By Charlie Ashton
As communications service providers (CSPs) explore architectural choices for virtualizing their network infrastructure, OpenStack has emerged as the leading option for the cloud management software that manages the lifecycle of Virtual Machines (VMs). There are sound business reasons for this selection: OpenStack is an established open-source community project with tens of thousands of contributors worldwide, even though most of them are working on enterprise rather than telecom components, while the availability of multiple OpenStack-based solutions mitigates the risk of vendor lock-in.
During their evaluations of OpenStack-based platforms for telco clouds, CSPs typically focus heavily on four aspects of a platform:
- First, they explore whether the platform effectively streamlines the installation, commissioning, maintenance and upgrades of the cloud, since these are all factors that drive the Total Cost of Ownership for their network infrastructure.
- Second, they analyze the platform’s capability to ensure the level of service uptime that is necessary both to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with their enterprise customers and also to comply with regulations pertaining to critical network services. Failing to meet either of these uptime metrics can result significant impacts to their top-line revenue.
- Third, they investigate the end-to-end security implemented in the platform, looking to ensure the availability of comprehensive security features required to address today’s complex threat landscape as well as support for timely, dynamic updates as new threats emerge.
- Finally, they measure the performance of the platform running a range of applications and services, because this directly influences the number of servers required for their data center and hence their anticipated CAPEX and OPEX spend.
By providing best-in-class functionality in all these areas, the Wind River Titanium Cloud portfolio of OpenStack-based virtualization platforms has emerged as the industry’s leading solution for telco network virtualization.
While we’ve blogged extensively about all aspects of Titanium Cloud since its launch in 2014, a recently-published white paper written by GENBAND and Wind River contributes additional interesting, real-world information to the topic of system-level performance.
To evaluate the performance difference between “vanilla” (i.e. unmodified) OpenStack and an optimized open source solution, two different OpenStack Neutron networking implementations were tested with GENBAND’s Advanced Media Software (AMS) Virtual Network Function (VNF) software. The paper compares the performance of the GENBAND AMS VNF with vanilla OpenStack in one environment and Titanium Cloud in another environment.
The tests analyzed call load, packet loss, CPU utilization and the amount of CPU cycles required for each stage of processing. Metrics were collected in real time by the iMedia component of the GENBAND AMS VNF and displayed in dashboards leveraging the Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs) within the VNF Manager.
Summarizing some of the key results, the vanilla OpenStack environment processed 200 calls while the Titanium Cloud environment handled 3,000 calls, an improvement of 15x achieved with no difference in hardware cost.
The difference in CPU utilization was also significant between the two environments: 12% utilization for the vanilla environment while 60,000 packets were being processed, compared to only 3% utilization for Titanium Cloud while processing 400,000 packets. This frees up significant CPU resources for other, revenue-generating applications and services.
The white paper provides details of several other metrics that were evaluated and analyzed, including the call processing rate, the jitter associated with CPU utilization and the packet loss experienced by the system.
As you’ll see from reading the complete paper, the bottom line is that Titanium Cloud achieved a 15x performance improvement, processing 3,000 calls compared to 200 by vanilla OpenStack, while also delivering better call quality.
As the paper explains, these numbers are important not only because of the pure technical advantages that they enumerate but also because of the resulting business benefits delivered to CSPs. By selecting Titanium Cloud as their network virtualization platform, they can minimize both their CAPEX and their OPEX, while at the same time maximizing their top-line revenue by guaranteeing the level of service uptime that their customers expect. And all while mitigating the risk of vendor lock-in because Titanium Cloud is a 100% open solution compatible with all the relevant open standards, validated through its extensive partner ecosystem.