Virtualization is Going Mainstream. This was the title of an article returned by a Google search recently. The dateline was January 1, 2006.
It’s a good reminder that while there is considerable energy, excitement, and momentum in the news today about network function virtualization going mainstream, the concepts themselves are not new. Server virtualization has been mainstream in enterprise IT environments for quite some time.
Admittedly, there are many considerable and important differences between enterprise workloads and virtual network functions (VNFs) that will be used by communication service providers. However some of the operational challenges encountered by IT security and virtualization administrators provide important previews to what awaits service providers.
Network configuration and change management is one such critical area. In another recent interesting article (this one from August 2015), a large enterprise IT team detected big data search performance issues after standing up a cluster of new servers in a production environment. Ultimately, server-specific configuration issues were the root cause.
“Moving into production in a large server environment creates the opportunity for many server-specific configuration issues.”
Now, extend this scenario to a service provider’s environment. This is a reason why operators confirm that up to 60% of their network outages and degradations are caused by configuration errors. Needless to say, ensuring that virtual servers, the VNFs themselves, and all supporting systems are correctly configured, and stay correctly configured, is crucial to assure service delivery and performance.
Cybersecurity, specifically securing access to networks and resources, is increasing in awareness and complexity. A recently released study by Kasperksky Labs concludes that when a security incident involves virtual machines, the recovery costs double compared to that of a traditional environment.
As privileged user accounts have been contributed to virtually every major security breach reported by the media this year management and control of privileged users and credentials is increasing in urgency.
Service provider networks are complex by nature – they span multiple technologies, vendors, geographies, and support millions of end users. Services will extend across wired and mobile networks, and span virtual and physical infrastructure. Assuring that the configurations off all the physical and virtual devices along the service path are correct is vital. Similarly, applying the appropriate privileged identity access management policies and controls in this environment is equally essential.
NFV requires a new approach to network security and configuration change manegement – such as a Secure Network Auditing Platform.
We’re at the stage where overcoming these practical, operational considerations is essential. Join us along with colleagues from Amdocs, Viavi Solutions, Accedian, and others on two upcoming complimentary webinars as we debate some of these topics. Visit our events page to register.