In the past, similar challenges in datacenters were addressed by hyperscalers, who advanced the cloud model with a pool of shared resources over virtual machines on a disaggregated architecture, across low-cost COTS servers. They disaggregated the software from the hardware, and introduced a virtualization layer that allows multiple applications to share the hardware resources and consume them only when needed.
But what does “network cloud” mean exactly? How can we build networks like a cloud?
Asking around will yield multiple answers and definitions, and it’s time to define this term in an accurate manner.
The short definition of Network Cloud:
network cloud (noun)
A disaggregated, distributed, cloud-native, multiservice, multi-vendor, networking-optimized, orchestrated unified infrastructure for any networking function.
The longer definition of Network Cloud:
The network cloud is, first and foremost, a unified infrastructure for any networking function. Namely, it’s a unified infrastructure layer across the entire network that can optimally accommodate any networking function.
Today’s networks are based on proprietary hardware-centric router infrastructure, with dedicated resources that cannot be shared as a pool of network resources, resulting in an inefficient and costly physical infrastructure.
A “network cloud,” on the other hand, brings specific features and values to benefit the whole system as a whole. A successful “network cloud” is:
- Disaggregated: Hardware and software disaggregation is a prerequisite for the network cloud. The network cloud provides an abstraction layer that allows network function software to run on top of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware.
- Distributed: This means grouping a cluster of COTS hardware into a single pool of resources. This is done by the abstraction layer (the hypervisor), allowing the use of smaller and fewer hardware building blocks, easy scaling and multi-level disaggregation. On top of the hardware-software disaggregation, multi-level disaggregation means control-plane and user-plane disaggregation, and even forwarding-function and fabric-function disaggregation.
- Cloud-native: The software environment is such that it allows running containerized network functions distributed over the entire infrastructure.
- Multiservice: The infrastructure supports running multiple instances of network functions on top of the shared pool of resources (the hardware cluster).
- Multi-vendor: The infrastructure supports instances from multiple vendors, and not only from the provider of the network cloud infrastructure.
- Networking-optimized: The underlying hardware infrastructure should be networking-optimized, i.e., based on white boxes with networking-specific ASICs (NPUs). Moreover, the abstraction layer should allocate both compute and networking resources to the upper layer instances. This allows the system to offload networking-intensive tasks to the NPU, accelerating those applications and reducing the overall hardware required for a given network scenario.
- Orchestrated: The entire solution is orchestrated, managed and automated, allowing the operator to plan, provision, manage, troubleshoot and optimize the network more efficiently than it can with its current, monolithic network infrastructure.
The DriveNets Network Cloud:
When you look at the abovementioned merits of the network cloud, it is easy to see its “reflection” in the features and benefits of the DriveNets Network Cloud.
The following diagram illustrates the DriveNets Network Cloud architecture. Indeed, it is a disaggregated, distributed, cloud-native, multiservice, multi-vendor, networking-optimized, orchestrated unified infrastructure for any networking function.
DriveNets Network Cloud solution supports a variety of network-function sizes with the same white box building blocks and can scale from a single-box-based router to the largest router size available in the market, with the same software. This architecture offers the most efficient way to build networks, while significantly reducing the amount of hardware resources required in the network, leading to lower costs, optimal scaling and ease of innovation.
DriveNets Network Cloud simplifies the overall network’s operations, and offers carrier-grade, telco-scale performance at a much lower cost. It streamlines the network’s operational model and enables substantial growth, rapid service innovation and greater service profitability.
Last, to ensure open architecture, DriveNets Network Cloud is ready to run on any network, cloud-certified hardware platform, and is the first to support AT&T’s Distributed Disaggregated Chassis (DDC) architecture, as submitted to the Open Compute Project (OCP).
At the end of the day, DriveNets Network Cloud is the one platform that makes software-based networks possible and real.
Introducing DriveNets Network Cloud