DevOps in Service Chains and 5G Network Slices

February 2017

Your guide to putting that term “DevOps” into practice with automated active testing and monitoring

DevOps is a well-known discipline in enterprises and cloud service providers, but the term has made a fairly new debut on the telecommunications scene. Software has been eating the world for some time now but it’s only just begun to sample the networking world. Consequently, the term, “DevOps” is now being thrown around a lot. It is like the “NFV” of 2017. With the title of this article, you can see that we are obviously guilty of using it too. To validate our use of the term in the title of our new proof of concept, DevOps in Service Chains and 5G Network Slices, we have decided to describe exactly what it means in the context of this PoC and outline its importance to service providers in achieving service agility and ensuring great quality of experience for their customers.  

Netrounds and RIFT.io teamed up with Telenor and Arctos Labs to develop a PoC that features Open Source MANO (OSM) and technology from Cisco. The goal of the PoC is to highlight three crucial findings:

  1. 5G network slice deployments will require different, critical SLAs that must be met depending on the slice’s use case.
  2. Active service testing that is orchestrated and fully automated, and provides DevOps flexibility, will be essential with the rapid rate of change and the increasing complexity of dynamic, virtual network environments. How else will you be able to ensure that network services are delivered correctly the first time to customers after each small update and change is made?
  3. Active monitoring of individual network slices allows for proactive actions and self-healing.

So, how exactly do you use DevOps methodologies and active testing software to ensure your 5G network slices are maintaining the end-to-end service quality demanded of them?

It all starts with design time. When designing your network services, it is important to take testing into consideration. Not just testing in the lab, but testing in the production environment at run time. This initial service activation testing is an essential part of the fulfillment process to ensure that deployment is correct in the real-world environment – tried and tested in the wild. Quality of Service (QoS) and SLA parameters are both entered at time of Network Service Design (NSD) design as well.

With agile, virtual services, it will be a common and frequent occurrence to make small configuration adjustments, VNF updates, or even larger scale changes. For example, a whole service chain could be relocated to a new environment during its lifetime. There will be no time (or $$) to manually test and validate that these small changes will not break anything – the testing must be programmable and automated.  

Having built testing and monitoring into your NSD, you are halfway to this programmable, automated utopian network future. Now you can use OSM and RIFT.io’s RIFT.ware Resource Orchestrator to manage your Network Service and VNF lifecycle, including Netrounds’ active Virtual Test Agents (vTAs), deploy the service chain, and validate successful service deployment. The automated instantiation and validation ensures that those critical SLAs are being met and that you are delivering the end-to-end service quality that your customers expect. 

The beauty in building your active vTAs into the NSD is that you can also tell them to automatically switch over to continuous Network Service (NS) quality monitoring after the service has been successfully instantiated. If any disruptions or SLA thresholds are violated, proactive actions and self-healing can begin – notifying the orchestrator to roll back the service to a working instantiation of the service and restoring the end-to-end service quality to its former glory.      

Below you can see an overview of the MANO and active testing components used in the PoC.

If you would like to see the DevOps in Service Chains and 5G Network Slices PoC demo in action at Mobile World Congress, stop by RIFT.io’s booth in Hall 6, Stand 6J8. 

To schedule a meeting at MWC, please contact Netrounds or RIFT.io. We look forward to seeing you there!