Is self-service ubiquitous? Tell that to the state government of New Jersey, where pumping your gas is still against the law. But elsewhere, yes, self-service is one of the cornerstones of digital transformation. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), one of the five essential characteristics of cloud computing is on-demand self-service.
But with your customers now provisioning and scaling computing power, storage, and network services via portals that are devoid of human interaction, how do you manage it? How do you verify what services have been provisioned and monitor how they’re performing based on the service level agreement (SLA)?
With software-defined networking (SDN), it’s easier than ever before. And more complete, because now monitoring and synthetic diagnostic transactions can be used to understand both the health of the WAN and the health of the premise. It’s a new and improved approach to traffic monitoring and service assurance.
Case in point: verifying self-service provisioning in software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) service.
More Accurate Views of On-Premise Traffic Data
Your SD-WAN architecture allows you to deploy virtual network functions (VNFs) in a white box with a universal CPE (uCPE) that provide the newest generation of service assurance. These virtual, distributed service assurance functions can collect traffic data and apply policies beyond your WAN to your customer’s premise.
Not only is it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy service assurance in VNFs at the network edge, but such a system can ingest, process, and report on richer, real-time, packet-level traffic from your core network to customer endpoints. The VNFs can capture session details and long-term packet recording. They aggregate traffic from multiple sources and present real-time views of sessions, conversations, and end-to-end call trace data. They also perform packet analysis and provide network-wide key performance indicators (KPIs). This is a newer, better approach to service assurance with much more accurate views of traffic flow and the customer experience.
Real-Time Traffic Verification Across Networks
This service assurance solution in the SD-WAN must operate at the speed of today’s digital world. That means up to 100 gigabits per second on a given network segment. That’s possible with behind-the-scenes engineering mastery, using techniques like creative data reduction, multi-threading, deduplication, optimization, and stateful inspection.
The insights on service performance and user experience from the correlated analysis of application, network, and service sessions can give you a clear, end-to-end look at each customer’s self-service provisioning. The data from this expanded view of traffic can be a valuable new analytics input to generate actionable intelligence for IT operations, product and service design, sales and marketing, and other areas for customers as well as service providers.
Smarter Data, Higher Automation
There’s a lot of network data from multiple sources out there. But if that data isn’t normalized and correlated in context with the monitored application and service delivery infrastructure, you won’t get real-time, actionable insights. So aside from collecting traffic data, your VNF service assurance solution must be able to organize and contextually analyze traffic and application data.
This type of distributed service assurance approach provides another big benefit: it’s virtual and automated. No more truck rolls. For the first time, operators can remotely understand the health of the WAN and the premise. You can probe, monitor, and run synthetic transactions to measure errors, throughput, and other metrics. Service assurance can be orchestrated remotely for your customers from your data center through a broadband gateway to the Internet traffic and the WAN connection to the MPLS traffic in an SD-WAN service.
So if you’re offering SD-WAN service or other SDN solutions, look into stepping up your service assurance approach. With the rising tide of traffic and the increasingly complex interactions and dependencies between network, application, and storage components, the old ways of monitoring traffic are too cumbersome, complex, and time-consuming.
~Written by Gene Knauer. Gene is a senior content marketing writer who works with technology companies in a variety of B2B marketing communications projects.