Ensemble Service Orchestrator

The Ensemble Service Orchestrator is an open, extensible carrier-class NFV service lifecycle management and orchestration system that coordinates virtual resources and physical network elements to create, activate and assure services using one or more virtual network functions. 

ESO uses the OpenStack™ cloud controller – bundled with ESO – to manage the virtual compute environment, including virtual machines, virtual switches and top-of-rack data center switches. For management of the physical wide area network traffic flows, ESO leverages Overture’s Ensemble Network Controller, but it can also be integrated with other third-party network controllers.

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Centralized or Distributed NFV Infrastructure
Designed specifically for the metro service edge, ESO supports the placement of virtual network functions (VNFs) in centralized data centers as well as distributed placement across multiple data centers, central offices, points of presence or customer-located compute platforms.

Support for Any Virtual Network Function
To enable the broadest possible service definitions, ESO is capable of instantiating any arbitrary combination of VNFs from best-of-breed, third-party software vendors. ESO can automatically optimize placement of these VNFs based on pre-defined policies or dynamic conditions such as network congestion or compute performance degradation.

WebUI or Open APIs for Integration into Higher Order Systems
Service providers may initially deploy ESO using its built-in, web-based graphical user interface and standard workflow. They can then transition to a fully automated environment by integrating ESO interfaces into higher level systems using a set of open APIs and customizing the VNF management workflow. 

Orchestration of Connect, Compute and Storage Resources
ESO uses OpenStack cloud controller bundled with the system to manage the virtual compute environment, including virtual machines, Open vSwitches and top-of-rack data center switches.  For steering packet flows from physical network equipment such as Carrier Ethernet access and aggregation switches to and from the VNFs, ESO seamlessly works with Overture’s Ensemble Network Controller (ENC) to control these flows. If ENC is not installed in the network, ESO can be integrated with any third-party network controller to perform this function.

Carrier Class Orchestration
ESO features a full lifecycle event-driven orchestration system. Lifecycle processes are implemented using a BPMN 2.0 compatible workflow engine making it completely field extensible and adaptable to the service provider’s operational processes. Further, NFV lifecycle processes are policy driven via a tightly integrated rules engine. Lifecycle control workflows and tasks can be fully modified at run-time in accordance with operator policies.

Service Intelligence
Ensemble ESO introduces a fundamentally new model for NFV service management and analytics. Service monitoring in the physical network function (PNF) world is vertically integrated so that the network function monitors the application and the infrastructure on which it is running. In the virtual world, the infrastructure is shared, so there is no permanent one-to-one relation between the application and the infrastructure. If each VNF were to adopt the same paradigm as the physical world, this would not scale. Each VNF is redundantly polling the same infrastructure and further introduces security issues where a rogue VNF may bring down the whole shared infrastructure.

Instead ESO’s BI suite decouples the infrastructure and resources from the services and is uses the IETF I2AEX model.  ESO’s BI suite consumes and records information from the orchestration, infrastructure layer and other diverse data sources in discrete, separate data channels. The BI then adopts a dynamic data modeling and correlation framework to correlate these information channels per specific management and application needs. The BI suite is built on a Titan graph database and Cassandra data repository. The BI suite leverages these technologies to provide a powerful framework for management and analytics with a scalable and ultra-resilient data repository.

Management of the Complete NFV Service Lifecycle
ESO has been designed to support the entire lifecycle of a VNF-based service starting with the VNF onboarding to creation of the service through maintenance to the tear down of the service and resource reclamation.

The NFV service lifecycle starts after the virtual network functions are selected and when these VNF properties are described to the ESO system during the onboard stage.  Among the steps in this stage, the VNF is registered in the system’s catalog, its gold software image loaded, and the VNF descriptor, its logical interfaces, resource requirements, configuration scripts and any contextual information regarding the environment in which the VNF operates, is created.

During the design stage, combinations of VNFs are interconnected in graphs (aka service chains) and may be formed into pre-defined templates called “composite VNFs” in order to simplify future deployments. During this stage, VNF-specific configurations and policies are created so that ESO will automatically pre-configure each VNF as part of the initial deployment.

Turn up of a particular instance of a VNF or composite VNF takes place in the deploy stage. This stage is triggered by a service order, and includes the set up of the virtual machine environment as well as the connection, configuration and testing of VNFs and the NFV service.

It is in the operate stage where the business intelligence suite of ESO monitors the health of the VNFs and the overall service alerting the operator should any faults occur. It is also where the scaling and repair of VNFs happens. NFV scaling and repair is automated per rules and policies provided by the VNF vendor and operator.

During the maintain stage, services may be stopped and VNFs removed from service, tested and then restarted.  New versions of the VNFs may also be turned up to enhance the service functionality. Finally, this is where services and VNFs may be uninstalled and decommissioned.

Example NFV Use Cases

While ESO supports any arbitrary combination of VNFs, there are a few specific use cases that Overture has tested and/or deployed under orchestration by ESO.

  • Virtual Enterprise Customer Premises Equipment (vE-CPE).  This use case is focused on replacing the multiple network elements required to deliver a number of managed enterprise services, including managed router, firewall, SBC, VPN, PBX, and application acceleration.
  • Virtual Test Head (vTH) and Virtual Network Probe (vNWP). These use cases involve placing virtual traffic generation and measurement systems at various points in the network to measure and monitor network performance or execute troubleshooting tasks.
  • Virtual IP Multi-media System (vIMS). This use case has the 3GPP defined horizontal services and control layer that enables multimedia applications for a variety of access equipment.
  • Virtual Service Edge (vSE). This is a variation on the vE-CPE in which the VNF host environment is located on the customer premises, in a micro-server based on Intel’s x86 architecture.
Feature Benefit
Open northbound and southbound REST APIs With the ability to integrate into higher-level web-based business applications, OSS/BSS systems, third-party orchestration systems and other domain controllers, ESO can fit into any service provider environment.
Flexible, policy-driven workflow engine
Customize the implementation of any stage of the service lifecycle with the easy-to-use Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN 2.0) that’s built into the system. Workflows are coupled to policies and rules to provide more powerful and easy customization.
VNF agnostic management and orchestration
Combine one or more best-of-breed virtual network functions from independent software vendors to rapidly create new services. Any arbitrary VNF can be on-boarded into ESO.
Dynamic NFV service optimization
Right-size the compute and storage resources, using only the required capacity.  Dynamically scale services up and down as needed based on policy or real-time changes in the network or compute environment.  Automatically respond to outages and other failures by dynamically restoring services on alternative resources.
Control multiple cloud environments 
From a single instance of ESO, the service provider can manage multiple VNF hosting environments.  This allows for centralized control of VNFs located in numerous regional data centers, central offices or customer premises.