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Validating Nokia's IP Routing & Mobile Gateway VNFs

Introduction and executive summary
In late 2015, Light Reading commissioned EANTC to perform an independent evaluation of a range of Nokia's virtualized routing and gateway functions.

EANTC tested the Virtualized Service Router (VSR) for virtual Provider Edge (VSR-PE) and virtual Route Reflector (VSR-RR) applications. In addition, Nokia's Virtualized Mobile Gateway (VMG) was tested for various applications -- virtual System Architecture Evolution (SAE) Gateways (VMG-SAEGW), specifically Serving Gateway and Packet Data Network Gateway, and virtual Evolved Packet Data Gateway (VMG-ePDG).

EANTC validated performance, scalability and high availability capabilities in realistic test scenarios. Our team developed a detailed, reproducible test plan and executed the tests on site at Nokia's labs in Mountain View, Calif., in December 2015 and January 2016.


As we have all seen during the past few years, one of the main trends in the telecom industry is for vendors to create virtual versions of networking solutions that were formerly sold exclusively as hardware products or appliances. All of the major network equipment manufacturers offer virtual network function (VNF) versions of their product portfolio, responding to demand from their communications service provider (CSP) customers.

At EANTC, two questions guide our current evaluations of VNFs. First, how does a vendor such as Nokia re-architect software originally designed for purpose-built platforms to leverage the potential of NFV and cloud infrastructure while still meeting carrier-grade levels of scalability and resiliency? Second, how ready is a VNF solution in its entirety for real-world deployments that require functionality, performance, high availability and manageability in complex environments?

Such evaluations also provide an opportunity for the advance of test scenarios. In this exciting, fast-moving market, each test project is an opportunity to evolve test methodology beyond established rules: This report documents new test methods for virtual Provider Edge (vPE) and virtual Route Reflector (vRR) performance. EANTC will share the new test methods with the appropriate NFV standards bodies.

Executive summary
The key takeaways from the evaluation are as follows:

  • Nokia's VSR showed superior throughput in large-scale services scenarios using Nokia's virtual forwarding path (vFP) technology. The ability to simultaneously support a large number of Ethernet, IPv4 and IPv6 flows validates the readiness of these VNFs for real world deployments.

  • The VSR showed high throughput and scale even when multiple IP routing/MPLS and VPN services functions were enabled concurrently. High performance and scalability are crucial when deploying VNFs for delivery of business, mobile and residential services. EANTC evaluated how VSR can recover from compute node failures and how VSR can operate reliably during distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks.

  • VSR-RR demonstrated extremely fast route convergence in large-scale, realistic scenarios, enabling new use cases for IPv4 and Ethernet VPN route management.

  • VMG (as SAEGW and ePDG) proved flexible support for large-scale mixed Internet of Things (IoT) and consumer environments. Modular scalability and high performance were demonstrated for number of subscribers, throughput, session attachment rates and WiFi handover.

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    dwx 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 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 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 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 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 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?
    [email protected] 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 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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