This article was originally published in CIOReview magazine (www.cioreview.com)
Outlined by components such as open source solutions, converged infrastructure, over the top orchestration layer for automation and provisioning, the present day virtualization landscape can be dubbed as a “fast moving container ecosystem”. Meanwhile legacy network and service specific silos are proving to be a major impediment for service providers (SP) operating in a hypercompetitive market today. With no quick fixes to replace the legacy infrastructure with innovative solutions, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and software de ned-networking (SDN) technologies act as a “bridge” to facilitate the smooth migration of legacy systems to a converged infrastructure. “We internally call this infrastructure “Network-as-a-Platform” approach that transforms the network into a “platform” which provides the network services from a single converged infrastructure and supports a step-by- step evolution of clients’ technology,” delineates Oleg Schapov, CEO and Founder, Brain4Net.
Founded post a successful prototyping in 2015, Cambridge, MA based Brain4Net holds extensive expertise in developing software for network control and virtualization service applications based on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware using SDN and NFV concepts that drive the transition to next generation networks including the 5G paradigm. The firm’s flagship product B4N Service Platform provides comprehensive network orchestration and service delivery for multi- vendor, virtual network infrastructure. The platform leverages SDN and NFV principles to automate service provisioning, simplify network management, and facilitates the smooth shift to modern technologies. Major components of the platform include B4N Orchestrator— Lifecycle Service Orchestration software, B4N Controller and B4N SwitchOS— SDN Controller and high-performance virtual switch respectively, and VNF Manager which is responsible for Virtual Network Functions setup, scaling and lifecycle management. The carrier-grade multifunctional platform uses OpenStack as a Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (VIM) whereas the platform components run in Docker containers. Featuring a singular web interface, the platform has a stand-alone node management option through B4N Orchestrator to overcome OpenStack bottlenecks.
Hypervisor or VM related overheads is a significant technical challenge associated with NFV that affects the performance of multi-tenant functions such as virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE), consequently leading to suboptimal costs-value ratio. Brain4Net utilizes the container technology for vCPE hosting and to resolve the issues related to multi- tenant NFV applications. “Container technologies are the “next generation of virtualization”, so we have widely adopted it and now we expand the concept to offer tailored business solutions to our customers,” asserts Schapov.
Brain4Net’s B4N Service platform allows traffic classification and delivery from an SP’s access network to appropriate virtual network functions (VNFs) in data centers. The firm uses Intel enhancements and their own algorithms to provide a high performance data plane for virtual environments, taking care of low packet processing performance of VNFs on COTS hardware for heavy network functions. With the help of different methods that involve overlay technologies and SDN, the platform enables the SPs to provide per customer services while effectively managing the pool of network services allotted to the customers. The platform also facilitates the creation of dynamic service chains of functions and easily combines with other network services such as L2VPN and L3VPN.
Brain4Net follows a deep-rooted engineering approach to SDN to offer the customers a full set of Metro Ethernet services, traffic engineering, routing based on segment routing principles, and integration with IP/MPLS networks. SDN fabric for NFV environments offered by the firm uses Intel Enhanced Platform Awareness (EPA) components—DPDK, SR-IOV, among others—for a high performance data plane and optimized packet throughput. The company plans to move towards 5G networks by developing products and services that would solve the existent challenges of their clients while efficiently steering them towards the 5G transition.