As Gi-LAN has become the architecture of choice for communications service providers operating mobile networks, here at Intel we’re investigating techniques for coping with escalating traffic demands that aren’t handled well by static hardware-based architectures. Through my recent work with an Intel engineering team in the Network Platforms Group tackling this challenge, I can see positive results and a great deal of promise using dynamic Service Function Chaining (SFC) in a virtualized network environment. Dynamic SFC makes it possible to classify and prioritize traffic and to also intelligently direct flow across the network more efficiently than static architectures. Our evaluation of this technology shows that dynamic SFC offers a way to efficiently adjust to Gi-LAN traffic requirements based on network resource demands and—toward this goal—we’re actively working with the open-source community to resolve the technology gaps that hinder large-scale adoption.
A Quick Look at Gi-LAN Architecture
The following figure shows some of the service functions being virtualized to enhance Gi-LAN operations. Dynamic SFC encompasses firewalls, load balancing, content delivery optimization, network address translation, deep packet inspection, and other areas as well. Depending on the policies of a particular communications service provider (CSP), traffic on the Gi-LAN network can take different paths, using the available network resources as efficiently as possible and handling resource allocation dynamically. The Intel® Open Network Platform (ONP) program is evaluating the readiness of current open-source software components to support dynamic SFC, using the Intel ONP 2.0 reference architecture as the basis for the Gi-LAN test configurations. I’m encouraged by the successes in small-scale implementations that we’ve achieved. I’m also looking forward to additional successes from active work we’re doing to bridge technology gaps and achieve full functionality at the commercial level.
Over the coming months, we will be collaborating with solution vendors and CSPs to launch proof-of-concept projects and find ways to strengthen the readiness of dynamic SFC for use on Gi-LAN networks.
As the technologies advance in this rapidly evolving area, learn more about the ways in which Intel and the open-source community are moving toward fulfilling the promise of dynamic SFC for Gi-LAN operators in the commercial space. I invite you to read the full story in this white paper: “Evaluating Dynamic Service Function Chaining for the Gi-LAN”.