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Case Studies

F5 NFV Automation

A major Telco needed to determine the feasibility of implementing end-to-end lifecycle management for their F5 Virtual Network Functions (VNF). So we spun up a lab environment and completed the evaluation process for them.

The Challenge

The telco’s IT team is relatively new and did not have the resources available to perform this validation. They had no internal lab infrastructure, no F5 technical knowledge and no staff able to perform the evaluation. Nonetheless, it was critical to the organisation’s business plan to show that this VNF could be lifecycle managed through the following use cases:

  • Onboarding
  • Building test configurations
  • Auto-healing
  • Auto-scaling
  • Removing test configurations

In order for the proposed solution to be accepted, we needed to verify that this solution would work not only as per the vendor claims, but also as per the client’s specific market requirements. Unfortunately, the client did not have a clear definition of a completed outcome for this evaluation, so there were no hard and fast success metrics. Rather, the customer wanted to approach this in an organic way, providing feedback as the project progressed and ongoing deliverables for us to achieve.

The Aptira Solution

This assignment required not only broad and deep technical knowledge, but also the ability to think on the fly as problems arose or as technical requirements are clarified. Aptira was able to allocate an internal team and spin up a dedicated lab environment to perform this evaluation, thus resolving the customer’s resource constraints. This team was spread between Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and Taiwan.

Due to Aptira’s status as the Cloudify distributor for the Asia-Pacific area, and a deep base of knowledge on the Cloudify Service Orchestration platform, Aptira was able to leverage Cloudify’s framework for this solution.

In order to speed up the process, our team was able to assign tasks amongst themselves to work in parallel:

  • Lab access, environment details
  • VIM configuration and core software installation
  • Orchestration policy development and testing
  • F5 Technical ramp-up and liaison with F5 designated Technical consultant

We worked in consultation with the customer to prepare an architecture design that would not only demonstrate the capabilities of Cloudify but also provide them the required direction for designing their Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) platform for hosting Telco workloads. Following is high level diagram of this architecture utilising Cloudify’s NFV Orchestrator and F5’s NFV Infrastructure:

Aptira NFV Diagram

The work was performed entirely using Aptira’s resources. Most development had previously been completed on the developer’s own infrastructure and integrated into Aptira’s own lab environment for testing and ultimately to demonstrate the results to the customer.

We found that the availability of an F5 technical consultant was a mandatory requirement, primarily due to the complexity of the NFV implementation. The implementation requires both a licensing server and a Virtual Network Functions Manager (VNFM) server to operate and the issue license keys by F5 – all the evaluation keys had expiry dates and the system would not function without the keys. The VNFM for the F5 loadbalancer/firewall was also quite complex and not intuitive, so the availability of a deeply knowledgeable F5 consultant minimised delays.

Jira and Confluence has been used for feature/task tracking and documentation respectively. The team also used both Slack and email for online collaboration, ensuring fast communication and input into the ongoing deliverables.

The Result

Aptira completed the development of the use cases for the F5 loadbalancer/firewall exactly on schedule, under budget, with all required functionality and with no technical issues in any component of the stack.

It is worth highlighting that as we mentioned earlier in this article, the F5 technical consultant should be seen as mandatory in F5 projects in order to enable rapid turn-around (and even anticipation) of questions and issues.

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