February 28, 2017

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Active Network SLA Monitoring in VNF Environment

Co-author:Karthikeyan Murugesan

Consider the following post production VNF deployment scenario: a service provider has completed the design, testing and deployment of a network for an enterprise customer. Now, what are the biggest challenges for the enterprise network operator?

  • He must make sure SLA committed for all services are not degraded over time.
  • In case of any SLA degradation, the network operator should be able to –
    • Collect all relevant data,
    • Perform first level data analysis and
    • Submit the same to the service provider for analysis.

For #telcos, the transition from physical network elements to virtual network elements presents a complex challenge

This challenge is with regards to VNF monitoring and troubleshooting. This is a result of the exponential network growth driven by IoT, and next generation mobile technologies.

At HCL, the Network Management and Analytics Centre of Excellence has been instrumental in conceptualizing models, designing tools, and fostering expertise to develop a solution geared for the VNF environment – Active Network SLA Monitoring (ANSM). This solution consists of the following software modules:

  • Test cases grouped according to network services
  • Test automation drivers and traffic generators
  • Test monitoring and analytics module
  • SLA certification module

The software modules of our Active Network SLA Monitoring solution, in a VNF Environment, are described briefly below.

Test cases grouped according to Network Services

In this module, all the sanity, functional and performance test cases are prioritized and marked as contributing to a specific network service. Every test case will be flagged according to its applicability to a given network level Service. For example, any rule based packet drop verification test case is applicable to a firewall functionality. The dev and QA test results are also regrouped by the list of network service levels. The test data is fed into a dashboard template that organizes them with respect to network level services.

Test automation drivers and Traffic Generators

The robotic framework based test automation driver is capable of independently identifying the test cases to be executed for a given network service. The framework automates the identification of test cases relevant for a Network Level Service, test execution and archival of the test reports.

Test Monitoring and Analytics Module

This module consists of an “all in one dashboard” from where the operator can action the following:

  • Initiate test cases
  • Monitor test progress
  • Debug anomalies
  • View and archive reports

 

SLA Certification Module

This module collates all test results and compares them with SLA goals and gives a percentage of compliance for the current network status – indicating if it is healthy, and whether it meets the defined SLA timelines.

  • If the score is above 99%, a green certificate is issued.
  • An amber certificate for 95% to 99%.
  • A red certificate for the compliance score below 95%.

As the SLA is measured before it starts degrading, this solution is a proactive approach to ensure SLA adherence for network services.

HCL’s ANSM proposes the following frequency for SLA Checks:

  1. Hourly SLA Check by VNF Sanity Testing
  2. Daily SLA Check by VNF Functional Testing
  3. Daily SLA Check by VNF Performance Testing

In a nutshell, this blog proposes a solution that proactively monitors SLAs by testing VNFs and ensures uninterrupted service even in a rapidly growing network.