You are on page 1of 13

Mining industries can thrive

with SDN
Address emerging network operational challenges effectively

Technology White Paper

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Contents
The advent of SDN

Deploying SDN in a WAN

SDN use cases for mining industries

Conclusion

12

Acronyms 12
References 13

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

The advent of SDN


Software-defined networking (SDN) is a new way of building and operating
communications networks that enable better end-to-end control, automation
and service agility.1 SDN evolved from the classic WAN model, in which the
control and data planes were integrated in a network element; but now in
SDN the networks control and data planes are physically separated (see
Figure 1). The control plane function resides in a centralized platform called
the SDN controller, which is equipped with an open, northbound API. Hence,
the network is programmable, allowing other applications such business
support systems to control and monitor the network using the controller
in a programmatic manner.
Figure 1. SDN network architecture

Business
application

API

Business
application

Applications

Business
application

SDN network model

SDN
controller

Network
services

Network
model

Network
analytics

API

Control
plane

Classic WAN network model


Network
element

Control
Data
Control
Data

Control
Data
Control
Data

Control
Data

Network
element

e.g., CLI, SNMP,


OpenFlow, PCEP, BGP4-LS

Data

Data

Data

Data
Data

With the controllers central intelligence and network programmability, SDN


enables network operators to rapidly and efficiently provision and change
network connectivity and services to a multitude of network endpoints with
full automation. Through its intelligent network resource control, it also allows
operators to quickly adapt to changing bandwidth demand and traffic patterns
so that their network resources are used more efficiently and applications
attain higher performance. Consequently, SDN enables operators to be nimble
and meet ever-changing, on-demand dynamic service requirements.
In the IT realm, data centers are undergoing transformation driven by the
adoption of a cloud computing paradigm. Compute resources are now
consumed dynamically with frequent creation and deletion of virtual machines.

For a detailed discussion of SDN, consult the Metro Ethernet Forum SDN white paper

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

As a result, the data center network fabric that is static and rigid has to
become dynamic and nimble and has to scale up for the massive number of
compute endpoints. To meet the new network requirements, SDN has emerged
as the de facto data center network fabric transformation solution, rendering
unprecedented service agility to adapt to the cloud-based era.
The requirement to deliver dynamic on-demand network services has also
spread to WANs as enterprise users also want dynamic network services to
realize the benefits of cloud computing. They need the network to be more
responsive to bandwidth utilization change to optimize network performance
in real time. This presents an immense new challenge for communication
service providers (CSPs) to satisfy their customers. Thus, a significant number
of CSPs are starting to adopt or evaluate SDN to tackle the challenge.

Deploying SDN in a WAN


There are two SDN deployment models: overlay SDN and infrastructure SDN.

Overlay SDN
Deploying overlay SDN over a WAN is commonly known as software-defined
WAN (SD-WAN). This deployment model allows operators to deploy dynamic
and intelligent SDN without changing or upgrading their existing networks.
The deployment is done by using an SDN gateway or network services
gateway (NSG) at all required locations. Each NSG is considered a network
endpoint. This model appeals to operators who need to expand the network
connectivity to a multitude of locations in or beyond their service areas
without having to expand their WANs and tackle the control plane scalability
and bulk provisioning challenge. When there is a lack of access link assets to
provide reachability to some locations, overlay SDN can be flexibly deployed
over a CSPs VPN service or business internet service (see Figure 2). Regardless
of whether it is through the current network, a service providers network
or the internet, SDN utilizes the same provisioning, operation and service
creation procedures to attain the highest operational efficiency.
Figure 2. Overlay SDN
SDN controller

Internet
LAN

CSP VPN

Private network

NOC
router
Network
management

Remote locations

NOC

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Infrastructure SDN
Infrastructure SDN is deployed when operators need to fully control and
operate the WAN to meet the required network and service agility and attain
the necessary automation. Instead of using the traditional approach of
customizing the operations support system (OSS) code for each network
element and service type, SDN relies on abstracted information models of
network elements and services to link them back to the OSS or other network
or business applications through the open northbound API. Thus, SDN greatly
simplifies automation deployments and operations, resulting in a faster
response to new or changing service requirements. With an open approach,
SDN can be deployed in a multivendor and multi-technology environment; for
example, IP/MPLS, optical and microwave with consistent information models
(see Figure 3) that provide operators with a unified approach to automate
and control their networks.
Figure 3. Infrastructure SDN
SDN controller

LAN
NOC
router
Network
management

While operators can certainly deploy brand new infrastructure SDN, a more
practical approach is to evolve their existing WAN networks to become
software-defined networks. Through proper upgrade, a lot of recent network
equipment can be retrofitted with the required open SDN interface. If, for some
reason, operators do not intend to upgrade or cannot upgrade their networks,
they can consider overlay SDN.

SDN use cases for mining industries


Initially, SDN may not seem particularly applicable to the communications
networks in mining industries, because the connectivity required by most
operations today has usually been static. However, due to volatile business
conditions and stringent environmental regulations, it is necessary for mining
companies to adapt resourcefully and innovate boldly in order to improve
product capacity, operation efficiency and safety while reducing costs.
The keystones of the adaptation strategy are to wisely invest in and adopt
innovative technologies and embark on new initiatives to automate
field operations with backend analytics and decision-support processes.
5

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

With these modernization efforts, mining companies are facing new


operational challenges similar to those found in data centers and faced by
CSPs described earlier. This requires a shift of the network paradigm. The
following use cases illustrate how SDN can be used to address the challenges.
1. Agile network connectivity provisioning for pervasive IoT devices
Problem: Internet of Things (IoT) deployment is foundational to digital
transformation of mining operations. There are significant benefits
to operations by deploying connected devices such as field sensors,
valves, motors and ruggedized computers. From seismic data in the
exploration phase to drilling parameters (vibration, drilling rates, rock
and mud properties), a large amount of field data can be collected
and processed in real time by local personnel and remote experts.
Unprecedented levels of situational awareness and collaboration can
be attained to boost availability, reliability, performance and safety
as well as reduce costs.

However, the sheer number of connected devices stretches the


WAN scalability and agility to unseen levels. Moreover, when a new
IoT device needs to be activated, not only must a technician be
dispatched to install it, but network connectivity is also required.
Network parameters such as VLAN ID, IP address, security policy and
perhaps a new VPN need to be assigned and created. This is laborintensive and requires a lot of co-ordination (see Figure 4), incurring
significant cost increases.

Figure 4. IoT device activation with traditional WAN

IoT platform
Network change
completed in
days/weeks

New IoT activation request

Installation dispatch

Network conguration
WAN

Project coordinator

LAN (VLAN)
conguration

VLAN ID

IP address

WAN (IP)
conguration

Security
team

Firewall
conguration

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Moreover, the IoT enables a more distributed control paradigm in


which connected devices no longer just communicate with the NOC,
but also intensively among themselves. Consequently, meshed
connectivity is required everywhere in the WAN.

Solution: In traditional WAN network deployment, network and service


provisioning typically requires extensive provisioning either by the
on-site personnel using CLI or by network staff in the NOC with the
network manager. When changes or updates are required, further
efforts are necessary to implement them throughout the network.

With SDN, by coupling its flexible API with an IoT management


platform (see Figure 5), there is an opportunity to automate network
provisioning to provide the necessary connectivity when a new IoT
request is planned to be activated.

Figure 5. A typical IoT management platform


Application development and execution platform (ADEP)

Data collection and processing


Management plane

Security

IoT platform

Connectivity layer

SDN

IoT devices

When a new IoT device is being activated (see Figure 6), the activation request
will trigger a dispatch order to send a technician to install the device. At the
same time, it will also trigger the IoT management platforms connectivity
manager to program SDN through the API to effect the necessary network
connectivity, services and security policy for this device. With network
connectivity now established, the IoT activation process can proceed
to the advanced phase.

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Figure 6. A new IoT deployment triggers automated network provisioning


Security

Data collection and processing


Management plane

New IoT activation request

Connectivity layer
API

Installation dispatch

SDN controller

Policy/security
zones

IP
address
L2/L3
VPN service

Service
chaining

WAN
interconnect

Network change
completed
automatically

Coupling the automated network provisioning capability in a software-defined


network with an IoT management platform greatly streamlines the IoT
activation and deployment process with minimal needs for specialized network
expertise. This is particularly significant as automated IoT provisioning is vital
to a seamless, large-scale IoT deployment, which is the underpinning of a
successful digital transformation.
With the decoupling of the control and data plane, the SDN controller can
automatically distribute and update network-wide SDN tunnel endpoint
forwarding information to NSGs without burdening the underlay network to
advertise and distribute any new routing information. Consequently, largescale meshed connectivity can be established effortlessly. Figure 7 shows
an SDN blueprint in the IoT era.
Figure 7. An SDN blueprint in the IoT era
IoT management

API
SDN controller

IoT devices

Access

LPWA-connected
IoT (LoRa, Wi-Fi,
LTE, 5G)

Integrated
Wi-Fi AP
LTE
Wi-Fi
5G

LoRa
Sigfox
Ethernetconnected
IoT

LTE uplink

Critical WAN

IoT apps in data center


Fleet
management
Asset
management
Location
tracking
SCADA

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

2. Facilitate transition to IT/OT convergence


Problem: Mining industries today depend heavily on technologies.
On the one hand, operation technology (OT) is critical to support
exploration, extraction and other industrial processes with field
devices, sensors and control software that monitor and optimize
production, typically in real time. OT focuses to manage the
physical infrastructure in the field to ensure smooth operations and
safety. On the other hand, IT plays a seminal role in data collection
and processing at the back end for asset management, business
processes and workflow management. Up to now, OT and IT operate
in separate silos. However, as OT is becoming more data-intensive
and analytics-driven, there is an opportunity for IT to actively
collaborate with OT to attain higher overall company efficiency
and cost optimization. Consequently, mining companies are starting
to progress toward IT/OT convergence.

One of the key initial steps in a transition to IT/OT convergence is


to consolidate their respective network operations into a converged
shared network while preserving each entitys current operating
practice and autonomy to rapidly create, change and delete network
services as needed. This is because mining industries would want
to avoid any operations disruption and continue to ensure efficient,
effective and safe extraction, as well as processing and transport of
output. While some advanced network management systems today
allow multiple entities to share a common network through the use
of VPN technology and span-of-control management capability,
they fall short of empowering each organization to administer the
network resources with full autonomy.

Solution: SDN enables network operators to virtually segment the integrated


network into slices for multiple entities (or tenants using SDN
terminology) in an organization (see Figure 8). Through this networkslicing capability, each tenant owns a set of pre-assigned network
assets, such as an equipment port, complete with full administrator
privileges. It is equivalent to actually owning and operating their
own network. Hence, they can retain the same proven operations
processes in the initial transition to IT/OT convergence to avoid
disruptions without intruding into other tenants resources
unintentionally.

The SDN multi-tenant network slicing capability allows mining


companies to execute IT/OT convergence at a fully controlled pace,
driven by business and technological merits, thus enabling them
to realize the full economic and efficiency gains.

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Figure 8. SDN network slice empowers organizations with full autonomy


User group
Network slice
Mining SDN

LMR/LTE

SCADA

SCADA

LMR/LTE

IoT
IoT

OT slice
VoIP

IT slice
Internet

SDN
VoIP

Video
conference

Internet
Video
conference

3. Service-aware network self-optimization


Problem: Applications in a digital mine are becoming bandwidth-intensive and
dynamic. Besides operational applications, many new IT applications
such as video surveillance, video conferencing, distance learning
and entertainment for remote crews are becoming prevalent. With
more automation, operational applications are generating data
throughout the day, while IT applications like distance learning and
entertainment generate data according to their own use cycle,
which can cause congestion in one link while other links have spare
bandwidth at the same time. This sub-optimal use of bandwidth is
because networks today can be self-healing from failures, but not
responsive to performance degradation. They lack the intelligence
to automatically re-distribute traffic flow in response to bandwidth
utilization change to provide optimal network performance.
Solution: Infrastructure SDN offers utilities an opportunity to dynamically and
intelligently direct traffic across the network to avoid congestion
by using the embedded path computation engine (PCE).2 When
provided with full network service information (endpoints, priority,
quality of service), as well as network-wide information (topology
and link bandwidth usage), an SDN controller can monitor network
services key performance indicators (KPIs) such as packet loss and
delay. When a certain network link is congested and affecting KPIs,
2

10

A PCE, as defined in IETF RFC 4655, is a network entity or application that is capable of computing a network path
or route based on a network graph with computational constraints applied. For a technical discussion of PCE and
its benefits, please read Computing a path to more profits: Centralized PCE using Bell Labs Self-Tuned Adaptive
Routing available at http://resources.alcatel-lucent.com/asset/186905.

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

an SDN controller can make use of advanced analytics algorithms


and techniques such as linear programming and graph theory to
compute new optimal paths for affected services, should the service
policies require. Essentially, the SDN controller can dynamically tune
the network to re-optimize the application performance. Figure 9
illustrates the key steps of the re-optimization process:
1. SDN controller monitors the network-side conditions and
performance. It detects a link crossing its predefined utilization
thresholds (e.g. 85 percent as in the figure). Other indicators
could be excessive delay or packet loss.
2. These KPIs trigger operator-defined policies to determine the
actions required for affected network services.
3. If conditions are met (e.g. degradation lasts longer than a preset
time), the PCE is called to compute an alternate path to reroute
traffic to remedy conditions.
4. Based on network-wide bandwidth utilization, the PCE computes
and reroutes traffic to alternate paths through the controller
network resource control function.
5. Traffic is now rerouted to a less congested alternate path.
Performance is now restored.
Figure 9. A dynamic self-tuning software-defined network

KPIs
2
Policies
3

PCE
85%
usage

60%
usage

11

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

Conclusion
Digital mine transformation is already underway. Mining companies worldwide
are embracing new technologies such as IoT and adopting bold programs like
IT/OT convergence to increase their competitiveness under volatile business
conditions. Todays market forces bring about new operational challenges
that require fresh thinking.
SDN is a vital technology for mining companies that have embarked
on this transformation journey. With SDN providing smarter end-to-end
network control, automation and service agility, mining industries
can rise to the new market challenges and will continue to flourish.

Acronyms
ADEP

application development and execution platform

AP

access point

API

application programming interface

BGP4-LS

Border Gateway Protocol v4 Link State

CCTV

closed circuit television

CLI

command line interface

IT

information technology

KPI

key performance indicator

LMR

land mobile radio

LPWA

low power, wide area

LTE

Long Term Evolution

MPLS

Multiprotocol Label Switching

NOC

network operations center

NSG

network services gateway

OSS

operations support system

OT

operational technology

PCE

path computation element

PCEP

Path Computation Element Protocol

SCADA

supervisory control and data acquisition

SDN

software-defined networking

12

Technology White Paper


Mining industries can thrive with SDN

SD-WAN

software-defined WAN

SNMP

Session Network Management Protocol

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol

VPN

virtual private network

WAN

wide area network

References
1. IETF RFC 4655: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4655
2. Metro Ethernet Forum: http://www.mef.net
3. Nokia Network Services Platform:
http://networks.nokia.com/portfolio/products/network-services-platform
4. Nuage Networks: http://www.nuagenetworks.net/
5. Nuage Networks Network Services Gateway:
http://www.nuagenetworks.net/enterprise/virtualized-network-services
6. Nuage Networks Software-Defined WAN:
http://www.nuagenetworks.net/enterprise/software-defined-wan/

Nokia is a registered trademark of Nokia Corporation. Other product and company names
mentioned herein may be trademarks or trade names of their respective owners.
Nokia Oyj
Karaportti 3
FI-02610 Espoo
Finland
Tel. +358 (0) 10 44 88 000
Product code: PR1605020056EN (May)

Nokia 2016

nokia.com