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Serro’s Satellite Network Uses OpenDaylight to Automate Service Delivery

Serro Solutions designs networks and data centers for customers that range from healthcare to transportation to enterprises and startups. They partner with companies including Boeing, General Dynamics, Unisys and others.

One of their clients is a networking communications service provider that operates a global network of medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites. The satellites can be directed to relay network communications for commercial enterprise customers around the world. They commissioned Serro to implement a solution that would allow their enterprise customers to easily schedule the use of the satellite resources, and to control the actions of the satellites such that the end customers' communication needs can be met in near real-time through a high level of automation.

Serro architected a cloud-based SDN solution using OpenDaylight, OpenStack and other open source code to help the provider take control of its global MEO infrastructure.

How to Automate Service Delivery

The service provider’s main challenge was to automate the complex internal tasks to fulfill a customer's service request from start to finish. A typical customer request to turn up a service or to temporarily add bandwidth to an existing service could take weeks to fulfill due to cumbersome processes. Numerous detailed tasks were being performed manually by different teams within the company, occasionally resulting in errors and/or delays in completing the tasks. Occasionally the service provider was unable to capitalize on business opportunities due to the long lead time necessary to fulfill some of the customer requests. Enter SDN.

Cloud-based SDN Platform with OpenDaylight

Serro Solutions developed a cloud-based SDN controller using OpenDaylight, OpenStack and other open source code to communicate to the terrestrial and satellite infrastructures and deliver services in near real-time. With Serro’s SDN solution, the service provider can now route traffic, manage network resources, and track network utilization.

“We love using open source because it gives us the flexibility to build what we need while not starting from scratch,” said Edgar Lombera, Vice President of Engineering, Serro Solutions. “Using OpenDaylight and OpenStack we’ve been able to build a framework for SDN that is platform-based, modular and extensible so we can customize a solution to each client’s needs. It’s perfect to get them started using SDN and seeing benefits right away.”

This figure gives a snapshot of the SDN solution they designed:

An SDN application was also created to help the provider make policy decisions by analyzing traffic, statistics, telemetry, line usage, weather conditions and more. A policy manager validates that the request adheres to the policies of how the resources can be utilized. The directives for the request are translated into machine language and sent to the configuration manager.

The workflow of these processes is totally automated. All of these actions are enacted through machine-to-machine communication; no humans need to intervene. As a result, decisions can be made and actions taken in near real-time to provide the requestor with the necessary service very quickly.

Serro’s SDN solution enabled the service provider to better utilize their networking resources and fill urgent needs for their commercial customers. This solution can be replicated for many other types of companies that need SDN on a global scale.

This video explains how Serro’s MEO solution works:

The Results

Since deploying Serro's application, the service provider has increased the utilization of its satellite resources. Customers find it very convenient to use the service, especially on short notice now that the provisioning can be done in near real-time. The application has proven to be a real competitive advantage for the service provider as the company can now address customers' needs in minutes rather than the typical weeks-long process without automation. Taking the human element out of the process has vastly reduced the potential for errors in scheduling the use of and configuring the satellite resources. What's more, the company expected to hire upwards of a hundred people to manage the original manual service, but the automation enabled by the SDN solution meant that only a handful of people were needed to operate the global service. This has helped to keep down the cost of providing the highly sophisticated service.

“Using the ‘open source first, customization second’ model, we are working on other SDN use cases that integrate use of OpenDaylight, OpenStack and others,” said Mr. Lombero. “We are seeing a surge in interest about SDN from clients of all sizes. As we work on things like DDoS protection for cloud-based SaaS, or high efficiency distributed apps for data-plane, we will continue to turn to OpenDaylight as our controller platform of choice.”

Parts of this case study were reprinted with permission from Serro Solutions. You can read the full case study here: Serro MEO Case Study.

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