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T&M Enables, Is Changed By, NFV – Report

Brian Santo
8/24/2016
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The trend toward network functions virtualization (NFV) presents new challenges not only to network operators but also to the vendors those operators rely upon to test, validate and monitor virtualized systems. Just as the move to NFV is transforming operators, it is transforming test and measurement (T&M) vendors, who are similarly virtualizing their own operations.

Test & Measurement for NFV, a new report from Heavy Reading (HR), examines how the T&M industry is responding to the requirements of virtualization and how virtualization is affecting T&M companies. Among the conclusions that HR analysts Danny Dicks and Simon Sherrington draw from their survey of several key T&M vendors is that many Tier 1 and some innovative Tier 2 operators are not waiting for the slowly developing standards for NFV and SDN.

T&M is an intrinsic element in many NFV proof-of-concepts (PoCs), and many vendors are developing virtual test probes and virtualized network functions (VNFs) for testing. Test VNFs often remain innate in the network, used to help with service assurance after networks are spun up.

The HR analysts note "there will be a supply-side change in the future, and vendors' revenue models may change as the NFV revolution progresses."


Want to know more about the latest developments in T&M, service assurance, monitoring, and other test issues? Check out our dedicated test channel here on Light Reading.


For example, some vendors have started providing test-as-a-service (TaaS), and many others have told Light Reading they are beginning to develop such capabilities. Dicks and Sherrington report similar conversations with a number of T&M companies.

Because test has become by necessity an intrinsic element in the development and deployment processes, test vendors have extraordinary visibility into the progress of SDN and NFV. Part of the HR report surveys some of that activity. The conclusion is that many Tier 1s and even some innovative Tier 2s are forging ahead with NFV, though much of the activity is PoCs -- literally hundreds of them -- and trials.

Progress is slow, but steady, with some impedance coming from the slow pace of the development of standards for SDN and NFV.

There has long been overlap from one test discipline to another, Dicks and Sherrington point out, but the trend toward virtualization is blurring lines within the T&M industry. "As the lines dividing service assurance (monitoring) from T&M (for optimization) are blurring, T&M vendors are moving into service assurance, and service assurance vendors are pushing down toward the infrastructure layers," they write.

The analysts reveal discussions with some vendors who welcome this blurring, while others feel there is value in maintaining distinctions, and why any particular vendor might place itself in one camp or the other.

The report also includes overviews of:

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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inkstainedwretch
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inkstainedwretch,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2016 | 1:37:14 PM
Re: squeezed out
Some T&M companies are dedicated to the DevOps model, and others are skeptical that it's even applicable to T&M. The report touches on the subject.

--Brian Santo
brooks7
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brooks7,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2016 | 10:51:08 AM
Re: squeezed out
So my experience operating a SaaS operation with about 1,000 virtual instances (of course the actual number fluxuated) is that you need to build the test probes as part of the instances.  You can't count on them being anywhere in particular or how many there are or how they will link to the T&M environment.  Our NOC registered (and deregistered) instances as part of the instantiation process and the T&M functions that we actually depended on were recorded by the application itself and read/reported to a 3rd party OSS environment.

Between that stuff and the basics available from the servers themselves we were able to debug basically all the problems (or at least isolate them to the problem unit).  

seven

 
jbtombes
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jbtombes,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/25/2016 | 9:54:19 AM
squeezed out
With the move toward DevOps culture, with its iterative sprints and quick releases, it almost seems as if testing - or at least traditional T&M - gets squeezed out. And vendors are trying to squeeze something else in as a replacement.
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