To accelerate digital transformation and deliver a higher-quality customer experience, enterprises across multiple industries are attempting to shift to a “virtualized” IT and network environment. In this context, “virtualized” refers to the evolution from a hardware-centric enterprise edge to a software-centric environment. This entails replacing numerous physical network devices and application servers in each location with virtual network functions and application workloads uploaded to a single physical device. Examples include SD-WAN, Virtual Router, Virtual Firewall, Secure Access Service Edge, and others.
Enterprises that make the shift to a virtualized environment are reaping plenty of benefits, including greater operational agility, stronger security, improved reliability, and substantial cost savings
While the benefits of a virtualized enterprise edge infrastructure are many, transitioning from a physical branch environment to a virtualized environment can be a complex endeavor, especially when there are multiple virtual network functions involved from different vendors. Despite their initial enthusiasm many enterprises struggle to get a virtualized infrastructure deployed successfully, while others have delayed projects or cancelled plans altogether.
Based upon Ciena’s experience deploying over five thousand virtual edge appliances worldwide, the following is a list of top five tips to ensure a timely and smooth transition to a virtualized enterprise edge. Ciena subject matter experts will discuss these and other challenges along with recommendations to avoid them, at our speaking session during the ONUG Spring 2022 event.
Tip #1: Virtualization isn’t just loading a bunch of VNF’s onto a device and expecting them to work.
There is a lot of up-front integration work that needs to go into making sure the VNFs can be onboarded easily and interoperate with each other. A successful virtualization deployment takes a lot of planning, technical knowledge, solution testing, deployment logistics, life cycle management and other considerations to successfully transform their enterprise infrastructure
Tip #2: Don’t try to deploy every VNF at the same time.
Ciena recommends that enterprises take a measured, step-by-step approach to virtualization. Begin with the network function most critical to enabling digital transformation, and then add other VNFs. For example, many enterprises start with virtualized SD-WAN, then add a virtual firewall, router or cloud-based security and then continue with virtual application servers. Enterprises can begin the process when physical devices across their locations are due for replacement.
Tip #3: Avoid vendor lock-in.
There are a variety of virtualized edge solution vendors in the market, but many of them typically restrict the customer’s options and ability to make a change if a VNF isn’t working out. Enterprise customers should be able to choose the VNF and virtualized applications that best meets their business needs in a “best of breed” approach. They also should have the flexibility to change VNF vendors when needed.
Tip #4: Choose the right universal premises equipment (uCPE).
If you consolidate numerous physical devices into one hardware platform, you want to make sure that the single device is “carrier-grade”, which means it provides high performance and high availability. In addition to the carrier grade uCPE, be sure it comes with a full stack of software infrastructure for virtualization. It should also include software-based orchestration, which allows large-scale deployments in a highly automated and extremely efficient manner.
Tip #5: Seek a partner with strong systems integration capabilities.
Multi-element, multi-vendor, and disaggregated virtualized technologies require a systems integration process. Within that process, there are many key activities that are critical to a successful deployment. Some key systems integration activities include:
In the shift to a software-centric, virtualized environment, each customer’s journey will be different, and their needs are often unique to them. That’s why enterprises need to seek a partner that has an open, flexible approach to virtualization, along with significant systems integration experience deploying virtualized edge solutions across multiple industries. This allows enterprises to adopt the solution at a pace that suits them, with the confidence that they have chosen a future-proof platform that can be adapted as their requirements evolve. The right partner can help you avoid the complexities of the virtualization journey, “future-proof” your infrastructure and enable you to quickly achieve significant cost savings and return on investment.
View our ONUG Fall Sessions: https://onug.net/fall-2021/