How to Succeed With SD-WAN Using Virtualized Service Assurance (2017)

By Etienne Martel & Gregory Spear, Accedian

To succeed in the enterprise market, cable multiple system operators (MSOs) must serve nationwide or global corporations that expect their providers to reach all their sites, so they do not have to assemble their own network. This means crossing multiple service areas, including outside the MSOs’ footprint.

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) can help MSOs reach on and off-net sites, over any access media, uniformly—allowing them to leverage the scale and reach of their extensive DOCSIS and Carrier Ethernet services, augmented where required with third party access.

The pitfall: SD-WAN appliances do not offer standards-based test, turn up and monitoring functions required to offer service level agreement (SLA)-grade services. SD-WAN solutions use proprietary monitoring and reporting methods, which do not interoperate with existing network equipment. Because SD-WAN may only be required in certain customer locations, any implementation has to interact seamlessly with traditional service delivery methods.

This is not optional. All MSOs in North America offer SLA-backed services over fiber, and the majority over DOCSIS too, according to a 2017 Heavy Reading study[1]; best-effort only services will not satisfy the enterprise market requirements for uniform services and stringent SLAs.

Virtualized test probes and test reflectors cost-efficiently replicate network interface device (NID) functionality, bringing standards based turn-up testing, monitoring and operations & maintenance (OAM) functions to SD-WAN endpoints. Virtualized instrumentation uplifts SD-WAN with carrier-grade functionality, making it interoperate with existing network infrastructure, operations procedures, and support systems.

In today’s SD-WAN market, the two main deployment architectures are centralized or distributed. They will both benefit from service assurance solutions that can be deployed as software and optionally enhanced with NFV-powered hardware modules.

When selecting a service assurance solution, it is important to choose an industry-proven method for extending standards-based test, measurement, and OAM to virtualized environments for SD-WAN and x86 infrastructure to ensure satisfactory coverage and unified visibility. The interoperability provided by a standards-based solution enables centralizing performance monitoring data into existing reporting and fault-management systems to achieve the operational success of the technology. It also opens the possibility to optimizing the SD-WAN performance by leveraging the highly granular and micro-second accurate end-to-end monitoring data.

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