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The opening chord to the Star Wars theme composed by John Williams is a B-flat. The music starts with the flutes playing the root note in two different octaves. The piccolo, oboe, clarinets, bassoons — in fact, the whole woodwind section — are also playing the root note. The trumpets play a B-flat chord in the first inversion. By the time the whole orchestra has joined, there are few thirds and fifths in the chord. The decisions that Williams made in this very first chord and the entire score to follow probably took a significant amount of time and effort. It is this imagery that is behind the use of the word orchestration to describe the deployment of network services.

The Need for Orchestration

Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) is a system created by Cisco to automate and simplify network operations. It is in response to the realities of the daily workload of network engineers everywhere. Just as a composer has to assign the right note to the right instrument and make sure that everything works together, network engineers have traditionally been tasked with configuring a host of individual network devices, including any required software or network interfaces. It can be time consuming.

Despite their best efforts and years of experience, network engineers have been outpaced by growing demand for quick deployment of services. One engineer can be easily overwhelmed by a large number of service implementation requests. The answer?  Let the machines do the work.

Automation to the Rescue

The good thing about automation is that it can take the place of many workers struggling to keep up with the workload. Of course, that is also the bad thing about automation. As designers have transferred the intelligence from the experts to the machines, many of the routine tasks no longer require human intervention. That has made many network engineers either move on to another area of technology or get out of the business entirely. Innovation can be disruptive.

A Cisco-sponsored white paper called “Achieving Automation with YANG Modeling Technologies shows the direction the network industry is going. The first line of the paper, written by IDC, summarizes the situation:  “Automation and agility in network operations are currently limited by the installed base of traditional network management tools and techniques.” The solution is the YANG data modelling language.

The idea is to take the complexity out of network deployment. Using service models and device models, NSO takes input from applications or directly from network engineers and uses protocols to communicate with the network elements.

Conscious Decoupling

NSO decouples the network services from the network components. Cisco describes a four-pillar approach to service orchestration that includes: data modeling, service lifecycle management, SLA management, and programmatic configuration of services. In other words, they have thought this thing through. They say that “leading operators are already transforming service delivery times and customer experience” using this approach.

With NSO, network services are no longer defined in the network devices. By establishing service profiles and implementing them through NSO, network operators and applications are able to set up services by simply telling the system what should be set up and letting automation do the rest.

Conclusion

Automation was inevitable in the orchestration of network services. Using the latest technologies, including virtualization and the cloud, network providers can roll out new services in minutes rather than months. And while there’s nothing like the real musical instruments in an orchestra, the orchestration of network services makes perfect sense in an industry that wants to make the best use of sophisticated technologies. And NSO makes them all work together as any good orchestra should.

BayInfotech can be your best resource for your networking programmability and automation. As a Cisco approved Integrator, BayInfotech has completed many automation projects for our loyal and trusted clients and partners. Contact us today to see how BayInfotech’s can help you automate your networking solutions for your business.