Virtual Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) aims at providing a number of network functions such as routing, security, VPN, NAT, WAN optimization, access control etc. at customer premises by implementing select network functions in software that can run on industry standard servers. Network devices are virtualized using ETSI NFV framework to replace traditional CPEs with lightweight versions, moving common functions and complex traffic handling into POP (points-of-presence) or a centralized Datacenter.
The vCPE solution enables IT to offer multiple services to lines of business that require different physical devices from multiple vendors. The solution delivers huge CapEx and OpEx savings for hundreds of remote locations and accelerates service activation.
The vCPE solution has emerged as the prominent use-case for Network Function Virtualization. Many Service Providers (CSP, MSP), System Integrators and Enterprises (with distributed locations such as Retail Branch offices, ATMs) have adopted vCPE to dynamically adjust the capacity as per the customer demand.
Anuta NCX vCPE Solution
Anuta NCX vCPE solution configures the CPE network functions as required by the enterprise on an x86 server (Branch-in-a box). The CPE functionality can be virtualized on the branch server using virtual appliances for network functions such as Router, NAT, VPN and ZBFW.
On Demand Spinning of Virtual appliances:One of the main challenges of deploying a Virtual CPE solution would be on-demand installation of virtual appliances and their management. With Anuta NCX, orchestrating a multivendor solution in the virtual environment can be done in a few minutes. NCX supports deployments on a host or a cluster with support for multiple Hypervisors. Virtual appliance OVAs can be customized to suit customer requirements.
All virtual devices can be spun at the time of service instantiation using NCX and need not be pre-provisioned for each service rollout.
Centralized Policy change and control:In a distributed network with virtual CPEs, policy change & control can be difficult as virtual appliances and services are loosely tied together. Anuta NCX overcomes the above challenges using a Server-Agent Model wherein the NCX Server sits in the central Datacenter and a thin NCX agent resides on the Branch Server. The NCX Agent VMs monitor the local environment within the branch while the NCX Server VM can deploy granular network wide policy changes affecting some or all branches.
Hybrid Architecture:NCX will provision all the physical network elements that are part of the Network Service along with the virtual appliances that are spun during service instantiation. This gives the administrator flexibility in choosing the appropriate service design. If the service can be deployed on physical devices, it can be deployed using any combination of supported virtual or physical devices using NCX. Enterprises have the flexibility to decide on the appropriate mix of on-device or virtualized capabilities from multiple vendors using NCX.
Service VM Placement:NCX provides the flexibility to choose where the virtual appliances can be provisioned based on different criteria such as affinity between tenant or application VMs and service VMs and HA requirements for the service VMs. It is also possible to deploy certain virtual elements of a service on one host and another set of virtual elements on a different host using NCX.
Virtual Appliance Licensing:Managing the licenses of a huge number of Virtual devices manually is an administrative overhead. Also, it is difficult for the administrator to keep track of new features that are added for each virtual appliance sourced from several vendors. NCX manages licensing for each virtual device instance of a network service for all supported vendor devices. NCX pulls the appropriate licenses from a Central License Server and uses during instantiation of the service. Alternatively, administrator can create a license pool using NCX to manage license manually.
Monitoring Device Performance and Resource Planning:Managing the virtual appliance performance, network health, utilization of resources and resource planning for onboarding new services across the network can be difficult using conventional Virtualization techniques and OSS/BSS methodologies. Anuta NCX vCPE solution will help organizations in installing the virtual appliances on demand, orchestrating new services and managing the physical and virtual infrastructure using NCX Element Manager.
NCX can monitor CPU, memory and other network parameters of each virtual appliance on demand or using a scheduled inventory run. In addition, resource utilization at a service level such as IP address pool exhaustion, VLANs, VRFs etc. can be monitored and resource limits can be enforced by the admin at any time using NCX Virtualized Infrastructure Manager. Using Anuta NCX orchestration suite, entire service chains can be provisioned from a single user interface and the admin has an overall view of the network reducing the chance for inconsistent device configurations.
Patch Management:NCX upgrades and patches can be applied in a non-disruptive manner. Any service deployed and running whether it is physical, virtual or hybrid will not be impacted during an upgrade/patch to NCX. When the upgraded NCX VM comes back online, all service definitions and tenant offerings will remain intact and there is no need to define the services again.
Using Anuta NCX, TCL reduced CPE provisioning time from 60 minutes to 5 minutes.
Read the Case Study