Network operators are using NFV to reduce their dependence on single-purpose appliances. They’re taking functions that were previously built into hardware and implementing them in software that runs on industry-standard servers, networks, and storage platforms. Beyond reducing network operators’ dependency on dedicated hardware, NFV enables more programmability in the network and greatly reduces the complexity and time-to-market associated with introducing new services.

A network operator’s infrastructure is composed of multiple technology layers and specialized domains like cloud, metro, access, and core networks.

Service orchestration is the process involved in designing, creating, and delivering end-to-end services.

Creating and deploying services from end to end in this environment is traditionally a very manual process that entails updating multiple vendor- and domain-specific element managers, SDN controllers, or orchestrators—and then integrating these changes with the back-end Operational Support System (OSS). On the surface, this could make the move to NFV complex and inefficient because, to fully orchestrate services from end to end across both the physical and virtual domains, network operators will have to select vendors for each and then engage in a complex process of stitching this all together to create services.

The good news is, there’s another way: Multi-Domain Service Orchestration (MDSO). MDSO sits atop each domain and orchestrates services from end to end. It interfaces with NMSs and/or SDN controllers, the NFV orchestrator, and the data center SDN controller and understands available resources, both physical and virtual, that need to be managed. The result is the successful orchestration of those resources and the delivery of services across a multi-vendor, multi-domain infrastructure.

Through open interfaces and APIs, MDSO serves data up to the BSS/OSS. In addition, TOSCA-based templating technology enables the network operator to program the network themselves—rather than having to utilize large system integrators, their software professional services teams, and the accompanying fees.

MDSO has the following characteristics:

  • Modular and programmable structure supports control of multiple technologically diverse domains: cloud, multi-layer WAN, NFV, IP/MPLS, and more
  • TOSCA-based templates that enable rapid network services programmability and self-service in operating the network
  • Integration with SDN controllers, element/network management systems, and cloud management platforms
  • Support for service chains composed of physical network elements and SDN/NFV-enabled virtual components across multiple domains
  • Standardized and automated service delivery via repeatable, simplified, and auditable processes

In the rush to tear down ancient hardware silos, the industry started building virtualized software solutions that didn’t communicate well with each other. Service orchestration rids the infrastructure of all silos and finally enables a truly open, software-defined, multi-vendor network.