Adva unwraps Ensemble Controller to simplify and automate network operations

Adva added a new SDN controller to its Ensemble portfolio to help service providers simplify their network operations. (Adva)

Adva added a key piece to its SDN and NFV lineup with today's release of its Ensemble Controller.

Adva's controller was built to help cloud and network service providers break up network elements while moving towards a software defined, virtualized architecture that includes universal hardware and open interfaces. The controller allows service providers to bridge gaps between legacy brownfield deployments while building towards truly autonomous networks down the road, according to Adva's Stephan Rettenberger, SVP, marketing and investor relations.

"In terms of industry trends, people are obviously separating the software from the hardware," Rettenberger said in an interview with FierceTelecom. "There is a strong trend and need actually to go to universal hardware that can then be, through software, defined to do specific things. The industry is going away from a purpose built device that is only doing a single function in the network to something that is a universal piece of hardware and the software can then be used to define the function and the capabilities of that in the network.

"Therefore, speed of innovation is higher and the flexibility is, obviously, greater. And another piece that is important here is this Ensemble Controller is the foundation to further automate networks. Current manual operation cannot keep up with the dynamics of the web scale guys and the current mobility environment that we are in."

Ulrich Kohn, director, technical marketing for Adva, said his company's experience with NFV deployments dates back to NFV. In 2016, Adva purchased Overture for $35 million to further boost its NFV capabilities. Adva subsequently created its Ensemble division out of the Overture technologies.  

"So the individual building blocks are out there commercially deployed and they have shown improvement, but not in terms of really getting into bigger volume production," Kohn said. "In terms of letting communications service providers keep track and manage the whole thing, you need to bring that together and I think that's what the controller does. And it removes the roadblock to a larger scale production deployment."

The SDN-based Ensemble Controller is integrated across Adva's NFV portfolio to manage the operation of physical and virtual network infrastructures. Ensemble Controller works in tandem with Adva's Ensemble ConnectGuard Director for managing security, the Ensemble Fiber Plant Manager for rapid failure localization and the Ensemble Sync Director for controlling precise network timing.

Adva also made sure that the controller's SDN interfaces interoperate with both commercial and open-source controllers including Juniper Network’s NorthStar Controller, NEC/Netcracker, Nokia Network Services Platform, Sedona Systems, ONOS, and OpenDaylight.

"So now we have converged network elements and have put management solutions into a single Ensemble Controller, not only managing physical but also virtualized network instances," Kohn said. "This takes a big step toward an automated and even an autonomous network. We are already applying machine learning to some of these things today and we're creating the underlying network for AI.

"There's a big change coming through the industry in terms of disaggregation, and then the need to still have everything under a common control infrastructure that has to be open. I think in that context, in that future framework, the controller is a big step forward that combines the old with the new and brings the openness."

RELATED: Colt selects Adva for new universal CPE platform

Among its service provider customers, Adva is working with both Verizon and Colt Technology Services on universal customer premises equipment deployments.

Adva is active across open source communities including Facebook's TIP and OCP, OIF, the Linux Foundation, ONF and MEF, among others.