What emerging service assurance capabilities are needed for NFV networks?

Network and service assurance needs are evolving rapidly, as more applications — both network functions that support telecom network operations, and enterprise applications — are becoming virtualized. SNS Research estimates that service provider SDN and NFV investments will have a compound annual growth rate of about 45% through 2020. Such deployments need assurance for both the underlying infrastructure as well as service assurance for the applications they are handling. Meanwhile, NFV networks are also becoming more distributed, with edge computing resources expected to help support the deployment of 5G and low-latency applications.

RCR Wireless News asked a number of companies from around the service assurance space to weigh in, answering the question: What capabilities do you think are needed for NFV, multi-cloud networks but are not yet available?  Responses have been lightly edited.

Nicolas Ribault, senior product manager, visibility, Ixia solutions Group, Keysight Technologies:

“For NFV and multi-cloud networks, we need the ability to seamlessly collect information on flows and packets in the different sites and collect all information in a single platform as well as the ability to correlate network performance with application performance.”

Sandeep Raina, product marketing director – service assurance, Infovista: 

“The closed loop feedback is critical to the success of NFV, which requires automated synchronization between different service assurance systems, network orchestrators and the virtualized network elements including the [management and orchestration]and [virtualized network function]managers.”

John English, senior marketing manager, NETSCOUT Systems:

“True [artificial intelligence]. We’ve had learning algorithms in our products for years, this is not new — but there’s a new definition of what constitutes real AI: really learning and starting to move toward these neural network, human-type approaches to learning.”

Paul Gowans, wireless strategy director at VIAVI Solutions: 

“Full integration of assurance and managements systems with the NFV orchestration domain.”

Patrick McCabe, senior marketing manager, Nuage Networks:

“Perhaps the next phase of automation would be closed-loop automation where network resources are dynamically scaled to meet application’s service needs more precisely. Similar to the concept of scaling compute resources up and down based on the needs of various virtual machines, with true real-time network measurements in place along with an understanding of application’s SLAs network resources could be adjusted to optimize network resources while measuring and meeting service assurance goals.

“Performance is an important aspect of NFV and a network that has the intelligence, perhaps using AI to automatically deploy these NFVs based on demand in the right location, reallocating resources to absorb peak demand without user intervention is something that is under development.”

Azhar Sayeed, global telecommunications chief architect with Red Hat:

“Better instrumentation of network functions to leverage the available APIs from the infrastructure for self monitoring; correlation of events to determine root cause; re-factoring of applications and network functions done right — not just re-packaged as containers for cloud native functions; and a [publish-subscribe] model for delivery and handling of large numbers of events.

“Red Hat has now built a highly scalable assurance framework that can handle up to 5K nodes with 100s of metrics per node at 1 second interval for monitoring. We need the applications to leverage that framework to build a highly available infrastructure.”

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