I’m sure you’ve heard the question, “It is cloud-ready?” Is there any real substance to this question? Or is cloud-ready just another marketing term used by the vendors? At Lumina Networks, we believe there’s substance behind the cloud-ready question and a lot to consider. I’d like to propose a longer form of the same question. In other words: Can your application be deployed and automated as a virtual network function, independent of the underlying infrastructure?

This is a critical question, not only for the optimization of user applications and services, but true cloud-readiness also allows us to evolve or swap-out the underlying infrastructure with minimal disruption of the services – an often over-looked sub-point. So, let’s dissect this heavily loaded question into some basic parts.

Getting Could Ready

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation has a three-part definition for applications that can operate cloud-native.

  1. Containerized – Each part (applications, processes, etc.) is packaged in its own container. This facilitates reproducibility, transparency and resource isolation.
  2. Dynamically orchestrated – Containers are actively scheduled and managed to optimize resource utilization.
  3. Microservices-oriented – Applications are segmented into microservices. This significantly increases the overall agility and maintainability of applications.

An infrastructure built in this way is intrinsically agile and can be scaled on demand. And, in this cloud-native world some of the clear distinctions between cloud applications and networking applications, or virtual network functions (VNFs) disappear. Network elements run like applications and are often deployed on the same compute infrastructure as the applications they serve.

As we consider moving our applications and network functions toward cloud-readiness, there are a myriad of options in terms of surrounding tools and infrastructure to make cloud-readiness possible. In addition, there is a complex maze of support compatibilities and incompatibilities between tools and versions. And all of this is evolving in time to make the task even more daunting. Project and tool names include OpenStack, Kubertetes, Lifecycle Orchestration, ONAP, OSM, just to name a few, and within each of these, there are numerous projects and options. It’s no wonder that the SDN and NFV market is nowhere near the size we thought it would be by now.

There are, however, parts of these architectures where the tools are more mature, stable and can be a sensible choice. This week, at the SDN and NFV World Congress show in the Hauge, we were happy to announce our solution partnership with Cloudify. Lumina and Cloudify can, together, help you start your cloud-ready journey with relatively low complexity and risk. Even better, buying into the platforms that Lumina and Cloudify together support, get you on the road to what will be the eventual open source standards. OpenDaylight, which Lumina uses as its open source platform and ONAP, which is, in part, based on Cloudify’s open source orchestration initiative, include some of the more stable components of a cloud-ready architecture.

At least one tier-one has deployed a joint Lumina and Cloudify solution, with the understanding that this step will lead in the right direction toward their long-term architecture. And there’s more to come. In the next few weeks, we will be publishing more information about practical steps that you can take now to move toward cloud-ready applications.

Cloud-readiness is an important question and the answer can be complex. Good news – there are some low-risk moves you can start today that will get you going in the right direction. Lumina and Cloudify can help.

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