Before today, Cyan had already garnered a reputation for providing the leading multi-vendor carrier SDN orchestrator in the industry. We’re grateful that we’ve been able to support many customers’ efforts to abstract, automate, provision, and manage their multi-vendor networks.
But sometimes we hear from industry contacts that our competitors like to say: “oh, Cyan, that’s just a pretty GUI.” (We take that as a compliment, by the way.)
But as our customers know, Cyan’s Blue Planet is way more than that. Today, Cyan announced Blue Planet support for Cisco ASR and Juniper MX Series platforms, arguably two of the most widely deployed data center and router hardware platforms in the industry. If you’re going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.
Why did we do this?
As mentioned, the Cisco ASR and MX platforms are some of the most widely deployed in the industry, which is reason enough. But beyond that and more important to us, is the fact that customers have been asking us to integrate these platforms into Blue Planet. That says something important to us about the current state of WAN SDN offerings from legacy vendors, specifically that they aren’t capable of providing Blue Planet-like functionality and customers know it.
How did we do this?
There is no “standard” way of interfacing and fully controlling networking equipment, particularly legacy equipment that is already deployed across hundreds of operator networks. Cyan has addressed this legacy network equipment problem by developing Element Adaptors (EAs) or pieces of software that interface to third-party network element using whatever standards-based protocols are available to mediate between those network elements and Blue Planet. Once, integrated through an EA, a vendor’s equipment can be fully managed by Blue Planet. This includes equipment topology discovery, service provisioning, alarm monitoring, SLA monitoring and assurance, service testing as well as inventory management – all the applications that are necessary to operate carrier grade networks.
In the future, our hope is that there will be a standard method of interfacing with southbound network equipment. Perhaps it will be OpenFlow-based, something from OpenDaylight or other, we shall see (and would adopt that standard). But in lieu of that, today, Cyan’s element adaptors utilize NETCONF/YANG, CLI, TL1, SNMP, OpenFlow, and any other standards-based protocol available to talk to network devices.
Why is this integration important?
There are six reasons why this announcement is important to both Cyan and the industry:
1. Abstraction: Cyan’s Blue Planet abstracts the complexity of these proprietary hardware devices and the network underneath, all the while making it easier to provision and deliver services at a higher level. This means, operators are no longer captive to their vendors or need to become experts on each individual device. They can swap out and replace one vendor’s device with another and not worry about training, learning curve, operational procedures, differences in EMSs or any other proprietary management scheme. This liberation allows operators to train and focus on delivering higher-level services, which is what it is all about vs. focusing on hundreds or thousands of lines of CLI code to provision a node.
2. Adding Future Platforms to Blue Planet: Cyan has greatly increased the speed at which we can integrate devices into Blue Planet. A new, innovative multi-stage, template-driven approach to developing these EAs is now in use by our engineering team. This data-driven framework allows EAs to be developed quickly and programmatically – allowing rapid extensions, modification and customization. As mentioned, this flexibility facilities rapid integration of new third-part devices, boot-strapping network-element and service models from commonly available YANG and other modeling languages into Cyan’s portfolio under the Blue Planet framework. Today, Cyan’s has used multiple southbound protocols including CLI, SNMP, TL1, NETCONF, OpenFlow and others to enable the control of a heterogeneous carrier network.
3. Beyond Day One: Blue Planet provides WAY more than just automated service provisioning across a multi-vendor infrastructure. Blue Planet provides a multi-layer, end-to-end view of the service as well as the underlying infrastructure. This includes the ability to provide not just Day One support of a service as it is provisioned, but also Day Two through Day 1000 support of a service throughout it’s lifecycle including:
- Rapid service provisioning and automation
- Device chassis, card and port discovery and visualization
- Service activation testing
- Real-time data and SLA performance metrics such as delay, throughput and jitter
- Complete real-time network and topology intelligence vs. just historical data
- The ability to stich virtual resources to the WAN such as VNFs or VMs (through Planet Orchestrate)
4. “I run a Cisco network/I run a Juniper network”: Cyan has taken a huge step forward in showing that now that doesn’t matter as much. Blue Planet gives the service provider one operating environment and abstracts the complexity. So if service providers felt they were stuck with Cisco operationally, with Blue Planet, they could add Juniper if they liked that platform and there would be no change to the service provisioning or operational procedures.
5. NETCONF/YANG: We used NETCONF to talk to the Juniper platforms and CLI to talk to Cisco platforms. We did use YANG modeling for both. We always use whatever standard interface is available to us on the devices we need to orchestrate. Note that unlike other implementations, Cyan does NOT require us to install a daemon on the device.
6. Ethernet to start: While our implementation of Cisco and Juniper is clearly Ethernet focused to start based on customer request — there’s nothing stopping us (from a technology standpoint) from moving up the stack to IP in the future.
Cyan continues to push the innovation envelope in developing software technology that supports real-world carrier SDN use cases. All of our developments are customer-led, so we know that what we’re working on is relevant in the market. Adding support for Cisco ASR and Juniper MX platforms is a huge step forward for Cyan’s Blue Planet in the global telecom market, but we believe it’s just the beginning to what this modular and open platform can do for our customers. Talk the talk, walk the walk.