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Empower Zero Touch NFV & SDN with DDI Automation

May 29, 2019 | Written by: EfficientIP | , ,

Two different worlds are merging – ISP and Telcos – bringing requirements for innovative digital transformation projects. As a consequence, deployment of new network foundations and architectures including SDN (Software Defined Network), NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and 5G is now becoming reality. Thanks to ETSI, 5G networks will bring slices for various requirements such as connected devices for IoT, reliable traffic for autonomous vehicles, and high bandwidth to serve new usage of mobiles. Building these 5G slices requires configuration of the virtual layer for all the components, from network connectivity to management and billing. At the same time, enterprise networks are also experiencing the same movement, where virtualization with SDN is bringing more and more service deployment agility.

However, not everything in the garden is rosy. Currently there is a lack of standards for interfacing the SDN and NFV components. These bring extra intricacy to network architecture, and more importantly, an exponential increase in overall complexity of end-to-end management and operation. So to fully deliver true benefits of SDN and NFV, there’s an urgent need to change the way networks and services are managed and orchestrated, with the goal of moving towards zero touch operations – fully automated management through simplification, automation and AI. DDI (DNS, DHCP, IP Address Management) has a major role to play in this.

Control and end-to-end visibility rely on smart IPAM

The main focus of zero touch automation is to remove mundane human interaction from day-to-day tasks associated with the running and management of the network. The concept has been around for many years, but is now back in the spotlight thanks to the introduction of NFV and the vision that it will quickly bring major advantages for CSPs. Unfortunately, at the moment those benefits are not entirely being delivered, meaning service providers are re-examining automation strategies for their transformed networks.

The trend today is to go overlay, combining underlay IP fabric network + VXLAN and other technologies with automation. SDN is used for the overlay and NFV for higher level services like firewalls, load-balancers, NAC and QoS. To effectively reduce the complexity this brings, and to eliminate human errors, you need to automate control over each part of the network. This is reliant on having solid network foundations and, very importantly, accurate visibility over all resources across the landscape.

But with the addition of multiple network layers, this visibility becomes more and more restricted. Encapsulating the IP layers make it extremely challenging for the network administrator to see what is going on inside these layers. In this context, a smart IP Address Management (IPAM) tool – which is one component of an integrated DDI solution – is mandatory. IPAMs such as the one from EfficientIP don’t just provide structured IP Address management for planning and managing routing. They also offer a comprehensive real-time view over distributed DNS and DHCP servers, and your company’s entire IP address space throughout your entire infrastructure.

IP golden records for network consistency

DDI is now more than ever a critical foundation of the network, ensuring successful routing of users to apps and services. So just because SDN is implemented, it does not mean that you can do without DDI functionality! When companies make the move to cloud, introducing SDN and NFV often augments difficulty for managing all IP resources in these hybrid environments. Having a single source of truth via “IP Golden Records” is therefore key. IPAM offers this by providing a central, dynamic repository. Consequently, strong integration between SDN and DDI must be put in place to ensure that DNS-DHCP functionality and the IP plan always remain up-to-date, thus eliminating the risk of DHCP conflicts, duplicate IP addresses, and subnet overlaps, as well as easing the tracking of assets.

DDI automation removes human errors and accelerates service rollout

Complete network automation is never going to be a one-step job, but among the areas which can be automated first is the datacenter, as it is segmented. Any operator would be happy with a dose of automation which brings network reliability benefits and a more robust, reliable network. DDI can be integrated to the orchestration process as a key part of this automation strategy – DDI helps manage overlays, enables workflow delegation, and ensures policy-driven error-free deployments (allowing customer requests to be turned into services in just a matter of minutes). Most mistakes on the network are due to human error. Empowering zero touch with DDI will go a long way towards removing this risk.

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