Openet believes it is incredibly important to distinguish between these levels to truly understand what a vendor is offering. These levels can be seen as a migratory path to full virtualization for the carrier but all vendors should be capable of delivering on each in a cloud based world.
The first level is what we refer to as Cloud Aware. Cloud Aware is simply where the vendor software can operate in a virtual machine. Coupled with virtual IP addresses, a service can be migrated from one physical node to another with simple procedures under the control of the operations people in charge of a deployment. Openet deployed systems that are Cloud Aware going back to 2006 and carriers achieved productivity increases with these systems.
The second level is Cloud Ready. Building on top of the straightforward virtualized system in Cloud Aware, this level adds capabilities to segment the dynamic data that an application receives/generates during the execution of its function. This is a key capability which is often underplayed. Without the ability to either marshal, shard, replicate or direct requests to the appropriate instance of a service, a system cannot be deployed in a Cloud environment where the system can elastically scale up and down. A simple example is one where my cash balance might reside in a particular data centre. If a carrier choses to add another data centre to add capacity, it is incumbent on the application to be able to scale while providing mechanisms to allow the system to access this dynamic data regardless of the location of the original request. As part of our solution, Openet has incorporated VoltDB as the underpinning technology for OpenetDB. Utilising our partners technology which was architected from the ground up to exist in an elastically scalable environment in addition to our own patented technology for data processing and routing capabilities provides the ability to resolve the dynamic data complexity.
Finally, the third level is Cloud Optimised. Again, building on the previous two levels, this level adds the ability to dynamically scale automatically according to monitored KPIs and thus utilizing compute resources in the Cloud Environment on an truly as-needed basis. Equally as important for consideration is alignment with evolving NFV standards and reference architectures. Under the NFV architecture, the orchestration of the individual VNF’s is controlled by the VNF Manager. This allows seamless configuration and deployment changes across the cloud installation for each individual VNF. Openet provides a VNF Manager within our Configuration and Deployment Manager (CDM) module. It has the ability to operate as the VNF Manager, but we also have a sub-component which implemented NFVI aspect of the NFV reference architecture for managing infrastructure. Internally named the Deployment Server, this component allows automated upgrades of the entire stack underneath the VNF layer, including the operating system and hypervisor across the cloud ecosystem.
In conclusion, the push by carriers towards a true Cloud ecosystem is both exciting and indeed already taking place. Some carriers are further down the road than others, but all are driving a path to get to the third level, and Openet is uniquely placed to help them achieve their goal.