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Validating Nokia's IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs

Light Reading
Prime Reading
Light Reading
2/9/2016
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Network operators are facing some of the biggest technology decisions in their history and the choices they make will have a major impact on their future prosperity.

They need to decide which parts of their network architecture should be virtualized (and when) in order to become more efficient, develop new business opportunities and gain competitive advantages, yet without losing functionality or degrading performance.

These New IP-related decisions are made harder by the nature of the virtual network functions (VNFs) under consideration -- they are first-generation products that have no documented deployment track record.

That's why the independent verification of VNFs is so important to network planners and purse string holders: They need to know that any virtualization technology in which they're going to invest resources (time, people and money) is carrier grade -- fit for purpose.

As a result, independent evaluations by trusted and experienced third-party test organizations are absolutely critical to the operators' decision-making processes, as they can expedite the early, important phases of a transformation program.

That's why this test report is so important.

It provides detailed insight into the performance and scalability tests, conducted by independent test lab European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , of a range of virtual routing functions from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) (developed by the IP and Optical division of Alcatel-Lucent, now part of the Finnish giant).

The tests, conducted by a fiercely objective and experienced team, focused on Nokia's Virtualized Service Router (VSR) and Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG), two of the vendor's prime VNFs.

The full details of the test plan, processes and conclusions are laid out in detail in the following pages. The key takeaway, though, is that Nokia has a set of VNFs that not only passed EANTC's exacting tests, but passed with flying colors across a variety of scenarios.

That's noteworthy, as a concern often mentioned by service providers in relation to VNFs is the possibility of a performance trade-off -- that a virtualized deployment will not be able to withstand the challenges associated with real-world traffic loads, node failures or cybersecurity threats, for example. The tests conducted by EANTC at Nokia's facilities will go some way to alleviating such concerns.

In addition -- and this is also important for the whole industry -- EANTC devised new test methods to evaluate vRouter and virtual route reflector (vRR) performance that are documented and repeatable and that will be shared with the relevant standards and specifications bodies.

You can find out more about the evaluation and get the chance to put questions to EANTC and Nokia executives during a live webinar, Evaluating the performance of Nokia Virtualized Service Router (VSR) and Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG), on Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 11:00 a.m. New York/4:00 p.m. London.

So let's get to the report, which is presented over a number of pages but which can be regarded as comprising four sections:

  • An introduction and evaluation overview;
  • Detailed analysis of the tests performed on the Virtualized Service Router - Provider Edge (VSR-PE) element and the key takeaways;
  • Detailed analysis of the tests performed on the Virtualized Service Router - Route Reflector (VSR-RR) element and the key takeaways;
  • Detailed analysis of the tests performed on the Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG) element and the key takeaways.

The report can be viewed in this multi-page online report or downloaded in a single PDF file: To access that PDF, click here.

Here's what you can find in the following pages:

Page 2: Introduction and executive summary (including key takeaways)
Page 3: Nokia VSR and VMG Technology components
Page 4: Virtualized Service Router — Provider Edge (VSR-PE): Test setup
Page 5: VSR-PE: Test results -- Lifecycle management
Page 6: VSR-PE: Test results -- Data plane performance
Page 7: VSR-PE: Redundancy
Page 8: VSR-PE: Denial of service test
Page 9: Virtualized Service Router — Route Reflector (VSR-RR): Test setup
Page 10: VSR-RR: Synthetic Route Reflector scalability
Page 11: VSR-RR: EVPN Route Reflection
Page 12: Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG): Test setup
Page 13: VMG: Lifecycle management
Page 14: VMG: Scalability and performance tests
Page 15: VMG: High availability
Page 16: VMG: Bearer/subscriber scale

— The Light Reading team and Carsten Rossenhövel, managing director, European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) (http://www.eantc.de/), an independent test lab in Berlin. EANTC offers vendor-neutral network test facilities for manufacturers, service providers, and enterprises.

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dwx
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dwx,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2016 | 5:17:16 PM
Re: Is this good for the planet?
The datacenter is no different from any other peak-capacity designed element.  It will be busy during its peak times and idle off peak.  There is functionality built into routers these days to shut off unused ports, ASICs, etc. if you want to during idle periods.   

Broadcom sure, that's an NPU, but once you start throwing NPU functionality into a server, is it really a server anymore?   In the end we'll likely end up with NFV-optimized devices which are pretty much the same as the virtualized firewalls, routers, etc. we've had for years now. The trick is it being commodity hardware like we've seen with white box switches to keep the HW component cost low and the HW being open to run different operating systems on the HW.     

The reality is the power/space requirement today for packet processing on generic x86 is still many times what it is for dedicated hardware.   It will undeniably get better over time, but it hasn't significantly improved in the last several years.  Of course there are some applications where it makes a lot of sense, where you want flexibility in the purpose of the box for lower speed customer functions, CPU-intensive control-plane tasks, etc.    

 

 

 
dlitvine
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dlitvine,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/19/2016 | 4:50:11 PM
Re: Is this good for the planet?
Now start thinking of data center which benefits from stat multiplexing and almost 100% utilization, optimized redundancy scheme etc. Compare it with very common use case of fully redundant router which is forwarding at 10% of its capacity but chewing power like a thirsty horse.


This is where industry going to. Of course there are corner cases where you still need special silicon to get throughput and efficiency. No doubt, but merchant silicon vendors investing heavily in NFV,  this is matter of time when intel/broadcom chip for server and LAN switch will be on par.

 
dwx
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dwx,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/19/2016 | 4:06:57 PM
Re: Is this good for the planet?
.75 is for a whole system, the actual line cards are starting to approach .50.  Of course this isn't for a system with the fans running full speed because they only run full speed during some kind of catastrophic cooling failure.  Of course higher density systems benefit because they only have one set of commons.  

I have a MX80 which is built on a chipset that's 4+ years old at this point but is a 80Gbps full-duplex system.  At full tilt it consumes around 200W of power.  

I have a new Dell R630 server with two 8-core processors, much less powerful than the one they used in their dataplane server.   Running 20G of traffic through the server it uses about 260W of power.  

So in that real world example I have an old MX80 using about 2.5W/Gbps and that includes terminating services, firewall filters, ACLs, etc.    If I tried that on the R630 it wouldn't be able to sustain 20Gbps, and even doing nothing but forwarding traffic it's using 13W/Gbps.  

 
dlitvine
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dlitvine,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/19/2016 | 2:40:45 PM
Re: Is this good for the planet?
Your calculation is incorrect.

1. When vendor is claiming 0.75 watt per Gbps, this is chip efficiency for line cards. It doesn't take into account RP/Fabric/Fan consumption and of course these marketing numbers are using "best" exampe for very high density.
2. Power supply nominal value had nothing to do with real server power consumption.
It can be times lower.

If you look at the minimum Cisco ASR9904 configuration (just one line card and one RP) you will see the consumption of 500-600 watt and 3kwatt power supply required.

Doesnt look much different from your example, right? No matter what marketing numbers are.
dwx
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dwx,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/16/2016 | 11:40:10 AM
Re: Is this good for the planet?
The datapath server using the $4000 CPU is probably using at least a 800W power supply but it's hard to say how much it's drawing.  So if you are looking at W/Gbps, if you use 80Gbps you are looking at maybe 10W/Gbps.  A modern service router like the Cisco ASR9K, ALU 7950, or MX is around .75W/Gbps in its latest iteration.     

One recent slide deck I saw last year from Cisco put the space/power utilized by a x86 setup to be about 15x more than equivilant dedicated hardware and that's probably still accurate. 
mrblobby
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mrblobby,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/12/2016 | 10:45:34 AM
Is this good for the planet?
How do VNFs and their platforms compare to proprietary machinery in terms of watts per Gbps?
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
2/10/2016 | 1:00:38 PM
Deep dive on the webinar
There is an upcoming webinar that's going to get deeper into the tests process and outcomes - anyone can join and ask questions of the presenters -- check out the details at

Evaluating the performance of Nokia Virtualized Service Router (VSR) and Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG)

http://www.lightreading.com/webinar.asp?webinar_id=617

Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 11:00 a.m. New York / 4:00 p.m. London
Helen80
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Helen80,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/10/2016 | 3:46:07 AM
There you go Nokia
It seems the company has some superior virtual network capabilities.
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