Taking full advantage of SD-WAN with unified service assurance – Part 2
Assuring service quality: the key to SD-WAN success
In a nutshell, SD-WANs can provide a high level of service quality with a level of flexibility and at a cost that would be difficult to match with a static WAN solution. As new services roll out faster and faster, service assurance has never been more critical. But assuring SD-WAN service quality across hybrid, multi-vendor, multi-domain networks is no small challenge.
A single data service may involve multiple service providers, geographies, bandwidths, virtual and/or physical elements, performance levels, differentiated classes of service, reliability, weather-related outages, or perhaps other events that affect network traffic (like, say, the Olympics’ opening ceremony). The amount of network data involved is huge – ‘big’ barely does it justice.
To assure a SD-WAN effectively, network operations personnel need to be able to visualise, monitor, and manage the entire service, end-to-end, in a unified, holistic way. One might rightly ask: but can’t traditional service assurance solutions do all that? The short answer is not completely, says Chris Purdy, CTO at CENX.
Many traditional assurance solutions only assure some of the network domains required to deliver SD-WAN solutions. Many solutions are vendor-specific. Many other solutions are not prepared for SD-WAN because they can’t assure services that use Software-Defined Networking (SDN) or Network Function Virtualised Infrastructure (NFVI) – two primary technology enablers for SD-WAN solutions.
Even “next-generation” assurance solutions are typically piecemeal – they don’t de-silo all the rich network big data available – topology, inventory, fault, performance, utilisation, trouble tickets – and bring it together into a single-pane context for network operations technicians to use in their service operations.
As a result, for many operations technicians today, assuring the quality of a given data service and performing root cause analysis when the service fails, may require swiveling between a range of different applications and interfaces to make best-guess correlations.
Taking full advantage of SD-WAN with unified service assurance
To take full advantage of SD-WAN, service providers need a rich, multi-domain, multi-vendor service assurance solution that connects fault, performance, utilisation, tickets, topology, and inventory – all in a single pane of glass. Unified service assurance enables network operations personnel to monitor and assure QoE in a holistic, customer-aware way, across not only SD-WANs but also the underlying network services and elements that have an impact on SD-WAN service quality.
The good news is that the right unified service assurance solution enables service providers to see how and where problems affect customer experience, not just which device made by a particular vendor is having trouble in a particular part of the network.
That insight drives quick remediation; reducing triage time, handle time, truck rolls, and MTTR – even across intercarrier links. Say there’s heavy congestion along a particular optical link. The operator’s engineers can see, at a glance, which SD-WANs are affected and, as important which customers – and move to reroute the traffic before those customers feel the impact.
There are many reasons to deploy an SD-WAN, and the technology makes good sense for both enterprises and service providers. CFOs will love the ROI; service providers will embrace the new business opportunities SD-WANs enable. To take full advantage of the technology, however, operators will also need unified service assurance solutions that assure the quality of the SD-WAN services they roll out.
The author of this blog is Chris Purdy, CTO at CENX.
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