The promise of automation and lower costs meets real-world complexity
The world of software-enabled networks (SDN/NFV) promises a future with cloud-native levels of automation and operational costs. However, the real world is still characterized by a combination of:
- Physical/virtual/hybrid networks
- Disconnected fulfillment and assurance processes
- Complex and overlapping technology domains
- High levels of manual human intervention
On top of that, “big-bang” transformations of IT operations from legacy to next-generation have frequently failed in the past. So, how are businesses supposed to adapt with growing complexities without forcing a flawed transformation over night? Let’s talk about that.
Federation, the fail-safe path to transformation
Federation – the aggregation of existing data and systems – is an enabler of an evolutionary approach to network transformation and automation that is key to program success. It allows organizations to gain a single view, from which AI/ML can truly learn and provide actionable insights.
Federation of network state, assurance data, and the status of assurance processes will be a key enabler for the extensive utilization of AI/ML, which will ultimately allow a fully automated closed-loop control of networks and services.
Federos provides an enabling platform for real-time federation of the network from existing management system data and data taken directly from devices, such as SNMP traps and Streaming Telemetry. This provides a foundation on which AI/ML assurance intelligence can be built – making it an enabler for transformation of network assurance and analytics.
The above perspective was discussed in the Appledore Research white paper, Real-Time Network Federation – Enabling Closed-Loop Automation.
The key to closing visibility gaps
Federos has been focused on the changing landscape of the technology marketplace and closely works with some of the largest network operations centers. The need to consolidate and process information quickly is paramount to the success of any network operations team, but the fractured network infrastructures brought together through acquisitions and rolled into a single network operations center:
- Creates significant network visibility gaps
- Overloads the staff with swivel-chair complexity
- Reduces productivity
- Increases costs
A key use case for network federation: visibility and universal topology.
In an always-on, always-connected world, downtime is not an option. So when it does happen, the business suffers. Customer downtime is compounded as the network operations team struggles to troubleshoot across large paths of topological uncertainty.
In the case of one Tier1 carrier, it would frequently take a technician working with cross domain inventory systems several hours to manually stitch together the topology of just a single customer encountering a problem. But that was before Assure1.
The Assure1 Universal Topology Engine, combined with the Assure1 Common Object Model, enables the federation of multiple separate networks while enforcing a consistent and enriched data object model.
Dynamic Ingestion via Assure1’s Graph Stitchers captures (in real-time) the changing topological landscape and effortlessly stitches together cross domain layers so that Network Operations Center Technicians can seamlessly render end-to-end views of customers’ slices through their networks.
As an example, four data sources (above) covering different parts of the same carrier network can be seamlessly stitched together for a unified, federated view (below).
Because Assure1’s Universal TopologyTM offers a logical separation between the extensible Data Model and the Display Model, Federos offers a unique capability in displaying custom topologies.
The key to this is adding additional attributes to devices and paths. Attributes like:
- Customer ID
- Weighted Path
- Costed Path
- Circuit ID
- Point of Presence
- CLLI Code
- OSI Layer
By allowing the Assure1 Graph Stitchers to add these additional attributes to the Topological Data Model, customers can then create highly customized Display Models.
Standard Graph Display Model → Custom Graph Display Model with Attributes
With enriched topological data, Assure1 Universal Topology can display things like:
- Least weighted path
- Least costed path
- All paths
But going even further, as Assure1 also collects fault management, performance management, and routing information, we can present “Holy Grail” displays that show a live flow of traffic based on BGP routes. These displays can identify – in yellow or red – where performance issues are on any path in your network.
Below we see an example of a Customer Circuit path through a Carrier Network. The customer had phoned in reporting performance issues. By being able to fully render the logical customer circuit, and because Assure1 is fully managing this network, we can see below where the BGP routing issue has occurred. The return path has failed over to the redundant path that is suffering from performance issues, highlighted in yellow.