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The Digital Transformation Comes With A New Approach to Service Assurance

The Digital Transformation_Image 1NFV and SDN are past their hype cycle and way into gaining significant traction since their initial introductions into the market. Many of our customers who have deployed or plan to deploy our solutions based on these technologies understand that an important factor for realizing the full benefits of NFV and SDN is service assurance. Service assurance is crucial in the era of digital transformation and in effectively operationalizing NFV and SDN enabled networks, towards offering your customers an outstanding, end-to-end digital experience. However, in today’s virtualizing network, service assurance requires a whole new approach and one that greatly differs from what traditional systems can provide.

First, let’s take a look at some of the important characteristics of the changing cloud infrastructure on which services are offered and what this means for assurance systems.

  • Complexity and scale: Cloud infrastructures are extremely complex due to the large number of distributed network elements across multiple technologies and service domains. The multiple layers of the infrastructure stack which include the underlying physical elements, the virtual overlays, and service components creates critical inter relationships and dependencies. In order to rapidly isolate problems and proactively resolve them, first, the assurance system must holistically understand these links and dependencies and second, it must be scalable given the significant number of services it must support
  • On-demand services and elasticity: NFV and SDN help deliver services agility and enable more flexible service consumption models such as the “pay as you go” option which is increasingly adopted by customers whose service requirements change over time. In this model however, the time between service turn-up and turn-down is much shorter compared to that of traditional services. This means the assurance system must be aware of the dynamic changes to service topologies, in real-time, in order to proactively assure services. Additionally, in NFV based infrastructures, service placement can also dynamically change, such as in failure scenarios. In such instances, the assurance system must again, quickly recognize and adapt to the associated changes.
  • Multi-tenant environment: More and more businesses are turning to the cloud to experience new applications, collaborate on mission critical projects and utilize IT resources more efficiently. Here the service elements (compute, network, storage) that support these functions are virtualized on a per customer and per tenant basis. Therefore, it is essential for the assurance system to have an accurate and contextualized knowledge base on a per customer/tenant perspective in order to understand the potential impact a network issue may have. This is especially important for supporting those customers who rely on your services to run their most critical business functions

With traditional assurance systems, Read More »

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Orchestrated Assurance – Ready for the World

Dr. Vallin Guest blog by Dr. Stefan Vallin, Principle Architect , Cisco and  Mats Nordlund, CTO, Netrounds 

Over the recent years, network service orchestration has gained widespread traction from communication service providers (CSPs) all around the world as a means to automate the tedious and error-prone tasks required to configure network devices.

What if the orchestrator could also automate the deployment and configuration of an accompanying service assurance solution, tailored to the specific services being delivered? This is now becoming a reality using a concept called Orchestrated Assurance.

Learn how from this video…

Orchestrated Assurance redefines existing practices that were built on Read More »

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How Cisco IT Manages UC and Video Services

Cisco IT is transforming itself to deliver IT As A Service (ITAAS), and this is changing the way we deliver all IT services internally, including our unified communications (UC) and video services. For the business, we offer transparent IT cost information and (over time) cost reduction, as well as the ability to re-use service components for faster delivery of new services. For our employees, we are making the processes for ordering and provisioning IT services fast, automated, simple, and consistent. This goal is particularly important for our UC and video services, which provide essential voice and video communications tools for our employees.  Read More »

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Reflections on the Cloud Expo in Silicon Valley and How Do I Know My Apps are Working in the Cloud?

Cloud Expo was indeed a very interesting juxtaposition of people espousing the value of cloud and how their stuff is really cloudy.  You have a group of presenters and expo floor booths talking about their open API and how that is the future of cloud.  Then you have the other camp that tells us how their special mix of functions is so much better than that.   All of this is a very interesting dialog.  APIs are indeed very important.  If your technology is indeed a cloud operating model then you must have an API.   Solutions like Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud rely on those APIs to orchestrate cloud services.   But APIs are not the end all.   The reality is that while the cloud discussions tend to center on the API and the model behind that API, the real change enabling the move towards cloud is the operating model of the users who are leveraging the cloud for a completely fresh game plan for their businesses.

James Urquhart’s recent blog:   http://gigaom.com/cloud/what-cloud-boils-down-to-for-the-enterprise-2/ highlights that the real change for users of the cloud is modifying how they do development, test, capacity management, production operations and disaster recovery.  My last blog talked about the world before cloud management and automation and the move from the old world model to the new models of dev/test or dev/ops that force the application architects, developers, and QA folks to radically alter  their model.   Those that adopt the cloud without changing their “software factory” model from one that Henry Ford would recognize to the new models may not get the value they are looking for out of the cloud.

At Cloud Expo I saw a lot of very interesting software packages.   Some of them went really deep into a specific use case area, while others accomplished a lot of functional use cases that were only about a inch deep.   As product teams build out software packages for commercial use, they have a very interesting and critical decision point that will drive the value proposition of the software product.  It seems to me that within 2 years, just about all entrants in the cloud management and automation marathon will begin to converge on a simple focused yet broad set of use cases.   Each competitor will be either directly driving their product to that point, or they will be forced to that spot by the practical aspects of customers voting with the wallets.  Interestingly enough, this whole process it drives competition and will yield great value for the VP of Operations and VP of Applications of companies moving their applications to the cloud.

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