Done carelessly, network virtualisation can have the opposite effect to what’s intended. Considering the network as a whole makes it possible to provide agile services while retaining carrier class reliability

Networking is changing fast, as customers come to expect more agile services, delivered from the cloud, and consumable on mobile devices.

And as the world continues to go digital, there’s growing interest in virtualisation among service providers.

It’s not hard to see why. Virtual networks have the potential to deliver the flexible, on-demand services today’s customers are looking for.

Service providers know that if they carry on using physical networks to try and meet these new expectations, their costs will quickly begin to exceed revenues. As a result, they’re beginning to create virtual networks that are more adaptable and scalable.

This enables them to provide customers with the flexibility they need. It also lets them spin services up or down rapidly – enabling a business to meet demand whether it needs to create a network for a sporting event in a remote location, or is expecting a surge in traffic as it live-streams a major announcement.

Not as simple as it seems

But when service providers begin to consider virtualisation in more detail, they often meet unexpected challenges.

Today’s networks often include many different elements. And as they begin to be virtualised, they become even more complex. They combine both physical and virtual technology.

In short, virtualisation can be carried out in different ways. And experience shows that unless you take the right approach, you can run into difficulties, rather than creating new opportunities.

Taking a holistic approach

To make virtualisation work, service providers need to consider the network as a whole, and make sure all the different components are working effectively together. This way, they can transform not only their network architecture, but their operations and business, too.

A well-functioning virtual network brings simplicity and visibility, making it easier to provide flexible services, improve operational efficiency, and take a holistic approach to security.

Successful virtual networks combine a dependable infrastructure with powerful automation.

The key to making this possible is a Network Abstraction Layer, enabled by an orchestration engine, which can provision capacity in real time, deploying resources where they’re most needed.

It can also help them reduce the time it takes to deploy new services from weeks to minutes, while retaining the carrier-class reliability their reputation is built on.

Case study: Level 3

One service provider that has used virtualisation to transform its offer to customers is Level 3.

The company recognised that its customers’ needs were changing. The businesses were adopting Agile and DevOps approaches to constantly develop and iterate new services.

To support this, they wanted to be able to set up new network services instantly, and integrate them easily with cloud-based applications.

In response, Level 3 developed a growing portfolio of network as a service (NaaS) solutions, powered by the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO).

It can now automatically activate services and offer customers the capability to scale bandwidth up to 300 percent in response to demand.

Innovation and expertise – helping you get it right

We are committed to producing the innovative, high-quality technology that makes innovations like this possible.

The Cisco NSO, an industry-leading orchestration engine, uses NETCONF and YANG to model network infrastructure and services in a flexible and open way.

This in turn allows service providers to realise the potential of virtualisation. It enables end-to-end automation across a whole network, and is sophisticated enough to deal with the growing number of hybrid networks.

These capabilities mean that service providers can make their networks simpler and more automated , while maintaining their dependability.

And because the technology is built to open standards, it can evolve with your business. So you can be confident you’re making an investment for the long term.

Virtualisation has huge potential – but nothing is guaranteed. Our expertise, experience and commitment to innovation means we can help providers choose the right technology, and get the best out of it.

And because we understand the complexity of modern networks, we can help providers make their services as simple as possible.

Find out how technology can help you combine reliability and agility to transform your network and business operations. Read more about the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator

Key takeaways

– Many service providers are seeing virtualisation as a strategic way of sustainably meeting new customer demands.

– But virtualisation alone is not the answer – if not implemented in the right way, it can actually lead to more complexity.

– A successful virtual network combines a reliable infrastructure with powerful automation.

– An orchestration engine is the key to making this possible, because it can take a broad overview of the network, allocating resources where they’re most needed.

– Our industry-leading Network Services Orchestrator provides end-to-end automation across virtual and hybrid networks, enabling providers to reduce the time it takes to deploy new services.



Volker Tegtmeyer

Senior Manager, Product and Solution Marketing

SP Cloud Virtualization