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Architecture for Next Generation Digital Service Providers | @CloudExpo #NFV #Microservices #DigitalTransformation
Telcos embarking on a journey to adopt and exploit the NFV trend face a big challenge of existing legacy complexity

NFV Microservices - Architecture for Next Generation Digital Service Providers
By Neil McEvoy

Telcos embarking on a journey to adopt and exploit the NFV trend face a big challenge of existing legacy complexity, and a key message I have been marketing is that there already are best practices that can be reused from the Enterprise sector, especially from leading ‘digital natives' like Netflix and Linkedin.

NTT Communications is a great example of this, employing the same ‘toolchain' of DevOps apps like Github, Ansible, Docker and Jenkins to do exactly that, better automate their own operations practices such as distributing NMS updates across multiple global data centers.

The other key ingredient of the Cloud Native formula is ‘microservices', the approach to Cloud-centric software engineering pioneered by Netflix, that is the architecture equivalent of ‘eating an elephant in small bite size chunks'.

Trying to move the whole elephant around is one of the primary challenges enterprises face in the Cloud era and so this is a logical solution, one that would enable Telcos to enjoy the same business benefits: Faster digital service innovation.

Best Practices - From Monolith to Microservices
As well as Netflix there are other great case studies that offer rich insights into how to approach this field, especially about the heart of the challenge: Legacy transformation.

Writing new software as microservices is a relatively simple challenge, but if you're faced with an existing elephant it presents challenges as painful as if you're taking those bites size chunks while the poor thing is still alive.

Therefore case studies that offer this ‘recipe', how to modernize an existing, monolith application offer the most valuable insights.

For example in this presentation Linkedin describe their approach for exactly this scenario - From a Monolith to Microservices + REST:

This describes:

  • A legacy estate of Java, Servlets, JSP and Oracle databases.
  • A need to support fast release iterations as far back as 2010, which ran into the core challenges associated with monolith software: Test failures, rollback difficulties and complex orchestration and dependencies between services.
  • So they broke apart the codebase, adopted Continuous Delivery practices and devolved controls, implementing a decentralized code base.
  • The use of Java RPC meant a proliferation of APIs made backwards compatibility a big problem, a situation they addressed by moving to, a REST + JSON framework, key components from the Netflix suite - Apache Zookeeper for dynamic service discovery, and DECO for URN resolution to explore data graphs.

This combination formed their particular ‘Microservices Recipe', and when you consider the role social graphs play across the Linkedin environment, how our business contacts are inter-connected and we dynamically explore our way through them, you can see how it would be an ideal design for this type of web site.

Others offer very practical permutations. For example in this article Flickr describe how you can utilize Github to operate a ‘Microservices Store'.

"Some of the products that we work with at Yahoo have a very granular architecture with hundreds of micro-services working together. For scenarios like this, it's convenient to store configurations for all services in a single repository. It greatly reduces the overhead of maintaining multiple repositories. We support this use case by having multiple top-level directories, each holding configurations for one service only."

This is a great idea when you consider Github can provide the foundation for a complete DevOps toolchain, augmented in many ways such as adding apps to support Agile practices.

InfoQ offers a great series of articles on the topic. That poor old monolith, you can migrate it, transform it, decompose it, break it, smash it, or just skip it.

NFV Microservices
The complex legacy OSS software that Telcos operate is just that, software like any other, and so these principles can be applied the same way, with the added dimension of understanding those issues unique to the industry.

Industry expert Tom Nolle explores their application to the Telco world in this blog, highlighting that a simple recipe of a connection model + microservices set would offer a powerful framework for Network-as-a-Service components, like DNS, DHCP, firewalls or VPN client, and Lori McVittie of F5 shares a series of tremendous insights.

In their ECOMP white paper AT&T envisages how they anticipate their use:

"The initial steps of the recipes include a homing and placement task using constraints specified in the requests. ‘Homing and Placement' are micro-services involving orchestration, inventory, and controllers responsible for infrastructure, network, and application. The goal is to allow algorithms to use real-time network data and determine the most efficient use of available infrastructure capacity."

They also highlight how they will interface with the DCAE, their analytics and cloud management platform:

"Analytic applications are developed by various organizations, however, they all run in the DCAE framework and are managed by the DCAE controller. These applications are micro-services developed by a broad community and adhere to ECOMP Framework standards."

The post NFV Microservices – Architecture for Next Generation Digital Service Providers appeared first on CBPN.

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