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Network Automation Use Case: Rapid Service Provisioning

It’s the “age of the customer” according to Forrester Research: “Empowered customers are shaping business strategy. Simply put, customers expect consistent and high-value in-person and digital experiences. They don’t care if building these experiences is hard or requires a complex, multifunction approach from across your business. They want immediate value and will go elsewhere if you can’t provide it.”

Service providers know this all too well. Satisfying their customers requires building agile, automated networks that can rapidly provision services and help them achieve greater ROI. So how are they doing? Automation is the “latest and probably greatest collective challenge ever put to the sector” writes Heavy Reading analysts:

“While telecom operators have generally done a good job of automating their customer-facing activities through self-service portals, there is often a long lead time for services to be activated, due to the presence of multiple manual processes between initial order and final delivery. To compete successfully with Webscale insurgents {Amazon, Facebook, Google}, network operators need to extend automation beyond service fulfillment and provisioning to include performance monitoring and service assurance.”

Network Automation Use Case - Rapid Service Provisioning

Automation Across the Service LifeCycle

At Packet Design, we understand how challenging automation is for service providers. To deliver what their customers are demanding, they must optimize their networks for numerous services. These applications have differing, often conflicting performance requirements, growth rates, and fault-tolerance characteristics.

On top of this, service providers must also process a higher volume and rate of requests for network resources that have to be provisioned and de-provisioned rapidly, often within seconds. A few examples include:

  • Adding a new customer to the network
  • Supporting a time-sensitive trading application for a financial services enterprise
  • Temporarily increasing bandwidth between two sites

An SDN controller can automate these requests by issuing commands to the network devices without human intervention. However, as the Heavy Reading analysts state, automation alone is not enough. SDN presents many management challenges for operators, including loss of visibility into changes taking place in the network and the need to capture engineering expertise in SDN applications. SDN controllers lack the management intelligence needed for autonomous networking.

Referring back to our examples, how do operators know if adding a new client to the network will impact performance for other customers? For the time-sensitive trading application, how can network engineers compute short delay paths, segregate the application traffic from other traffic, and fully protect it from link and router failures? To ensure adequate bandwidth between two sites, how can they calculate the optimum path and prevent other services from being affected?

Fortunately, these challenges can be addressed by SDN analytics, fed by network topology, traffic, and performance telemetry as well as projections and algorithms. Telemetry is simply the data; analytics provide actionable conclusions, guiding service providers on what to do with the data gathered from the network.

With its telemetry, analytics, and a policy-driven path computation and optimization engine, the Packet Design Explorer SDN Platform uniquely provides the SDN management intelligence service providers need. Using it, their networks can provision network resources dynamically to accommodate different service types, variable demands, and failures. It’s built on the company’s ability to provide real-time monitoring, back-in-time forensic analysis, and interactive network event and demand modeling.

For instance, the Platform’s predictive analytics give operators accurate impact assessments of application requests for network resources – including whether or not the requested changes will adversely affect other services – and the best way to provision them. Historical traffic matrices (by time of day, day of week) make it possible to determine if network load is likely to change significantly after an application request is satisfied (for example, the predictable increase in market data and trading traffic that occurs when stock markets open).

With this real-time telemetry, analytics, optimization, and policy, the Explorer SDN Platform is making it possible for service providers to reap the benefits of automation. They can build more resilient networks, accelerate service activation, improve operational efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction, and better use infrastructure and human resources.

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