The telecommunication industry invests billions of dollars each year in labor and capital expenses in its quest to provide high availability and network reliability in its communication infrastructure.

As networks and applications become more distributed the ability to anticipate service impacting events is essential. Practitioners have a wide set of tools to help assure services but unfortunately some of these tools were developed for networks built to support fixed physical networks, not virtual software enabled networks of the future.

Assuring services in the cloud and 5G standalone network requires a different approach. Assurance functions in this new modern network must be more automated and actively deployed in the network. Visibility of network traffic must be across technology domains and measure data flows from layer 2 through 7. Validation of QoS in a network slice or SDWAN is essential for business-critical applications.

The disaggregation of the network will drive changes in how testing, measurement and service assurance systems will be deployed in the optimization and operations of the network. It is probably obvious at this point that the need for fixed dedicated tap points is becoming less relevant in the cloud infrastructure. Instead, the market is moving towards active testing of the service. A test controller can model the service and identify the key performance metrics required for each type of service. The controller coordinates with virtual test agents to run simulated transactions using synthetic layer 2 to 7 traffic which can then provide the operator with the confidence in both pre- and post-deployment phases.

Active assurance simulates the performance metrics necessary to deliver a consistent service both inside and outside the network control domains of an operator to provide a high degree of confidence on actual data plane traffic performance. This technique is superior to older performance monitoring systems that poll, collect, and infer network performance characteristics. It is also essential to manage and monitor complex services such as network slicing that deliver customized service quality tunnels to individual users and applications.

To find out more on how active assurance is being deployed commercially, implementation procedures, and use cases read our paper on “Assuring service quality in the cloud and 5G era” developed in partnership with Juniper Networks.

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