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NFV: Closing the loop for automation

Although virtualization does not have any impact from a user perspective, it does have a big impact from a vendor perspective. Indeed, “virtualization is currently front and center of every operator’s thought process”, according to Vikas Arora, CTO of EXFO, who was discussing the topic during an interview.  He goes on to say that the whole point of virtualization is to make networks more agile and smarter while being able to roll out services much faster and to be able to monitor said services.

Furthermore, automation is key in the transformation towards virtualization. As Vikas stated “EXFO fundamentally believes that automation is not just a word on its own, but it links the key pieces of the virtualization transformation”. These five key pieces include: service orchestration (launches the VNF), service assurance, instrumentation validation, service performance monitoring and performance measurement (analytics). “Automation is key” according to Vikas. While EXFO measures performance, it also correlates the inventory in the network to put the performance in perspective of what resources are being deployed. This information is then fed into quality systems, which adapt the policies and feed them back into orchestration—thereby closing the loop.

“Real-time analytics is very critical”, says Vikas. Results of performance should be analyzed in real-time to determine whether the system is performing up to user expectations. So that this can be fed back into orchestration and then back into the network resources being used to deliver the service to, ultimately, refine the policy rules. Thus, as Vikas points out regarding virtualization, it is “very contextual, it has to be in the context of the services being launched, the services being monitored, the services being analyzed again going back into policy rules and the cycle continues.”