The Adele Hello Effect: Using real-time analytics to dynamically assure network services

Date: Mon, 11/30/2015 - 18:16 Source: CENX

What does a Grammy award-winning musician’s newest music video and a home security system have in common? When one explodes in popularity, the other might suffer outages, delays and technical faults

The Adele Hello Effect: Using real-time analytics to dynamically assure network services

Marie Fiala Timlin, Marketing Director, CENX, at MEF GEN15, Dallas, Texas


The first music video for Adele’s upcoming album, “25,” was released on October 23rd — and the song, “Hello,” was watched 69,034,918 times on YouTube in its first three days. The first 24 hours alone saw 27.7 million views, making it the most-viewed music video ever. “Hello” was watched in homes, in offices, on WiFi, and on mobile devices using cellular data. Call it the “Adele Hello Effect”: Unlike scheduled events like World Cup soccer, the huge swell in traffic was unexpected, and could easily have overloaded some cellular access points, cloud providers, and even backhaul networks, causing packet drops, connection drops, jitter, delay and, well, a big mess.
Consider what this “Adele Hello Effect” might have on a hypothetical customer who relies upon value-added home video monitoring services provided by his Internet service provider, using DSL, cable, or even over-the-air 4G or LTE. Video captures from cameras could be delayed; connections could time out; buffers could overflow; video resolution could be downgraded due to adaptive real-time streaming. In other words, service delivery could suffer on account of issues from the last mile to the network core and everything in-between.
Note that services aren’t ceasing, neither the delivery of Adele’s music video, nor other traffic such as the home video security system. This isn’t a cable cut. Rather, the service quality is degrading due to a lack of adequate resources over a short period of time,  due to by a large number of events concentrated in some part of the network. Such mass events are hard to spot, let alone predict.  Even when they are spotted, it’s difficult to isolate the root cause and determine exactly what to fix. Sure, the network operator may need to add more resources… but which resources, how many, and where?
Unlike classic red-light fault identification and remediation, these more subtle errors require a different approach, focusing on data gathering across the network, , and then big data analytics to discover, in real time, what’s going wrong. Things get even more complicated when virtualized network functions (VNFs) are introduced in the infrastructure. A leader in this space is CENX, who is working closely with service providers to transform network big data into real-time intelligence for quick operations decision-making. CENX’s dynamic network analytics technology is integral to its Cortx Service Orchestrator software, and provides real-time service monitoring, troubleshooting and recovery.
According to CENX, the goal is to assure reliable service delivery by instrumenting the network using NFV, and gathering a lot of data. Big data analysis not only alerts the service provider of real-time problems with actionable intelligence, but then enables the network operations staff to make immediate decisions about the proper actions along segments of a service path that includes both physical and virtual network functions.
This isn’t pie-in-the-sky theory. CENX is working today on pilot implementations with service providers around the globe, implementing data ingest, big data analytics and service visualization to power actionable intelligence in live networks. These projects meet service providers’ operational and technical goals of migrating to NFV for many network functions, while efficiently managing end-to-end connectivity. In those carriers, VNFs are being deployed throughout the networks, and Cortx Service Orchestrator enables those carriers not only to roll-out new value-added services efficiently, but also to react more quickly to problems.
At this stage in the technology’s evolution, the proper remediation of issues like the “Adele Hello Effect” is determined by the operations staff based on the actionable intelligence. However, CENX and the carriers are working towards the goal of allowing networks to have automatic remediation — including the provisioning of additional resources — in the near future.
What type of remediations? In some cases, the rapid provisioning of parallel circuits or higher-bandwidth circuits to mitigate heavy traffic at a hot spot. In other cases, creating bypasses to route traffic away from hotspots. Another is to add more processing power, such as to spin up additional instances of VNFs to process certain types of data, such as packet filtering or data compression. All of those options are available with Cortx Service Orchestrator. It’s not enough to point out a problem; actionable intelligence offers advice as to how to fix it.
It’s important to realize that service management and assurance solutions need to understand multiple layers in the stack – and be usable by different operations staff, even within the same service provider. In the home security scenario above, the Layer 2/3 connectivity is handled by the Network Operations Center. This ensures that the network connection stays up, and is operating within policy-driven parameters. In other words, our home user still has his Internet.
Meanwhile, there’s Layer 7 application support, in this case for home monitoring via video cameras, detecting failures of video feeds, or detecting events that shouldn’t happen within those video feeds. That’s an entirely different Operations Center, with different teams with different expertise. Degradation of the video security monitoring service may have totally different indications – and remediation processes – than for basic Internet connectivity, especially if data is being gathered not only for this one customer, but for all customers across the entire service provider network who subscribe to that home security service.
This isn’t red light/green light. Big data analytics isn’t required to spot network failures-  that technology already exists.  What has been previously missing is the knowledge of how those failures impact end-to-end services, and what to do about it.  Orchestrated service assurance solutions, like CENX’s Cortx Service Orchestrator provides service providers this vital, real-time intelligence to manage end-to-end services. This is even true in hybrid networks which combine both virtual and physical network functions — and let’s be honest and admit that no matter how attractive NFV is, most carriers will operate hybrid networks for years to come.
The next step to improve carrier competitiveness — and customer satisfaction — is to identify more subtle network connectivity and application problems in real time, determine how to address them, and then allocate resources effectively to solve the problems. That step can only be achieved through network instrumentation with NFV, data gathering, big data analytics, and orchestrated service management and assurance software that delivers actionable intelligence to network operators.


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