One of our customers was building a greenfield Network Functions Virtualisation Infrastructure (NFVi) platform on a private Cloud with a full-stack configuration. The NFVi platform needs to be distributed across multiple data centers located in multiple geographic regions, so we helped them build a Virtual Network Function Orchestration (VNFO) layer using Cloudify.
The full-stack configuration includes a Cloud platform / Virtualised Infrastructure Manager (VIM), Orchestration, Software Defined Networking (SDN), and solution-wide alarming and monitoring. The architecture of NFVi platform was based on the guidelines set by ETSI specifications, which define a Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) architecture as a combination of Network Functions Virtualisation Orchestration (NFVO) and Generic Virtual Network Function Manager (G-VNFM) capabilities. Our customer planned to build a NFVO/G-VNFM layer across the whole platform to deploy and manage the lifecycle operations of multiple Virtual Network Functions (VNFs).
Since Aptira are Cloudify’s service and product partners in the APAC region, the customer engaged with Aptira directly to build the NFVO layer which involves engaging with vendors of different components within the NFVi stack.
The Aptira Solution
We designed and developed an Orchestration layer using Cloudify since it aligns with ETSI MANO reference architecture. To orchestrate complex VNF workloads, the following design factors were taken into consideration when building the layer:
- Service Modelling
The VNF workloads are designed using Cloudify’s Service designer tool that generates the TOSCA templates to define building blocks of a Cloud workload such as Compute, Network, Database and others. The templates generated by the designer tool are stored as blueprints in the Cloudify Service Catalog.
- Integration with VIM
The customer was planning to orchestrate VNF workloads across multiple OpenStack based VIM platforms such as Mirantis, Red Hat and Ericsson. Cloudify was integrated with these platforms using its in-built plugin mechanism. For VIM platforms that support proprietary OpenStack APIs such as Ericsson, a feasibility assessment of its APIs was comso that plugins can be developed for integration.
- Integration with 3rd party V-NFM
Most of the VNF vendors provide a VNF Manager (VNFM) to manage the lifecycle of the VNFs. Since Cloudify acts as a Generic-VNFM it was integrated with the vendor’s VFNM using interfaces such as REST API/ Netconf.
- Scalable deployment model
Since the VNF workloads to be deployed span across multiple different regions and data centers, a stable and reliable Cloudify deployment model was proposed to handle the scale of the VNF deployments.
A hierarchical model was proposed that can orchestrate workloads across regions without much dependency on customer’s environment parameters such as WAN latency.
- Managing Lifecycle of VNFs
The customer also had VNFs that did not have a VNFM offered by the vendor. In such cases Cloudify was integrated with VNFs that support a different set of interfaces such as Netconf/YANG using its in-built plugin mechanism. This also handled the operational aspects of the VNF by performing Scale-out and Scale-in.
Considering the complexity of the NFVI platform being built, Aptira drafted a solution design to satisfy all the key architecture reference points that customer had envisioned in their overall solution architecture. Under the guidance of the customer’s internal architecture team and the expertise of Aptira and Cloudify, a detailed component level solution design was proposed and integrated into the customer’s detailed solution architecture document.
To demonstrate all the factors and adherence to the customer’s envisioned reference architecture, Aptira in collaboration with the vendor teams designed a use case using an enterprise VNF.
Since the customer was still in the initial stages of setting up their infrastructure in data centers, we demonstrated the use case by setting up the environment in their lab, mimicking their expected environment. This exercise was executed in an agile fashion, with each key design consideration demonstrated. The implementation team was primarily driven by Aptira and comprised of our engineers, Cloudify experts and executed under the guidance of the customer’s architecture team.
This engagement resulted in Aptira proposing a scalable design architecture and successful demonstration of most of orchestration related requirements in their own lab.
Since the orchestration layer acts as a primary integration point, a detailed solution architecture was a critical element in project governance that enabled customer’s architecture and onboarding team to discuss the Virtual Network Function Orchestration solution with their prospective tenants to onboard and migrate their workloads.
The client is now equipped with a detailed solution architecture for their greenfield NFVi environment which can now easily be distributed and managed across multiple data centers in multiple geographic regions.