February 22, 2022

VP Global Operations

Breaking the Ceiling for Better Networks: Our Hands-on Experience (Part 3)

Hands-on experience never ends.  And even though some people may have negative reactions to it, truth is that it brings real benefits to all involved, both in terms of improving a system and of advancing your career.

Breaking the Ceiling for Better Networks: Our Hands-on Experience (Part 3)

A while ago, DriveNets decided to share some of our hands-on experience with our customers, the leading Tier-1 operators around the world.  While marketing focuses mostly on properly presenting a company’s product or solution as the answer to customers’ needs, the truth is that there are always ups and downs everywhere. And to be honest, showcasing some of the “downs” and how we can take them “up” right away is the right way to clear the path ahead towards even more network evolution.

To Learn More Download the White Paper
The Five Operational Benefits
of DriveNets Network Cloud

As a quick recap, in the first two blogs, we shared the following actual examples of DriveNets’ cloud-native deployments:

  1. Addressing multifunction on the spot;
  2. Risk-free operations and optimized maintenance;
  3. Zero-touch provisioning issues;
  4. Reaching capacity;
  5. Speeding up deployments; and
  6. The challenges of new technologies

Are we done yet?  Nope.  Again – hands-on experience never ends.  Let’s keep going.

The Benefits of Zero-Touch Provisioning… Again

In my previous blog posts, I mentioned how, by supporting zero-touch provisioning, our software is able to identify problems in the pre-deployment stage, and as such, the operating system is not blindly loaded onto unsupported or unexpected hardware.

In one instance, a Tier-1 operator, where several DriveNets clusters have been deployed, reported a failure at one of the white boxes used in a cluster.  The Tier-1 engaged in troubleshooting and debugging, involving the white box hardware manufacturer, and they found out that the Solid-State Drives (SSD) endurance was not sufficient to address the network needs, and as such a hardware swap may be necessary.

DriveNets understood that, based on the actual usage, the SDD was drastically affected.  Based on our belief that zero-touch provisioning and high reliability are critical elements for a network success, we updated the software and released a new service pack that changed the way the drive is accessed and how the information is written on it, reducing the unnecessary pressure on the SSD.  Mind you, it’s clear to us that (almost) anyone can do the software and service pack updates. But thanks to our cloud-native software and our agile software methodology, we were able to do it much faster than traditional solutions. In short, we were able to extend the mean time between failures (MTBF) significantly and well beyond the manufacturer original specifications, bringing significant benefits to our customer.  Our “fix” is risk-free, thanks to our distributed containerized software.

Taking Remote to a New Level

One of the main benefits of a disaggregated router model is that not every problem must be fixed on-site. In a recent incident, one of our customers had a firmware issue in the data plane line card (NCP), which was managed through an incumbent vendor’s platform. With this firmware issue, there was a loss of connectivity between the NCP and the incumbent hardware. It could no longer be accessed in-band from the cluster/router, which was managed by the incumbent vendor’s supervisor.

Since DriveNets’ disaggregated router model provides independent console access to any router component, we were able to investigate and repair the issue remotely, without requiring an on-demand, on-site presence. Our team at DriveNets was able to take advantage of the console port of the NCP to access the box and recover the connectivity remotely. With an out-of-band console access to any component, we dramatically shortened the time to restore the NCP, significantly reducing opex.  With an incumbent router model, there would not be an option to do this remotely, and an on-site presence would have been required.

When a Network Issue Becomes a Simple Hiccup

Service providers have to be particularly careful with any issues, failures or malfunctions in their networks. Any of these can potentially jeopardize the whole network operations (remember the Facebook outage?), so service providers are particularly careful with any kind of replacement, support, etc., leading to expensive maintenance windows, as we mentioned in our first blog post in this series.

In one instance, one of our customers experienced a hardware failure in the Network Cloud Fabric (NCF), which needed to be RMA-ed. Thanks to DriveNets’ fully redundant disaggregated router model, the NCF failure had no impact whatsoever on the router functionality and traffic forwarding capacity. In fact, the installation of the new NCF was done while the router was actively in-service, with no packet drops.

With the traditional, hardware-based infrastructure, this easy replacement would not have been possible. In such an occasion, when there is an issue in the fabric or backplane, the entire chassis needs to be replaced, a costly, timely and burdensome process.

So NOW We Are Done?

Not quite… Although in an imaginary, fantasy world, we would love to say that there are never problems in any network (no matter whether hardware or software), the truth is that real life is… well, real.

Even though we have experienced some disbelief on DriveNets’ revolutionary solution, the truth is that DriveNets have proved – over and over again – how disaggregated, cloud-native networks bring considerable benefits to service providers, enabling service providers to leverage cost, flexibility, and scalability by building their networks like cloud.

Download White Paper

The Five Operational Benefits of DriveNets Network Cloud

Read more