Stephane is a customer of Packet Design. In this three-part blog series, he discusses how traditional approaches to network optimization can be improved upon with automation. In Part 1 of this series, Stephane introduced two temporary network optimization scenarios requiring the deployment of tunnels: a troubleshooting issue and a customer request for increased bandwidth between two sites. In this post, he shows how the troubleshooting situation can be handled using network automation.
Here’s how the troubleshooting scenario I discussed in Part 1 is handled using a prototype. The first piece is to have an online network analysis tool that is aware of the routing (including the existing traffic engineering tunnels), the performance metrics, and the traffic matrix of the network in real time. With this, there is no more need to import the last set of data that may come from multiple sources. Simulations may still be performed manually with the network analysis tool to try to find the best solution. However, thanks to the power of machine learning techniques and algorithms as well as historical data about all the analytics, the tool may be able to propose some solutions that the operator can simulate. The last thing that may be automated is the implementation of the solution: Most routers today support the PCEP protocol that allows traffic engineering tunnels to be instantiated by a PCE to the router.
This automated network optimization use case is not science fiction and can be done today.
Packet Design’s Explorer Suite of online products (Route Explorer, Traffic Explorer, and Performance Explorer) collects and stores analytics from the network (routing, performance, traffic matrix, traffic engineering tunnels, etc.) in real time and is used in many networks. It also provides an analytics and automation platform for delivering SDN applications. The Explorer SDN-TE app, built on this SDN Platform, provides a first level of analysis of the network compared to a particular objective given as an input. The SDN-TE app can provide some solutions to ensure this objective is continually met and can interact with a PCE to provision the tunnels in the network.
One solution to be used as a PCE is Cisco XTC, which is a simple PCE server feature embedded in IOS XR 6.1 and later versions (so it is managed as a regular network node). It can be activated on any existing router running XR, and it can run as a virtual machine anywhere thanks to IOS XRv.
The prototype works as follows:
In Part 3, I will discuss how a customer request for a temporary increase in bandwidth between two sites can be managed.
Stephane Litkowski’s blog series is now available as an e-book. You can download a free copy of the Automating Network Optimization E-Book here: