will avoid the trap of deploying NFV services as yet another management silo. Existing silos already constitute a major challenge to achieving cloud-like orchestration and efficiency in provider networks. An NFV silo would exacerbate this competitiveness issue and postpone the promised benefits of NFV in resource elasticity and operational efficiency.

Instead, virtualization-savvy providers will unify NFV under their existing or renovated service management systems. To achieve unification, these systems will extend their reach across the end-to-end physical network through the "last API" of each network element and interoperate with various OSS.

As more use cases for NFV emerge in 2015, we expect providers will strongly desire, if not require, these capabilities to remain competitive and increase revenue. NFV integration will be one motivation for network management unification projects throughout the year. These projects will combine innovations in orchestration with trusted network management APIs to create a dynamic and reliable network.


About the Author

With over 14 years of experience delivering service provider software solutions, Prabhu Ramachandran directs WebNMS, the service provider division of Zoho Corporation. Prabhu leads strategic marketing, product management, customer support, partnerships and professional services for WebNMS. Leveraging the technology of the corporation's flagship WebNMS Framework, Prabhu has expanded the business from its longstanding leadership position in multi-vendor network and element management software into vertical solutions for Carrier Ethernet, MPLS, broadband, LTE and satellite networks. In 2012, Prabhu began driving WebNMS into network orchestration, SDN, NFV and IoT/M2M platforms, all critical enablers for service providers to grow profitable businesses. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Electronics and Communication from Madras University, Chennai, India.

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Published Friday, December 12, 2014 6:29 AM by David Marshall
@VMblog - (Author's Link) - February 10, 2015 6:58 AM

Once again, how great is it to be a part of the virtualization and cloud industries? 2014 was another banner year, and we witnessed a number of fantastic technologies take shape and skyrocket. And I, along with many industry experts and executives, media

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