IM SDN-Enabled Service Chains - the New Headache for Network Ops?
April 20, 2017

Brian Jackson and Jeremy Rossbach
CA Technologies

At least three times a week, I go for a six-mile run. I used to just try to beat my own personal record, but all that has changed. Thanks to a new mobile app, I can now chart my performance against other local runners – and it’s making me more competitive. The application economy has disrupted my running routine, and I love it!

Software-defined networking (SDN) along with service chaining is another disruption currently being felt in the network operations world. But a disruption in how we manage and operate our networks doesn't have to mean headaches for admins. Modern network performance monitoring can remove operational complexity when we build new software-defined networks on top of legacy infrastructure.

A Service Function Chain (SFC) is an ordered list of network services that are made available in a software-defined network. These network services can include things like NAT, QoS, Firewall, etc.) The ability to quickly provision the services that a user will receive on the network is one of the great benefits of deploying an SDN environment. Assuring that the services are available, performing well, and built correctly are the challenges associated with enabling Service Function Chains.

According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), "Approximately two-thirds of data center SDN Adopters say their network performance monitoring tools do not fully support SDN."

Network monitoring tools need to be able to see all the layers comprising the SFC. What compute nodes are the Virtual Network Functions (VNF) running on? How is the underlay performing? Is the Open vSwitch resource over-consumed?
Network performance monitoring should avoid those headaches by delivering an operational user interface (UI) that incorporates underlay to overlay relationship mapping, SFC visualizations, advanced analytics, and a familiar workflow to manage your legacy and your SDN/NFV environments. Being able to visualize dynamic networking resources and topologies is just the beginning. Organizations also need meaningful metrics to help maximize capacity and performance while providing policy-driven automation.

Shamus McGillicuddy Senior Research Analyst from EMA states: "Organizations need monitoring tools that fully support SDN and legacy environments without adding operational complexity. With Performance Management 3.0 enhanced with Virtual Network Assurance 2.0, CA offers a comprehensive and highly scalable solution for next-generation network management."

Brian Jackson is a Sr. Principal Consultant for Presales at CA Technologies.

Jeremy Rossbach is a Sr. Principal Product Marketing Manager at CA Technologies.

CA Technologies has launched a new network performance monitoring comic series featuring Kip and Gary to bring a little fun and laughter to the everyday challenges network operations teams face with traditional network performance monitoring along with implementing and managing modern network architectures like SDN.

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