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CloudEPN for On-Demand Enterprise Leased Lines

By Zhu Huaqi, Marketing Manager, Enterprise Gateway Domain and Sheng Cheng, Architect, CloudEPN Solution, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Enterprises need replacements for complex, expensive leased lines, and a versatile alternative is now available using cloud technologies, virtualized functions, and automated Operations & Maintenance (O&M). Reliable connectivity between enterprise branches and Application Service Providers is now more important than ever before.

Traditional enterprise networks consist of campuses, branches, and Data Centers (DCs), all of which are interconnected by an enterprise WAN. To ensure the network quality of the WAN, enterprises generally use carrier leased lines provisioned with Multiprotocol Label Switching Virtual Private Networks (MPLS VPNs). However, leased line services are complicated, time consuming to manage, and expensive. In addition, enterprises often establish DCs to run their own critical applications and IT information assets. One result of closed network architectures is the low efficiency of service provisioning.

Cloud for WAN Transformation

Cloud computing technology offers a way to open and transform the enterprise network architecture, with on-demand self-provisioned services; broad network access; dynamic resource pools; quick, flexible scaling; and measurable services. With this technology, the infrastructure provisioning required by enterprise IT applications is more agile. Cloud technology transforms infrastructure provisioning from a static planning process to a dynamic process based on on-demand resource allocation that enable enterprises to better support core services and deal with market competition.

Traditional enterprise WANs do not meet the requirements expected by on-demand cloud services, but enterprises can use cloud technology to implement fast provisioning and on-demand deployment of network services. Enterprises can also use Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies on their WANs. NFV allows enterprises to virtualize a variety of dedicated network devices and run the virtualized devices using general-purpose Virtual Machines (VMs) or container technologies. This network virtualization ensures fast, on-demand service provisioning. SDN manages and configures southbound physical networks to meet the requirements of northbound applications.

Cloud-based Leased Lines

Huawei’s CloudEPN (Enterprise Private Network) solution leverages cloud, NFV, and SDN technologies to provide a versatile alternative to traditional leased lines. The CloudEPN architecture includes layers for network connections, a cloud management platform, and applications.

The network connection layer includes virtualized and physical Customer-Premises Equipment (CPE) and firewalls. These devices support physical interconnection between Network Elements (NEs) on enterprise tenant and DC sides.

The cloud management platform leverages Huawei’s Agile Controller, which provides control and configuration functions for CPE and DC hardware. This system enables E2E cross-overlay and WAN controller orchestration, including control of tenant resources on the enterprise and cloud sides and coordinating CPE and NFV NEs. Tenant and operator control commands are translated for the Agile Controller and then issued to each device.

The application layer provides a unified graphical interface for tenant and carrier administrators, and supports self-service customization of CloudEPN services. To maintain openness, the southbound and northbound interface interconnections between each layer use open protocols such as RESTful and NETCONF.

The CloudEPN solution is available in two versions. The SD-WAN version is a straightforward use of SDN and cloud technology to replace traditional leased lines. The CloudVPN, virtual private network version, offers a more extensive package of Value-Added Services (VASs).

CloudEPN Benefits

Using Huawei’s CloudEPN solution enables fast service deployment, reduced bandwidth costs, versatile link management, and simplified cloud-based O&M. For fast service deployment, enterprises can take advantage of on-demand VASs to handle tasks such as applying for network connections, determining bandwidth adjustment policies, and configuring cloud video or voice conference call resources. Users simply order or reserve the required services on an eCommerce-style service platform, and the system automatically itemizes and delivers the service requirements. The carrier of the service platform can approve the order within 15 minutes and ready the devices for delivery. When the devices arrive, non-technical personnel can connect network cables and power-on the devices. Scanning the devices’ Equipment Serial Numbers (ESNs) with a smartphone or using email-based deployment can then implement automatic registration and cloud-based configuration. In this process, technical personnel do not need to visit the site.

VASs can be distributed or centralized. For example, distributed VASs include NFV services such as virtual firewalls and virtual WAN acceleration that are remotely deployed as required on fat or thin CPEs. In this type of VAS, an integrated architecture of the fat or thin CPE with multiple virtual NFV services replaces the conventional networking approach that requires multiple VAS physical machines. This virtualization greatly improves service provisioning efficiency. In contrast, centralized VASs are deployed in a Point of Presence (PoP) equipment room or centralized carrier DC and serve as telecom cloud services to drive the deployment of NFV services.

CloudEPN can significantly reduce enterprise bandwidth costs by using flexible link binding. The solution assists enterprises in combining links such as 3G/LTE, MPLS leased lines, and xDSL. CloudEPN makes full use of cost-effective Internet links to increase WAN bandwidth and supports the most types of CPE interfaces in the industry. These interfaces include LTE, 3G, DSL, Passive Optical Networking (PON), and hybrid access interfaces.

To further improve versatility, CloudEPN implements application-driven link selection — a capability that helps ensure the performance of key services. Traffic bursts on traditional leased lines sometimes cause congestion that decreases the performance of services such as video conferencing. CloudEPN’s application-based smart traffic scheduling provides differentiated network services to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) for key applications. If a link fails or is unstable, applications using the link can flexibly switch to other links to improve QoS.

One other CloudEPN advantage is cloud-based O&M that greatly simplifies network maintenance. Traditionally, technical personnel must visit a site to set up and maintain leased line services. This requirement has become a burden for enterprises that have many branch offices. CloudEPN provides visualized management of applications and links. Information about devices and applications across the entire network are displayed on a Geographic Information System (GIS) map, so that centralized maintenance technicians can easily see fault locations. This and other tools enable remote network maintenance and management, freeing technical personal from on-site maintenance and greatly reducing maintenance expense.

Huawei’s CloudEPN solution aims to provide agile, on-demand interconnection services for enterprises to meet service innovation requirements. The solution provides cost-effective, value-added connectivity between campuses, branches, and DCs, as well as between third-party public clouds and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) clouds.

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