Virtualized Test and Measurement: On Beyond the Network

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Friday, June 09, 2017 with No comments
Test and measurement isn’t just about networks anymore, stressed Light Reading in its report, “Test & Measurement Meets Virtualization’s Challenges.” As the title suggests, the report focuses on how virtualization is impacting network performance monitoring and assurance, which now must address visibility far beyond the traditional realm of T&M.

“Today's analytics must provide end-to-end visibility on all key dimensions: network, services and subscribers,” Light Reading stressed in an executive summary of the report, adding that T&M vendors are now virtualizing their products to make them more efficient and less expensive, while expanding software functionality beyond what hardware can deliver.

Virtualized T&M is a whole new ballgame, differing greatly from traditional hardware appliance-based solutions, Light Reading noted; such solutions require “core competency in terms of understanding virtual environments, various components for virtualized solutions and new test frameworks” for virtualized environments.

With the majority of communication service providers virtualizing parts of their networks or engaged in proofs of concept projects—driven by the promise of SDN and NFV to enable on-demand apps and services—the need for a new type of T&M is very real. Without tools to address the complexity of managing dynamic, virtualized networks, operators developing and scaling virtualized offerings will inevitably run up against problems with quality of service and user experience.

Operators are therefore looking for ways to “better understand their assets and how everything reacts together,” Light Reading explained.

That’s no easy task, given that “virtualization results in the disaggregation of the network into many more components than make up a virtual service, including physical machines, compute nodes, VMs and VNFs,” Light Reading elaborated. Plus, “virtual service components can change dynamically, making it more difficult to assure the service, as well as track the parts that make up a virtual service at any one time.”

T&M vendors, therefore, must support a wide variety of network configurations as efficiently as possible, ensuring consistent quality and reliability," while meeting the expectation that “virtual testing will offer the same efficiency and reliability as hardware-based testing.”