Networking Function virtualization (NFV) is what most businesses perceive as some of the strongest benefits of “SDN”. The ability to orchestrate and manage virtual network functions saves vast amounts of time, money, and can eliminate lag in delivery to market. NFV or service chaining allows the control of a sequence of events to happen to a flow.

For example a Cloud services provider might offer a Database workflow. This could be a small MySQL instance on Linux, a piece of storage, hidden behind a firewall, which requires access on port 443. The workflow would invoke the deployment of the Linux VM, attach and provision the storage, deploy a virtualised firewall with associated IP addresses, rules, and connections all off a single click.

The customers requirements aren’t just connectivity and who can access the database. They may be complex as If Customer A wants to access the database from internal, pass them through Firewall 1. If any customer wants to access the database from the internet, pass through load balance 1 or 2, firewall 1 or 2, and have the flow monitored by the IDS. Customers that access this database from the Gateway router are actually placed onto an overlay. Isolated, secure, and governed by the Contrail Control node.

The logical isolation of resources allows the multi-tenant data centre to enter a new era. Generally, all tenants use the same physical resources and hardware. These are servers, storage, and network. Now with Contrail and Openstack, all tenants are assigned their own logical resources. These logical resources are all isolated from each other unless specifically allowed. This is controlled by security policies

If you have started to visualise an architecture with Contrail the next step is exciting. You can look to start injecting business intelligence into your network. Think about some cases where you have attempted to meet a bunch of interesting constraints for a customer. Were they achievable or even repeated? Could it be automated and orchestrated into a repeatable workflow? The use of Contrail to take a vast subsection of smaller tasks, mix it in with business intelligence and orchestrate a workflow that will slash IT operation deployment times is of great appeal. The network has become smart once more.

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