Monitoring & Assurance

Assurance Gets Marquee Treatment at MEF16

Has virtualization made test and measurement sexy again?

Among the many proof of concept (PoC) demonstrations at MEF16 were three in which assurance companies were among the headliners: Spirent joined Adtran in a demonstration of user-driven provisioning and assurance of carrier Ethernet services; Accedian teamed with CenturyLink to show how near-real-time monitoring can be added to existing networks; and Viavi helped a group of service providers demonstrate bandwidth on demand.

It wasn't that long ago when, if a test or assurance company participated in a demo, odds were it wouldn't get mentioned. Now assurance (and the test capabilities upon which assurance is built) is becoming so integral, companies providing these capabilities have become marquee partners.

This is certainly the case with next-generation Carrier Ethernet, where providers of those services are developing the concept of network-as-a-service. MEF calls the notion the Third Network. The goal is to give an expanding universe of potential customers access to Carrier Ethernet services, all configurable through SDN and NFV, provided across multiple service providers if necessary, and complete with SLAs and management capabilities. That last part is where assurance specialists come in.

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Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN)'s and Spirent Communications plc 's demonstration showed how users could set up cloud-based 10G Carrier Ethernet (CE) services over SDN-controlled NG-PON2 networks. The two said their approach fully automates the onboarding process, allowing new or upgraded services to be activated within minutes of a customer request.

The demo was based on Adtran's Mosaic Cloud Platform, which integrates open-source SDN control and orchestration layers to SDN-enabled network elements and a service assurance controller. Spirent's Lumos service assurance controller configures virtual test functions for provisioning verification and SLA (service level agreement) monitoring, controlling active TCP, IP and Ethernet tests and managing test result data.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Accedian collaborated to show a set of tools with enhanced monitoring capabilities that can overlay onto existing networks to deliver near-real-time, end-to-end visibility into service and network performance.

These tools cover the service lifecycle, ranging from bandwidth and performance verification at service activation to ongoing monitoring of SLAs with on-demand troubleshooting for fault isolation and repair.

The two companies say their system can monitor and manage performance of services not only on a single network of a single service provider, but of services delivered over complex, multi-carrier partner networks, in keeping with Third Network goals.

Drew Flechsig, Director of Network Policy and Performance at CenturyLink stated: "Accedian has worked closely with us to develop innovative techniques like remote packet capture, sub-second metering, and end-to-end QoS visibility that scale into our growing networks."

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), ECI Telecom Ltd. , Tata Communications Ltd. and Telecom Italia Sparkle teamed with Viavi Solutions Inc. to demonstrate automated delivery of dynamic, bandwidth-on-demand services via an orchestrated multi-carrier, multi-platform solution enabling cloud-based applications and connectivity.

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

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