Product Specification: Escaux vSOP virtualization technology


Hardware virtualization or platform virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual machine that acts like a real computer with an operating system. Software executed on these virtual machines is separated from the underlying hardware resources. For example, a computer that is running Microsoft Windows may host a virtual machine that looks like a computer with Ubuntu Linux operating system; Ubuntu-based software can be run on the virtual machine.

In hardware virtualization, the host machine is the actual machine on which the virtualization takes place, and the guest machine is the virtual machine. The words host and guest are used to distinguish the software that runs on the actual machine from the software that runs on the virtual machine.

Since 2005, the use of virtualization technologies has known a steep rise. Products such as VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V and many others allow cost savings, optimizing hardware efficiency, reduced power consumption and other interesting possibilities.

Escaux vSOP virtualization technology

In the Escaux UC architecture, the SOP or Service Operational Point is the server element where all operational tasks are being executed. Typically a SOP is a physical server either located in the end-customer's network or in a datacenter.

Escaux has developed the Virtual SOP (vSOP) technology to allow an organization to group several distinct SOP entities into a single physical server resulting in a more efficient hardware utilization.

Benefits and use cases

vSOP technology is typically used to build a multi-tenant solution where several distinct customers are serviced by the same hardware platform. The vSOP technology provides a very strict separation between each of the customers. Each vSOP provides a dedicated context for the customer hence maintaining 100% configuration flexibility for each individual customer. The most common use case of vSOP technology is to build a UCaaS solution.

Some of the supported features:
  • Security:
    • Each SOP is contained in a completely isolated context.
    • vSOP is based on standard open technology.
  • Reliability:
    • Used by more than 200 companies providing virtualized servers in the cloud.
  • Real-time:
    • Resources (memory, CPU, disk) are isolated between vSOP instances.
    • vSOP performance approaches native performance.
  • Scalability:
    • A high number of vSOP instances can be run on a single host machine.
  • Cost effective:
    • A modest host machine can support dozens of vSOP instances.
  • Flexible networking:
    • vSOPs instances support network interface bridging with a layer 2 isolation as well as IEEE802.1q VLANs.

For more information, please refer to the Administration Guide.

Technical Description

The vSOP is a virtualized SOP running on a physical server. This physical server itself is also a SOP. Both the host SOP and the guest vSOP systems are connected and managed via an SMP. The goal of the Escaux vSOP virtualization technology is to run several SOP instances on the same physical hardware, not to combine for example a Windows server together with a SOP.

The following drawing shows a SOP hosting a vSOP setup.

  • The eth0 network interface on the SOP is configured as a IEEE 802.1q trunk. Each trunk will carry 'operational traffic' for a specific vSOP (i.e. for a specific end-customer). It is recommended to always use the same private or public IP address for vSOPs in order to have an identical network configuration on the vSOP end.
  • The eth1 network interface on the SOP provides connectivity to the SMP. Each vSOP is configured with a pre-configured private IP address in a specific subnet. This subnet used may not overlap with a subnet used in the customer's IP/VPN.
  • On each vSOP, 2 (virtual) network interfaces are mapped on the SOP network interfaces.
    • eth0 has a VLAN assigned to it.
    • eth1 receives a private IP address for management purpose.
  • Redundancy
    • Cloud mode: For redundancy purposes, a second vSOP hosts a redundant SOP. The 2 vSOPs form a active/active cluster.
    • Hybrid cloud mode: As an option, the second vSOP can also be located on-premise forming an hybrid cloud, the benefit being that telephony can be maintained even during outage. However, a careful design of the failover aspect must be done taking into consideration the local connectivity of the on-premise SOP.

Supported features and limitations

The following limitations apply to a virtual SOP or vSOP:

  • In order to connect IP phones, a fax, a door intercom, a net.Desktop client, a net.Console client, ... located on the end-customer premises to a vSOP in a datacenter, a 3rd-party data connection must be available. This connection should be an IP-VPN connection, correctly dimensioned and QoS enabled. The exact dimensioning of these links depends on the end-customer's use case. Escaux can provide consultancy to assist with the dimensioning of these links, analysis of traffic flows and definition of QoS rules.
  • PSTN access: due to the nature of the vSOP, no physical interface cards can be used. In order to connect the vSOP to the PSTN network, SIP trunks need to be used. Escaux can provide consultancy to assist with the interconnection of the right SIP provider and can also act as SIP provider. Typically 1 SIP trunk per customer/vSOP is required but a more advanced design can be made.
  • Fax: due to the nature of the vSOP, no physical interface cards can be used. The following possibilities exist:
    • Fax sending via net.Desktop (ESCAUX fax server required).
    • Email-to-fax and fax-to-email (ESCAUX fax server required).
    • T.38 can be proposed where fax is necessary. Escaux fax server required and technological limitations of T.38 and Fax over IP apply.
    • In case faxes are business critical, the usage of a local SOP (hybrid mode) with an FXS interface card and TDM connectivity is recommended.
  • Hardware: a vSOP runs inside a SOP and the SOP should be an Escaux certified server: preferably a "vSOP Host" for high capacity requirements, or alternatively a "Core" or "Edge".
  • The number of vSOPs per SOP strongly depends on the selected SOP hardware and the end-customer's use case (number of users, features and calls). Escaux can provide consultancy to assist with the dimensioning of your solution.
  • Modems: Unsupported via a vSOP. The usage of a local analog line or a local SOP (hybrid mode) with an FXS interface card and TDM connectivity is mandatory.
  • net.Console is not supported on a vSOP.
  • For security reasons, direct SSH access from within the end-customer's network to the vSOP is disabled, as a result the end-customer does not have access to the SOP Shell interface.
  • For security reason and to avoid customer errors, an end-customer should only have "poweroperator" access to the admin SMP access level. This assures that no additional software can be installed on the vSOP by the end-customer itself.

Licenses requirements

The SOP hosting vSOPs is a regular SOP. Regular SOP pricing applies. The creation and use of a vSOP comes at an additional license cost. Please contact your Account Manager for further details.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

More information about Escaux support of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure technologies can be found here.

Third-party virtualization technologies

Third-party virtualization technologies (eg from VMware) can be used upon request and after approval of Escaux. Please note that due to the large amount of virtualization products currently on the market, testing & validation of our software is exclusively done on bare metal hardware or on vSOP technology as describe above.

The way in which some virtualization technologies handle guests running other operating systems and applications makes impossible to guarantee that the real-time sensitive applications running on a SOP receive sufficient resources. A lack of resources could not only result in voice or video quality issues, but in functional issues as well. Minuscule delays in reply time are less of a concern for IT applications such a mail server, web server or file server as it doesn't impact the customer experience of the service they provide. Few people will complain if an e-mail arrives with a few seconds of delay, but having that kind of delay when dealing with telephony, fax or IM applications is unacceptable.

Because Escaux doesn't have a full end to end ownership, Escaux cannot guaranty anymore his SLA in all cases where it's not obvious the problem is located in the Escaux Service. As from the moment Escaux needs help of the virtualization platform owner to solve the problem, the incident won't be taken into account in the SLA calculation.

VM Configuration Requirements

The minimum capacity requirements for deploying Escaux servers on VMware are defined below:

Server type vCPU vRAM vDisk vNIC
Escaux Edge 4 (at 3.0 GHz) 8 GB 300 GB 2
Escaux Core 8 (at 2.1+ GHz) 16 GB 300 GB 2
Escaux vSOP Host 16 (at 2.1+ GHz) 64 GB 1800 GB 2

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