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Service chaining
can simplify
network service

Author: Sue Poremba

The Enterprise is accelerating the development and deployment of cloud based virtualized applications in support of business goals.  To meet the need to deliver these applications to users and end devices, network virtualization provides unprecedented flexibility.   By using software defined networking (SDN), network services can be quickly deployed when and where they are needed. This is done through service chaining, which chains these virtual network services or functions, such as virtual firewalls, virtual routers, virtual SD WAN and virtual WAN optimization together. 

Service function chaining connects the different service functions to create an integrated service that allows users to get more benefit from their SDN platforms. Let's take a closer look at how this works in practice.

What is service chaining?

Service chaining is like the express lane on a highway. It automates the deployment of network services so that the traffic flows through the correct set of functions in the correct order, without the need for manual touch during the installation process.  Automating the process reduces the potential for the introduction of fat fingering or other operator errors that can slow deployments.

There are three elements that make up service chaining:

  • Service template—the code used to create the chain
  • Service instance—the virtual images used to execute the service
  • Service policy—the rules defined to determine  how the data traffic moves throughout the network

Once the service chain has been deployed, a single service chain can have subsets of connections to different applications, but the traffic moves from one service application to the next in the chain. This allows for more scalability and agility because there is no limit to the services that can be connected through service chaining.

What is service function chaining?

Service function chaining provides a number of different features. One of the most common service chains is security combined with some form of routing function -- either SD WAN or traditional routing. The service chain provides the mechanism to route packets through different service functions. Service function chaining mimics how traffic flows through different physical network devices, linked together with cables, according to OpenStack.

The primary advantage that service chains offer is the ability to automate provisioning of virtual networks for traffic flow through all the connected services. Service chaining deployments can include any type of locations, ranging from data centers and to edge environments.

By its virtualized nature, SDN allows service chaining and other ways of optimizing network resources for best use. In turn, that helps to decrease traffic congestion throughout the network. The ability to move without obstruction throughout the virtual network leads to another valuable benefit: getting the application to the users faster and more efficiently.

What is automated provisioning?

Automated provisioning allows for the deployment of services without human intervention. All the installation processes are predefined and done automatically.

Traditionally, provisioning was done manually, requiring the expertise of multiple people performing multiple functions—a costly and time-consuming process that could cause the time between the order submission and activation to take weeks. Now, with automated provisioning, the process can be done through a client interface and might be done directly by the person requesting the service.

The efficiency, agility and scalability of network services is vital to the application development process. As such, it is important to select a vendor who is experienced in deploying SDN solutions before signing up for these virtual network services. This will make it easier for you to provision and manage the network resources you need throughout the entire process.

Discover how Verizon can help your organization manage its network resources through Network Orchestration.