Nokia’s new super-fast chip got all the love at the company’s swanky unveiling event in San Francisco this week. The company said its FP4 silicon-based routers will power the IP networks of the future. But reaching the target — fully automated networking — requires powerful software.

“These routers will provide a high-performance network platform, which – when combined with Nokia’s Deepfield big-data analytics and automation with our SDN [software-defined networking] solutions – will deliver to the vision of insight-driven automated networking,” wrote Nokia VP Manish Gulyani on a Nokia blog the day after the event.

Nokia’s not there yet. “We’re in the process,” of automated networking, said Steve Vogelsang, CTO for Nokia’s IP and optical business. The company’s software innovations will move networks closer to self-driving status, he said.

“We have the SDN control layer so we can drive changes into the network, but now there are still human beings on top of that,” Vogelsang said. “We haven’t connected it to the analytics. The first step is to get better at the analytics.”

Security automation will likely happen quicker than overall network automation. This is where Deepfield’s technology fits in by automating the process of looking for anomalies. “In DDoS [distributed denial of service] you don’t have time for a human to interact and that’s why we’ve spent a lot of money with Deepfield, making sure we minimize false positives,” Vogelsang said.

Deepfield

Nokia acquired Deepfield earlier this year. The analytics software startup mapped billions of IP addresses, with the insight put into a database called Cloud Genome. It also collects network telemetry from routers.

This information can be used to provide network insights and prevent DDoS attacks.

“We patented technology that goes out and actually builds maps of the entire Internet at scale, every day, all day,” explained Craig Labovitz, GM of Nokia Deepfield. “We combine that with data, with visibility into where the traffic is going, and where the traffic has come from. All of this is being done in software, at scale, in the network.”

This enables real-time security as it provides instant knowledge of every application on the network.

It also helps avoid false positives — these occur when DDoS prevention software detects a surge in Internet traffic and wrongly thinks it’s an attack. Deepfield’s maps of the Internet help it determine if the surge is a legitimate increase in traffic or an actual DDoS attack.

“Security is really about who has the best data? Who has the best data to address false positives? Can you discriminate the attackers from the legitimate traffic?,” Labovitz said. With cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) fueling major DDoS attacks, security can’t be an afterthought, he added. “Security is an integral part to the next-generation network.”

Network Services Platform

Nokia’s Network Services Platform is its SDN platform for carriers. It allows operators to automate network services across multiple network layers, both on-premise and in the cloud. It also works with equipment from multiple vendors.

“It is really unleashing the ability for full centralized control of the whole network,” said Sasa Nijemcevic, VP and GM for network and service management at Nokia. “A product like Deepfield adds another dimension to this story. We believe that most of the building blocks to achieve that automation of the network are there.”

ACG Research analyst Stephen Collins uses a slide (below) to show how the software and hardware work together to automate the network.

“The FP4 chip generates the network telemetry data to provide real-time visibility into packet flows,” he wrote in an email. “The Deepfield software handles the big data analytics and is a key part of the complete solution for generating the intelligence (insights) that closes the feedback loop for the orchestration software, which in Nokia’s world is the NSP network services platform.”

The next-step is identifying use cases for automated networking, such as using Deepfield software to automate the process of looking for anomalies, ACG Research analyst and CEO Ray Mota said. Nokia’s top SDN vendor status means service providers trust the company to “run the brains of the network,” Mota added.

“By having the credibility of becoming an incumbent, Nokia is getting the credibility to start setting the framework for automation,” Mota said. “You use the term self-driving car — I’m not going to get in a car and take my hands off the wheel that’s automated from a vendor I don’t trust.” – SDx Central