About Rhonda Holloway

One of our resident “Business Users,” Rhonda Holloway is responsible for product marketing in the Fujitsu Software Business Unit. With over 20 years in high-tech marketing and technical writing, Rhonda has worked on multiple on-premises and cloud systems management solutions including network software, supply chain management, customer relationship management, enterprise performance management and database management in the original cloud—the mainframe. Rhonda is a member of the global marketing leadership team and a key strategist for our software portfolio. Prior to joining Fujitsu, Rhonda led multiple teams where she managed narrative branding and the customer journey using a mix of acquisition, retention, and cross-sell/up-sell content and tactics. In addition to her professional roles, Rhonda is a third-generation beekeeper, a computer security enthusiast, and an intense advocate for using technology and equipment to help those with neuromuscular diseases. If you are interested in how one non-profit is guiding this mission, please visit http://www.teamgleason.org/.

Virtuora and YANG Models

By Kevin Dunsmore, with Rhonda Holloway

The Virtuora® Product Suite is a collection of software products that makes network management a breeze. A distinct advantage of the Virtuora™ software platform is its use of YANG models. These models are unique in that when someone tweaks a part of the model, the associated REST/RESTCONF is automatically generated upon recompiling. This new data becomes available via the API the moment recompiling is complete.

This ability is unique to Fujitsu. Other SDN platforms use YANG models, but not in the way Virtuora does. Some vendors have built their tools using Java and other programming languages. Whenever they want to change a driver, they must change their internal programming code and make the driver available via northbound APIs. This is extremely tedious and time-consuming, and there’s always the risk of “breaking” something if the code contains errors. On top of this, special code is typically required to “activate” and “delete” nodes, compounding the issue. As a result, many customers complain of long lags in getting new or enhanced support for SDN platforms.

Virtuora fixes this time lag problem through the implementation of YANG models. Here you can simply add or change a­ data element, recompile the model, and the new information instantly becomes available via REST. There’s no pulling apart code written in Java or another programming language  to add or change anything. Combined with OpenDaylight, the CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) is handled in one swift transaction. What takes another platform six months to do, Virtuora can do in one.

Think of YANG as your car’s gasoline. The controller is the engine, providing the power for the entire car to run. Applications are the steering wheel, giving users the control to drive Virtuora in the direction they please. YANG is the gasoline that ties the process together, giving the controller and applications the ability to run together and never out of sync. A small change to the steering well, or a modified engine part won’t affect the car’s ability to drive, because the gasoline will continue to adjust to the changes and keep the car running.

For a good example of how Fujitsu implements YANG models into our products, look at 1FINITY. Each 1FINITY blade has a YANG model, making it easy to include provisioning and management in a network-wide element management function. With YANG already working so well in our 1FINITY solution, we’re excited to include it in Virtuora.

The relationship between different models will need to be maintained. Luckily, Fujitsu has software support contracts that handle any changes made to the model. The underlying platform–OpenDaylight and, eventually, ONOS – handle “activate” and “delete” operations for us. Finally, Fujitsu is in discussions to develop a Software Development Kit (SDK) that would automatically ensure a change in one model is reflected in others.

At Fujitsu, we’re working hard to ensure that our customers have a smooth and productive experience using the Virtuora Product Suite. Our Services Support team is dedicated to working with each customer and handling all changes that need to be made. Our goal is to make the implementation process as quick and painless as possible. Thanks to our use of YANG models, we can make that happen.

The New Network Normal: Service-Oriented, Not Infrastructure-Oriented

Mobile broadband connections will account for almost 70% of the global base by 2020. The new types of services those customers consume will drive a tenfold increase in data traffic by 2019. At this rate, most of the world will be mobile, with “mobile” expectations. The “cloud” has become synonymous with mobility and is matching customers with new products and services more and more. More customers are coming, more services are coming, and more types of services are coming. More, more, more.

Carrier networks must embrace a new normal to support and drive this digital revolution. Unlike the static operating models of the past, a new dynamic system is emerging, and it’s not about the network at all. It’s about the applications that deliver services to paying customers— wherever they are, however they want them. This kind of dynamic network requires intelligence, extreme flexibility, modularity, and scalability. The new normal means creating innovative, differentiated services and combining these with the kind of intensely integrated, highly personalized relationships that enable services to delivered and  billed on-demand.

To be competitive in the new application economy, service providers need to dedicate more budget and resources to service innovation. However, multi-layer/multi-vendor network design necessitates that the lion’s share of any service provider’s budget goes to the network itself. At Fujitsu, we are changing that: we are working with our customers to architect an entirely new system: disaggregated, flattened, and virtual. And it doesn’t require a “scorched earth re-write” or “rip and replace” investment.

The new network normal means a new way of doing business for service providers, and it requires a different way of operating. In the old business model, service providers functioned like vending machine companies. A vending machine offered a pre-set lineup of products, snacks, and a single way to pay, namely your pocket change. Only field technicians could fill vending machines, only field technicians could fix broken machines, and only field technicians could deliver new vending machines to new locations. An entirely different staff collected the money and handled banking. Vending machine companies were forced to wait weeks, or even months, to receive payment for sold goods.

Vending machines in remote areas might not get serviced as often as population-dense areas. Technicians didn’t know which products were the most popular, but they knew which were the least! Plenty of people had dollar bills in their wallet- but no loose change. If the machine was out of stock, customers had to find another.

Companies lost sales because of the limitations of this infrastructure— not because there were no willing customers.

Vending machine companies developed new ways to accept payment, re-negotiated partnerships and delivery routes to refill popular product lines more often, and reorganized the labor force into groups who could fill and service machines simultaneously. In spite of these optimization tactics, much like service providers, vending machine companies were still ultimately reliant on physical devices and physical infrastructure to deliver a static line of products. Otherwise happy customers were required to seek other vendors when their needs were unfulfilled.

But unlike vending machine companies, service providers are not always selling a physical product. Service providers can re-package their products virtually— and it starts with virtualization of the network itself. Applying standard IT virtualization technologies to the service provider network allows administrators to shed the expense and constraints of single-purpose, hardware-based appliances.

Rolling out new services over traditional hardware-based network infrastructure used to take months or even years for service providers to achieve. Many time-consuming steps were required: service design, integration, testing, and provisioning. Virtualization addresses these wide-ranging use cases and more.

Software-defined networking, combined with network function virtualization, creates a single resource to manage and traverse an abstracted and unified fabric. As a result, application developers and network operators don’t have to worry about network connections; the intelligent network does that for them. Imagine seamlessly connecting applications and delivering new services, automatically, at the will of the end user. Virtualization provides this new normal: best-of-breed components that are intelligent, optimized end-to-end, fully utilized, and much less expensive. Budget previously dedicated to network infrastructure can now be released to support new applications and services for whole new categories of customers.

Thanks to readily-available data analytics on trending customer behavior, Network Operators will know exactly which products their customers are willing to buy and what they’re looking for—and they’ll be able to deliver them individually or as part of value-package offerings far beyond the current range of choices. Remote areas can get the same services and level of customer support that those in population-dense areas enjoy. Payment will be possible on-demand or by subscription. Premium convenience services will offer new flexibility for customers—and new revenue streams for providers.

Service providers will be able to differentiate their offerings beyond physical products, including bandwidth, SLAs and price points. Their enterprise customers will get better tools, on-demand provisioning, and tight integration between the carrier network, enterprise network, and cloud builders. Service Provider’s business customers will get on-demand services and always-on mobile connectivity. Other customers will get bundled services or high-bandwidth mobile connectivity only.

Not like a vending machine at all. Even the new ones that accept credit cards. Welcome to the new normal.

The Heart of the Matter: Virtuora Path Computation

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The Virtuora Path Computation application is part of the Fujitsu Virtuora Product Suite for software-defined networking. The product suite is based on a modular architecture designed for simplicity, control, and extreme flexibility.  The suite includes a network controller (Virtuora NC) with supporting applications that deliver services to market faster and more competitively.

The Virtuora Path Computation application is an automated software engine capable of calculating the most optimal path for information being sent from one managed network element to another. It is different from traditional path computation in that it has the computational power to thrive in a multilayer, multivendor, multidomain network, as opposed to residing at the node or switch level.

The Virtuora Path Computation application accommodates three primary use cases:

  • When a network operator is activating or deactivating a service
  • When a working path has failed
  • When a network fault alarm has been activated

The Virtuora NC product performs service activation, restoration, and fault management across multiple layers of the physical network. The Virtuora Path Computation application can accommodate constraints like diversity (node, SRLG, and link) as well as cost (hops and latency). The application  also provides for more sophisticated path computation that can take into account price of services and risk of failure.

For example, Virtuora engages with the IP layer, assesses the capacity on the Ethernet layer and the physical bandwidth at the OTN and WDM layer. From there, it can activate an optimized service with or without constraints, provide a new path when a protected or non-protected path goes down, or route around the fault that triggered the network alarm.

The real power of the Path Computation application is when it’s paired with Service Restoration. Virtuora is capable of restoring network services based on what’s going on in the network currently. If a critical service goes down, Service Restoration invokes the Path Computation application and automatically switches to a protected path, or gracefully reverts to the original path once conditions clear.

Virtuora goes beyond the logical path, taking into account diverse physical routes that aren’t so obvious. It knows, and shows, fiber pairs and fiber bundles that logically appear to be on different wavelengths, but are in fact physically on the same one. Virtuora will not allow operators to create a circuit using the same link.

Using the application is simple. A network operator opens the Virtuora network controller and clicks a button to create a path for a circuit. Using an intuitive questionnaire-type dialog box on the console, the constraints of the circuit are described and entered, quickly returning a result. The outcome is –Z provisioning that is wholly intentional about network configuration, as well as the current and future state of the network.

Every network using Virtuora can take advantage of the Path Computation application. Because the output is a REST call with the best path calculated, separate but integrated systems like the NFV Orchestrator—and proprietary OSS/BSS systems—can use it.

The Virtuora Path Computation application demonstrates the value of disaggregated SDN architecture, modular applications, and an open-source controller. By separating the control functions from the hardware and logically centralizing and managing them, Virtuora customers gain the ability to work across multiple devices, layers, and vendors quickly, efficiently, reliably, and best of all—automatically. Get started building your network for the connected world using the Virtuora Path Computation application. #fujitsu #humancentricinnovation

*** Special thanks for Anuj Dutia for providing subject matter expertise for this blog post.

From Static Hardware to Dynamic Software: Building Better Networks for the Connected World

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One of the most popular statistics cited for technology diffusion and the associated hyper-accelerated increase in technology adoption is the so-called “Angry Birds” Internet meme. The premise is this: it took the telephone 75 years to get to 50 million users, but it took the Angry Birds gaming application 35 days. A quick google fact check shows these stats to be a bit squishy, but the conclusion is the same. The technology is here, and the time is now. Angry Birds: Space was able to get to 50 million users in 35 days because the network was in place to support widespread adoption of the application.

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This rate of uptake and its incremental revenue can only be achieved with a network and supporting software that is ready to exploit it, and users who are hungry for the service. Your customers have the appetite to consume services at Angry-Bird speed. Right now. Don’t you want a bigger piece of that pie?

These global networking trends are driving the network evolution:

  • Mobility, including digital business, the enabled consumer, and the distributed workforce
  • Social media (YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp)
  • Cloud commerce (online shopping and auctions, the application economy, the sharing economy, and streaming entertainment)
  • Big data and its monetization—social media monetizes the information and network-usage patterns, analytics, better interaction, more interaction
  • Internet of Things (IOT)

The typical network and its supporting operations requires weeks or months to roll out new revenue-generating services, as opposed to cloud providers, who can turn up new services instantly. These cloud builders are dynamic and capable of delivering single-purpose services that fulfill a timely need or trend. Service providers need innovation, now more than ever, to get into that game. We must transition from our traditional static operating model to on-demand, automated, and programmable networks. And this transition demands a new way of thinking about carrier networks.

To get there, you need an open, adaptable, programmable network.

By “open,” we mean open-open. Publishing a Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) to a vendor-proprietary system and calling that “open” isn’t what we mean. When we say “open,” we are referring to interoperable systems that are built on open-source technologies. We mean vendors that will bring you more innovative technologies, with inherently complementary services and appliances. Open-source simplifies things—and avoids vendor lock-in.

An “adaptable network” has reduced operations and management complexity, improved service creation and activation times, and is nimble. Spend your precious resources developing a conscious network that is capable of self-optimizing. When you see this, make that change. Quickly. Without rolling a truck.

When we talk about network programmability, we are referring to more than simple provisioning. We are describing the kind of network intelligence that facilitates zero-touch provisioning, resilience, and fault management. This kind of network intelligence will allow us to create a service-driven network that we can do different, exciting things with—things unimaginable only a few short years ago.

The network you have today can do this, but it must evolve.

  • Open up your network. Partner with multiple suppliers and build new NEs, defining the services you want to deliver along the way. No excess, no functionality that you don’t need. No wasted resources or capital expense.
  • Start thinking about disaggregating the hardware: big iron routers, packet shelves, form factors, software, lambda, transport, switching, and access. Pull that hardware out of the static chassis. Going forward, only buy network elements that you use and pay for, and use software to manage and program it.
  • Get comfortable with the idea of using centralized software that has a global view of the network; automatically allocate resources where they are needed and when they are needed, dynamically optimizing network performance in real time.
  • Be creative about what kind of services and products a virtualized datacenter can deliver.
  • Above all—put your customers first. Don’t start with the premise that you can only do what the network will allow you to do; think about the services consumers are clamoring for, then find a way to deliver that.

At Fujitsu, we think about Human-centric innovation all the time. We see that consumer expectations are changing and increasing, and we are responding with networks that are more aware, more adaptive, and more agile. We believe the network must transform to meet its customers’ needs. We are committed to quickly and effectively connecting people to the experiences they seek by facilitating access to content and information, not just the underlying technology.

It’s a very exciting time at Fujitsu. In the coming weeks, please visit us here to see how this vision is playing out… we’re also interested in your feedback. DM us on Twitter @FujitsuFNC, or email us on LinkedIn.

Author’s Note: Special thanks goes to fellow author and principal solutions architect Bill Beesley, who provided most of the technical perspective for this blog post in his presentation at our Fujitsu Solution Days demo events in November 2014 and 2015.