As standards for Software Defined Networking (SDN) solidify, the telco industry is converging around a common architecture for SDN implementation in service provider networks. While SDN-based networks have been a long time in the making, SDN rollout is now accelerating globally across multiple service providers, with the majority aligning around a three-tier SDN control hierarchy:
- Network Controller
- Domain Controller
As an early champion of hierarchical control, Sedona Systems understood the importance of having an open and independent control layer between the OSS/BSS layer (service orchestrator) and the various network domains (IP aggregation, IP core, Metro optical, Long-Haul optical). We designed and developed Sedona NetFusion Controller to fulfill the role of the Network Controller, abstracting the complex connectivity of each network domain into a very simple structure that the service orchestrator expects. Our solution talks to all domain controllers, all vendors and all protocols, which means Sedona can work with any infrastructure in an open and standards-based manner.
Taking SDN off the drawing board and into the network
Sedona Systems is a key player in leading SDN initiatives at some of the largest global service providers (see Vodafone blog) where Sedona NetFusion Controller is enabling intelligent automation of entire Optical and Ethernet service lifecycles, using standards based interfaces to the Netcracker service orchestrator on one hand, and to Huawei SDN controllers on the other, controlling Huawei optical and packet-optical equipment. This commercial instantiation of the 3-tier hierarchy is an important step for all SDN stakeholders because it proves that we are indeed able to abstract the network infrastructure and create the “network as a platform.”
From our middle-position in the control hierarchy, we allow the OSS/BSS layer to create and provision services without having to understand the details of how the service will be delivered over transport networks. That’s a big relief. By shielding the OSS/BSS from the complexity of vendor-specific transport implementations, service providers no longer have to spend a fortune on OSS integrations with numerous vendors or referee the finger-pointing wars about which vendor is responsible for a problem. It’s also easier to swap vendors in and out, or to maintain a variety of vendor equipment in the network if that is what works best for the service provider. The last thing a nimble network can afford are vendor-proprietary APIs that limit agility.
Speaking of agility, with an SDN control hierarchy in place, networks can become fully self-aware, self-healing and automated. Instead of scrambling to accommodate surges in bandwidth demand due to high-capacity events, SDN does it automatically. Likewise, providers can implement “pay as you use” charging models, because the network is able to adjust bandwidth capacity on demand, without operator intervention. The benefit is twofold: it frees up underutilized capacity for service providers and eliminates excess charges for customers.
A must-have for 5G
As we all know, 5G is all about guaranteeing performance for different services. Intelligent automation via SDN is really the only way to realize the high-speed, low-latency service potential that is promised. Instead of cumbersome optimization campaigns that require extensive planning and highly manual provisioning, SDN optimizes service on the fly.
For example, as new capacity or connection resources become available, the software-defined network automatically recalculates and optimizes the service path to assure that SLAs for individual services or for entire 5G network “slices” are met. If a service requires low-latency, then it’s routed over the lowest-latency path that is available right now. There is simply no way that manual or partially automated methods will be able to keep up with the dynamic needs of 5G network service.
Another linchpin of the 5G architecture is to handle services at the edge of the network instead of hauling every transaction back to the network core. Clearly, bringing services closer to the customer will reduce latency, but is it reliable? With control over the entire network, the edge of the network becomes just as robust and resilient as the core.
The ability to deploy services close to end customers and to get them up and running in no time opens up customer experience opportunities that service providers have been talking about for a long time.
With Sedona NetFusion Controller playing a critical role in their SDN initiative, leading global service providers are not only talking the talk, they’re starting to walk the walk!