Learnings from multi-domain, multi-vendor SD-WAN deployments
Multi-vendor SD-WAN deployments provide options to enterprises and flexibility to service providers. As 5G and edge deployments start rolling out and network slicing becomes a necessity, we expect SD-WAN to evolve into an end-to-end network fabric. Service providers need to ensure a multi-domain orchestration that handles domains ranging from network access, to the backhaul transport, to the enterprise core, to 5G edge and network slices.
This is the second in a series of three blog posts on SD-WAN. In our first post - Why SD-WAN is an orchestration game – we discussed the emerging need for SD-WAN orchestration. In this post, we’ll discuss some real-world lessons from an actual multi-vendor, multi-domain SD-WAN deployment at a major carrier, coupled with observations from ongoing SD-WAN engagements with other tier-one carriers, worldwide. The third post provides an examination of SD-WAN and orchestration: The Ericsson advantage along with our vision.
A real-world example at Verizon
Verizon offers a Virtual Network Services (VNS) product that leverages software controls to provide SD-WAN, routing, WAN optimization, unified communications, as well as security products. Verizon realized relatively early on that SD-WAN should be built as a multi-vendor architecture, as no vendor could cover all network functions on its own and multiple vendors covered the same network function. It laid a universal customer-premises equipment (uCPE) foundation, with a white-box approach, and onboarded several leading software vendors for its SD-WAN and security offerings.
In Verizon’s multi-vendor solution, Ericsson plays the role of the orchestrator and integrates with the management and control systems of each virtual network function (VNF), including SD-WAN. Ericsson Dynamic Orchestration performs rapid VNF onboarding, and provisions VNFs as needed dynamically. The solution can also seamlessly orchestrate across multiple domains, bringing on mobile 4G and 5G networks as needed, as well as tying transport networks in if necessary.
Verizon also focused on building a closed-loop assurance model that leverages automation built into the Ericsson platform. As technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are brought into the ecosystem, Verizon’s solution will move towards an intelligent, self-healing one that ensures a seamless customer experience tolerant of hardware faults or VNF failures.
Through the scale deployment with Ericsson Dynamic Orchestration at Verizon, as well as lessons learned from other service providers, we suggest considering taking the 5 steps below to support shaping a way forward:
- Take a model-driven approach to ensure better scalability, maintainability and vendor flexibility. Ensure that the orchestration solution selected can accommodate different vendors through a flexible architecture that supports different object models and APIs for integration.
- Incorporate and push for open standards from vendors. Track ongoing efforts by the Linux Foundation, ETSI, TMForum, and MEF in terms of their efforts around management and orchestration, and particularly the management of SD-WAN.
- Recognize that there’s a need to introduce an additional layer of orchestration above the SD-WAN management and control layer. This layer is what integrates with the OSS and BSS layers above, and with vendors below.
- Define an orchestration strategy that accommodates both hardware and software platforms and integrates with an NFV infrastructure that supports OpenStack-based, Container-based or bare-metal applications.
- Build a closed-loop automation that continually monitors the health of the overall system, across multiple service domains. Check with the orchestration solution on their AI/ML roadmap and how they envision using such technology to create a better customer experience.
Let us help you!
Given the lessons learned we’ve described above, we’d love to share our solution in more detail and explain how we bring those benefits to you. Stay tuned for our next post as we dig into actionable steps you can take to have us assist you in building your multi-domain, multi-vendor SD-WAN platform!Download the e-brief
Take the opportunity to read our first blog about Why SD-WAN is an orchestration game.
Learn about the importance of automation in the blog post Network operations and automation: What’s the latest?.
Find out more about Verizon deployment by reading Orchestrating enterprise virtual networks.