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Case Studies

Introducing a New SDN Controller

Aptira Introducing a new SDN Controller
A Tier 1 Telco has been experiencing ongoing operational issues around network stability, SDN controller version lag and gaps in pre-production testing procedures that have been plaguing their platform. Aptira has provided guidance on possible replacement SDN controller platforms whilst adhering to strict functional and non-functional criteria.

The Challenge

Whilst Software Defined Networking (SDN) is still a relatively new technology in the Telecommunications space, there have been many advances in SDN related projects and technology in the intervening months. Given the ongoing stability issues that this Telco has been facing, this was a good time to look around at the current environment and evaluate any contenders for replacing the components that are currently causing these ongoing issues.

Due to Aptira’s long history in dealing with similar environments, and having a significant amount of internal resources with engineering backgrounds, we were able to propose a new solution which will resolve the ongoing issues.  Recognising the customer’s problem, Aptira proactively moved to assist the customer, by executing the first step: identifying a potential replacement SDN controller.

The Aptira Solution

To begin, Aptira defined both functional and non-functional criteria to drive the analysis.

Functional Criteria:

  • Compatible with Cloudify
  • OpenFlow version 1.3 minimum
  • Non-OpenFlow based Protocol used
  • Compatible with Noviflow
  • API driven interfaces
  • Backing Datastore Software
  • Provides of is compatible with PCE functionality
  • Segment Routing Functionality
  • Telemetry Available

Non-Functional Criteria:

  • Georedundant
  • Fault tolerant failover
  • Fault tolerant southbound API
  • Cluster Type
  • Distributed Datastore CAP Guaranteed Metrics
  • Open Source
  • Development Language
  • Community Size and Type

Based on this criteria, Aptira performed global market research to identify suitable SDNC candidates.  Initially, our list consisted of 12 potential SDN Controllers, which was subsequently cut that back to 6 after our initial investigation.

Aptira’s analysis was based primarily on available specifications, technical documentation, and published research papers.  Our team of expert-level SDN engineers created the evaluation matrix that was used in the analysis and applied the relevant data gained through our research.

The Result

Whilst we believe that any of the platforms we analysed could fill the place of the current platform, the chosen controller will largely depend on the decision which the customer makes towards further developing, operating and maintaining the platform.

Ultimately, for any replacement platforms to be considered viable, they must enable the following outcomes:

  • Interoperability with the other existing components in the platform, particularly the Cloudify platform and Noviflow switch hardware
  • Be in alignment with the Project Requirements
  • Implement, or allow for the implementation of, all existing technical functional requirements provided by the current SDN Controller
  • Remediate the current stability issues occurring with the Platform related to the SDN Controller.

Given the period of time since initial design and implementation, the replacement should additionally provide:

  • A well-supported software base, in line with their organisational goals
  • An updated architecture based on updated industry experience
  • Inclusion of any applicable technology enhancements that have evolved

After our research had concluded, we provided a comprehensive report that included a description of the SDN Controllers  which we evaluated, a detailed comparison of the viable replacements for the SDN controller, as well as recommendations and a plan to assist them with progressing towards an informed decision.

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