Service providers can no longer settle for incremental improvements.

As networks evolve to include software-based systems and virtual network functions, providers’ ability to deploy and support services improves greatly.

In this fast-paced world, where responding quickly to the changing demands of users is paramount, service providers are required to revamp their approach to network operations.

In this three-part blog series, we’ll examine the different pieces which will take service providers towards automation.

The first step down this path of advancement is a matter of examining the blueprint of the network.

Instead of continuously finding ways to make employees in the NOC or SOC marginally more efficient at alarm and ticket resolution, the goal for many service providers is to achieve lights-out operations.

Now, wanting something and knowing how to get there are two very different things. Service providers require a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.

It’s All in the Domain

Building this functionality will be a challenge. Establishing near lights-out operations is entirely feasible today, but it will only happen if service providers shift their way of thinking. First, the problem needs to be approached by focusing on network domains, rather than the traditional approach of focusing on OSS functions. Second, automation must start within each domain, and not as a single loop or process across the entire network.

The ability to automate operations across domains is important, as complex services span across multiple domains.  But implementing a control loop at this scale would be a massive undertaking due to the complexity involved. Instead, service providers should design domains to manage their own resources, and carry out auto-healing and auto-scaling individually. These processes take place behind “closed doors”, and only share the necessary output with other domains.

The Factory Process

Control loops such as this can already be found in a number of other industries. For example, the process to manufacture any complex product, such as aircrafts. This process usually sees multiple factories involved, with each location responsible for creating certain parts or subassemblies of the aircraft. In order to create a finished product, safely and profitably, that is ready to join the fleet, each factory has a specific objective which has to be met within a given timeframe. If something goes awry in one of the factories, a supply shortage for example, it is their responsibility to get their operations back on track, and deliver the component that is needed.

Federating closed-loop processes into a hierarchy enables easier integration with other processes and makes the process of automation manageable. By having each domain carry out local events and it all come together seamlessly into an overarching story, this is the first step to having lights-out operations be realized, and it’s a step that can be taken today.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Download the Appledore Research Group’s white paper to learn how increased automation is the only way forward to support the demands of cloud services.


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