2. Use cases and scenarios

Telecom services often have very high requirements on service performance. As a consequence they often utilize redundancy and high availability (HA) mechanisms for both the service and the platform. The HA support may be built-in or provided by the platform. In any case, the HA support typically has a very fast detection and reaction time to minimize service impact. The main changes proposed in this document are about making a clear distinction between fault management and recovery a) within the VIM/NFVI and b) High Availability support for VNFs on the other, claiming that HA support within a VNF or as a service from the platform is outside the scope of Doctor and is discussed in the High Availability for OPNFV project. Doctor should focus on detecting and remediating faults in the NFVI. This will ensure that applications come back to a fully redundant configuration faster than before.

As an example, Telecom services can come with an Active-Standby (ACT-STBY) configuration which is a (1+1) redundancy scheme. ACT and STBY nodes (aka Physical Network Function (PNF) in ETSI NFV terminology) are in a hot standby configuration. If an ACT node is unable to function properly due to fault or any other reason, the STBY node is instantly made ACT, and affected services can be provided without any service interruption.

The ACT-STBY configuration needs to be maintained. This means, when a STBY node is made ACT, either the previously ACT node, after recovery, shall be made STBY, or, a new STBY node needs to be configured. The actual operations to instantiate/configure a new STBY are similar to instantiating a new VNF and therefore are outside the scope of this project.

The NFVI fault management and maintenance requirements aim at providing fast failure detection of physical and virtualized resources and remediation of the virtualized resources provided to Consumers according to their predefined request to enable applications to recover to a fully redundant mode of operation.

  1. Fault management/recovery using ACT-STBY configuration (Triggered by critical error)
  2. Preventive actions based on fault prediction (Preventing service stop by handling warnings)
  3. VM Retirement (Managing service during NFVI maintenance, i.e. H/W, Hypervisor, Host OS, maintenance)

2.1. Faults

2.1.1. Fault management using ACT-STBY configuration

In Fig. 2.1, a system-wide view of relevant functional blocks is presented. OpenStack is considered as the VIM implementation (aka Controller) which has interfaces with the NFVI and the Consumers. The VNF implementation is represented as different virtual resources marked by different colors. Consumers (VNFM or NFVO in ETSI NFV terminology) own/manage the respective virtual resources (VMs in this example) shown with the same colors.

The first requirement in this use case is that the Controller needs to detect faults in the NVFI (“1. Fault Notification” in Fig. 2.1) affecting the proper functioning of the virtual resources (labelled as VM-x) running on top of it. It should be possible to configure which relevant fault items should be detected. The VIM (e.g. OpenStack) itself could be extended to detect such faults. Alternatively, a third party fault monitoring tool could be used which then informs the VIM about such faults; this third party fault monitoring element can be considered as a component of VIM from an architectural point of view.

Once such fault is detected, the VIM shall find out which virtual resources are affected by this fault. In the example in Fig. 2.1, VM-4 is affected by a fault in the Hardware Server-3. Such mapping shall be maintained in the VIM, depicted as the “Server-VM info” table inside the VIM.

Once the VIM has identified which virtual resources are affected by the fault, it needs to find out who is the Consumer (i.e. the owner/manager) of the affected virtual resources (Step 2). In the example shown in Fig. 2.1, the VIM knows that for the red VM-4, the manager is the red Consumer through an Ownership info table. The VIM then notifies (Step 3 “Fault Notification”) the red Consumer about this fault, preferably with sufficient abstraction rather than detailed physical fault information.


Fig. 2.1 Fault management/recovery use case

The Consumer then switches to STBY configuration by switching the STBY node to ACT state (Step 4). It further initiates a process to instantiate/configure a new STBY. However, switching to STBY mode and creating a new STBY machine is a VNFM/NFVO level operation and therefore outside the scope of this project. Doctor project does not create interfaces for such VNFM level configuration operations. Yet, since the total failover time of a consumer service depends on both the delay of such processes as well as the reaction time of Doctor components, minimizing Doctor’s reaction time is a necessary basic ingredient to fast failover times in general.

Once the Consumer has switched to STBY configuration, it notifies (Step 5 “Instruction” in Fig. 2.1) the VIM. The VIM can then take necessary (e.g. pre-determined by the involved network operator) actions on how to clean up the fault affected VMs (Step 6 “Execute Instruction”).

The key issue in this use case is that a VIM (OpenStack in this context) shall not take a standalone fault recovery action (e.g. migration of the affected VMs) before the ACT-STBY switching is complete, as that might violate the ACT-STBY configuration and render the node out of service.

As an extension of the 1+1 ACT-STBY resilience pattern, a STBY instance can act as backup to N ACT nodes (N+1). In this case, the basic information flow remains the same, i.e., the consumer is informed of a failure in order to activate the STBY node. However, in this case it might be useful for the failure notification to cover a number of failed instances due to the same fault (e.g., more than one instance might be affected by a switch failure). The reaction of the consumer might depend on whether only one active instance has failed (similar to the ACT-STBY case), or if more active instances are needed as well.

2.1.2. Preventive actions based on fault prediction

The fault management scenario explained in Fault management using ACT-STBY configuration can also be performed based on fault prediction. In such cases, in VIM, there is an intelligent fault prediction module which, based on its NFVI monitoring information, can predict an imminent fault in the elements of NFVI. A simple example is raising temperature of a Hardware Server which might trigger a pre-emptive recovery action. The requirements of such fault prediction in the VIM are investigated in the OPNFV project “Data Collection for Failure Prediction” [PRED].

This use case is very similar to Fault management using ACT-STBY configuration. Instead of a fault detection (Step 1 “Fault Notification in” Fig. 2.1), the trigger comes from a fault prediction module in the VIM, or from a third party module which notifies the VIM about an imminent fault. From Step 2~5, the work flow is the same as in the “Fault management using ACT-STBY configuration” use case, except in this case, the Consumer of a VM/VNF switches to STBY configuration based on a predicted fault, rather than an occurred fault.

2.2. NVFI Maintenance

2.2.1. VM Retirement

All network operators perform maintenance of their network infrastructure, both regularly and irregularly. Besides the hardware, virtualization is expected to increase the number of elements subject to such maintenance as NFVI holds new elements like the hypervisor and host OS. Maintenance of a particular resource element e.g. hardware, hypervisor etc. may render a particular server hardware unusable until the maintenance procedure is complete.

However, the Consumer of VMs needs to know that such resources will be unavailable because of NFVI maintenance. The following use case is again to ensure that the ACT-STBY configuration is not violated. A stand-alone action (e.g. live migration) from VIM/OpenStack to empty a physical machine so that consequent maintenance procedure could be performed may not only violate the ACT-STBY configuration, but also have impact on real-time processing scenarios where dedicated resources to virtual resources (e.g. VMs) are necessary and a pause in operation (e.g. vCPU) is not allowed. The Consumer is in a position to safely perform the switch between ACT and STBY nodes, or switch to an alternative VNF forwarding graph so the hardware servers hosting the ACT nodes can be emptied for the upcoming maintenance operation. Once the target hardware servers are emptied (i.e. no virtual resources are running on top), the VIM can mark them with an appropriate flag (i.e. “maintenance” state) such that these servers are not considered for hosting of virtual machines until the maintenance flag is cleared (i.e. nodes are back in “normal” status).

A high-level view of the maintenance procedure is presented in Fig. 2.2. VIM/OpenStack, through its northbound interface, receives a maintenance notification (Step 1 “Maintenance Request”) from the Administrator (e.g. a network operator) including information about which hardware is subject to maintenance. Maintenance operations include replacement/upgrade of hardware, update/upgrade of the hypervisor/host OS, etc.

The consequent steps to enable the Consumer to perform ACT-STBY switching are very similar to the fault management scenario. From VIM/OpenStack’s internal database, it finds out which virtual resources (VM-x) are running on those particular Hardware Servers and who are the managers of those virtual resources (Step 2). The VIM then informs the respective Consumer (VNFMs or NFVO) in Step 3 “Maintenance Notification”. Based on this, the Consumer takes necessary actions (Step 4, e.g. switch to STBY configuration or switch VNF forwarding graphs) and then notifies (Step 5 “Instruction”) the VIM. Upon receiving such notification, the VIM takes necessary actions (Step 6 “Execute Instruction” to empty the Hardware Servers so that consequent maintenance operations could be performed. Due to the similarity for Steps 2~6, the maintenance procedure and the fault management procedure are investigated in the same project.


Fig. 2.2 Maintenance use case