In the virtual age, network functions and other applications are taken outside of their traditional hardware homes and relocated to the cloud. Network function virtualization (NFV) is one of the latest ways in which businesses and organizations are taking advantage of the technology innovations in the field of telecommunications and network computing. However, network function virtualization is not without its own challenges. The transitional period that we currently find ourselves in brings with it hurdles such as lower reliability while transitioning to virtualized network functions, interoperability issues, security risks, and difficulties with fault demarcation. Below is a set of 5 procedures intended to tackle the challenges of network function virtualization.
5 NFV Service Assurance Requirements
1-Predicative Network Analytics
Thanks to technologies and applications such as artificial intelligence and real-time network data and analytics, predicative network analytics systems are more powerful than ever. Due to their increasing number of applications thanks to new ways to gather and collect data, these predicative and analytical network technologies are solidifying their importance to network managers. With the objective of NFV service assurance, predicative network analytics can be put to efficiently manage resource utilization and leveraging, for capacity planning, and to recognize and identify potential security loopholes. Eventually, predicative analytics could be fully automated and managed by an artificial intelligence that would be receiving real time data with regards to a network and its components various states.
Unified monitoring is a complex task that could require, should it be possible or practical in each circumstance, the propagating of alarms, events, and logs to the upper layers of network maintenance operations. The vast majority of issues within unified monitoring operations are to do with proprietary APIs causing interoperability, however, given the fact that we currently find ourselves within a transitional period in network functions virtualization, engineers may need to learn to deal with various hybrid-network systems over the next couple of years. Unified networks that enable log and alarm collection from a centralized location also improve the fault demarcation process.
3-Root Cause Analysis Automation
Root cause analysis is a process of problem solving aimed at identifying the root cause of a problem. When receiving alarm and notification logs, automated root cause analysis would greatly increase the efficiency or speed of problem identification with a network architecture. One solution would be for communication service providers to build servers that use a fault library to automatically analyze existing faults and alarms. This dictionary could then be expanded as more and more logs are received through time. Automating this process would also be a cost-effective solution to communication service provider’s labor costs.
In the past, companies would obtain applications and equipment from a single vendor and, if anything should have gone wrong with either the equipment or applications, they would know who to go to for what. Nowadays, with multiple vendors providing equipment for the applications, virtualization layer, servers, and storage, companies could struggle to know where they need to go to fix an issue with any of these layers. One of the solutions being suggested by experts in the field involves communications services providers building and developing teams of experts for each of these layers to deal with various issues as and when they occur.
5-Preemptive Event Responders
As mentioned above, network function virtualization creates a multi-vendor environment that communications service providers, enterprises will need to learn to deal with. With varying technologies comes the need to be designed and built to be as resilient as possible to a single failure point. As the vast majority of fault conditions are identified by management tools and network probes, preemptive event responders should be the ones to respond to these events in as many cases as possible. One of the functions these event responders would need is the ability to reroute traffic to the healthy parts of a network in the event of a single failure point.
These 5 NFV service assurances work towards enabling carrier-grade reliability, which guarantees a five-9s availability standard. This standard allows for no more than 5.27 minutes of downtime per year per service. This is achieved through notifying the network operations center within five minutes so as they may begin to work on a fix. With these standards implemented properly and continually revised and audited, companies looking to begin the transition towards network function virtualization stand the best chance of hitting the ground running. In the future, more and more network functions will begin to become virtualized and automation is likely to increasingly speed up this process. As communications service providers continue to build secure, reliable, and capable carrier-grade networks, it is likely that NFV service assurances will influence the direction of technological innovation within network functions virtualization.