How many motorists have driven twenty times or more around a Parisian neighborhood in search of a parking space and finally wished they could instantly swap their 4x4 or SUV for a Smart or a compact car? Trying to park in Paris these days is a wasted effort and many of us end up trading body dents, parking tickets or worse in order to reach a business meeting on time. Trend setting CEO’s and start-up owners are not akin to these problems though - they don’t have a minute or a dollar to waste and know just how efficient a scooter or motorbike-taxi can be.
That’s an interesting analogy to what’s happening in the edge cloud and at customer premises. Virtualization in the data center may well have triggered a new wave of innovation in communications space with software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) but it’s far from reasonable to think that you can bolt a couple of data center servers to a radio-mast for low-latency local compute, or drop one into a small outlet or branch office to serve as enterprise-grade customer premises equipment for virtualized network functions in applications such as software defined wide area network (SD-WAN). Other factors matter at the edge including environmental, footprint, power consumption and redundancy among others.
Today, communication service providers (Comm SPs) are finding an increasing number of supplier offerings that allow them to remotely and securely connect to a fully functional network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) for virtual network functions (VNF) onboarding using a pre-qualified set of VNFs. However, what they are in most cases tapping into is a vast scale-out compute infrastructure similar to that which exists in a hyperscale data center.
What Comm SPs want for network edge development is easy access to a range of networking and compute platforms that they can use to rapidly size the configurations needed to optimally balance capex, opex and capacity strategies when planning their future virtual service edge and virtual Enterprise CPE (vE-CPE) rollouts.
When planning large-scale deployment of new or replacement customer premises equipment, Comm SPs need to take a serious look at how to amortize their capex budgets especially when embarking on a rollout of thousands of branch office platforms. Hardware equipment that is over-specified brings extra capex overhead due to unnecessary features while underspecified platforms can be the source of costly replacement programs and unwanted truck rolls.
What is crucial before parking or installing appliances at the network edge is the Comm SP’s ability to correctly size compute, offload, memory and network throughput based on different VNF resource requirements for routing, firewalling and load balancing.
This is an exercise that Advantech takes from theory to practice by putting partner portals at the developer’s fingertips which connect to a variety of edge platforms ranging from Intel® Atom™ to Intel® Xeon® Processors with one to many cores, equipped with multiple gigabit to 100GbE ports, integrated into not only tabletop and rackmount appliances destined for customer premise deployment, but also carrier grade servers and blade servers for virtual service edge installations.
By tapping into Advantech’s Remote Evaluation Service (known as RES), Comm SPs gain access to a comprehensive framework for remote evaluation and performance testing of NFVIs and VNFs across a wider selection of platforms and hardware configurations. This enables Comm SPs to test throughput and uptime as well as application performance in order to guarantee the optimum user experience. It also helps them to ensure that OPEX savings have been maximized and revenue impact resulting from possible service level agreement (SLA) penalties can be minimized.
An overview of Advantech’s remote evaluation service can be found at www.go-res.com with a live portal from 6WIND* and Canonical* available for developers at http://6wind.testdrive-advantech-nfv.com.
Advantech also announced the opening of a new portal for online vE-CPE white-box testing with the Wind River NFV Platform. The new portal has been designed to accelerate evaluation of the Wind River Titanium Server vBCPE reference design developed in collaboration with NFV software partners Brocade*, Check Point Software*, Riverbed* and ADVA Optical Networking*.
Fine-tuning platforms that provide sufficient processor headroom and the feature sets needed to respond to future demand is critical to the return in investment at the network edge. Especially for volume deployment. It is also important for Comm SPs to gain easy access to readily available integration and test services plus a flexible delivery model to meet unique enterprise customer needs and budget. Comm SPs want their delivery and advance replacement logistics simplified so that they can bring final products to market on time, meet SLAs and enjoy a timely return on investment.
This is why companies like Versa Networks* with their recently announced Versa SD-WAN white-box ecosystem and Brocade with their Vyatta Network OS are taking advantage of the emerging white-box vE-CPE appliance market to pitch Comm SPs with solutions based on open Intel® Architecture platforms tailored for installation and large-scale deployment at the network edge.
Times they are a changing. With bus lanes, bike stations, and parking spaces being transformed for motorbikes or electric cars it’s time to reconsider doing business in Paris by car. 4x4’s and SUVs may be a good investment for the motorways, but in the city the chances are you might never get a chance to park one ever again.