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Why active assurance needs to be part of the service—not the network

Modern networks based on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) present a major shift in the way services are built and managed. Services are no longer static, which is why it is impossible to know how they are being routed through the network.

First, the customer edge is increasingly mobile. Much of the latency- and jitter-sensitive traffic, such as voice or video, is being consumed on wireless devices when and where it is convenient for subscribers. Second, the virtual network is constantly optimizing itself to address network or service issues, such as congestion or equipment failure. Finally, the service itself may move due to data center or network load balancing.

So, what are the implications for communications service providers (CSPs)? Key among them is the fact that it is no longer possible for CSPs to derive service quality metrics from network quality metrics because network architecture no longer reflects service architecture.

To address this issue in the virtual or hybrid network, service assurance tools like active probes are being developed as software virtual network functions (VNFs) and embedded in the service definition, or service chain. This way, end-to-end, real-time service metrics can be derived and monitored for all services, at all times. The data, or key quality indicators (KQIs), can then be made available to multidimensional analytics engines to drive continuous service and network optimization, which ensures the effective management of service level agreements and objects.

For more insights into managing your customers’ quality of experience in virtual or hybrid networks, download our white paper on the critical role of active assurance in the context of SDN and NFV.