No one carrier has network everywhere, so enterprise networks need to be designed across multiple domains to move data from the users in offices around the world to computing, storage, and applications residing in data centers. The need for collaboration and interconnection is driving the innovation and rapid adoption of intelligent automation and software defined networking in next generation networks.
Next week, November 18-22nd, marks the sixth annual MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) Proof of Concept (PoC) Showcase. 15 teams comprised of 46 notable service and technology providers from around the world will gather in Los Angeles, CA to demonstrations next generation networking innovations.
Unitas Global has partnered with Equinix and Blue Planet a division of Ciena to demonstrate the ability of a service provider to deliver orchestrated ultra-resilient services spanning multiple-operator networks with an interconnected SDN and access fabric. We spoke with Tony Thakur, SVP of Connectivity at Unitas Global, to learn more about his team’s AI-Driven Federated Domain Operations for Ultra Resilient Services PoC (proof of concept).
Tony, How did the idea for this PoC with Equinix and Ciena come about?
It was a joint idea. The idea came about through conversations we were having on various network projects. We already all work together. Both Unitas and Equinix are partnering with Ciena to provide global services across the network fabric. Our conversations kept circling around to how to use software intelligence and orchestration, like Blue Planet, to improve services. The MEF19 PoC was the perfect place to put all the pieces together and show how it can work.
What does AI-Driven Federated Domain Operations for Ultra Resilient Services do?
Our proof of concept demonstrates interoperability and end-to-end orchestration between the Unitas and Equinix network fabrics. So, the two important takeaways are first we are delivering an end-to-end service that connects enterprise customers to data center and cloud services.
Secondly and most importantly, we are using intelligence to proactively avoid failure conditions in the network. So, for example, if someone is watching a video across the network and there is an impairment or there’s a failure in the network, the network automatically heals itself and the application that’s in progress is not affected. If you’re watching a training video at your office and there’s a fiber cut on the street, then the video stream gets rerouted on an alternate route to your location on whatever device you’re using.
For our non-tech readers, can you explain “federated domains?”
Simply put, federated domain means there are multiple domains or multiple unique networks. Consider when you make a mobile phone call, let’s say you have AT&T and I have Verizon. The phone rings and we are able to talk over the two different networks because they each interact as a single network, which is what “federated” means.
Why is this PoC important to the market?
It’s important because it demonstrates that in a global hybrid interconnected network if there is a failure or congestion, the network is resilient and the applications (and therefore customers who are using the network) are not impacted. The PoC shows that without this type of federated domain network, applications are not seamless. Services get disrupted. It also shows that there is technology available today to solve for this problem.
How long until Unitas is using NFVs and AI routing in its live network?
Unitas is already using these technologies today in products and tools like its intelligent design and pricing platform CCM (Cloud Connectivity Manager). In the next year, we’ll be leveraging more of these technologies as we balance innovation with quality to ensure the best experience for our managed, connected cloud clients.
NFV means network functions virtualized: it’s a virtualized instance of a function. For example, routing functions or firewalls or SD WAN. Yesterday there was a piece of hardware for each function. Now it’s software-driven. The technology that Unitas is using at the customer premise today, to define the network edge, can optionally be upgraded to support virtual services and future NFV functionality.
What is the MEF and why is it important?
MEF is the global Ethernet standards body that service providers across the globe follow. This is really important because no one provider has network everywhere. MEF provides a practical framework and roadmap for service providers and their vendors to work together. A CenturyLink for example can interconnect their network to another provider like Unitas and deliver a single service from end to end. MEF is enabling service providers to transition from operating as independent network islands to being part of a worldwide business federation of cloud-like networks that support dynamic services across multiple providers.
What are Unitas’ chances of winning at the PoC showcase?
There are a lot of very innovative solutions being showcased. Now I am not impartial, but I feel Ciena, Equinix, and Unitas put together something very unique and valuable to the market. Check back with me on November 20th.
For more information on Blue Planet a division of Ciena, Equinix, Unitas Global’s PoC, visit the Proof of Concept Map.
For more information on the MEF Proof of Concept Showcase, visit the MEF site.