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    3 Operational Challenges that Drive Operators Crazy

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Nov 30, 2016 9:26:45 AM

    In the digital age, both people and businesses have become dependent on reliable voice and data services in order to keep them connected to the world. As a result, it has never been more important for a service provider to maintain high quality network performance.

    iStock_000033599554_XXXLarge.jpgHowever, as data services continue to explode and network operations centers (NOC) become inundated with more and more information, operational complexities become a concern. Some of the issues impacting network operations are:

    • Inventory inaccuracy
    • Inability to resolve network faults quickly
    • Lengthy circuit turn-up time
    • Unreliable performance of high value services and applications, such as video streaming and VoIP

     It is through pulling back the curtain on some of these challenges, that we can begin to remedy the situation.

    1. So much data, so little time

    One of the biggest challenges for people working in the NOC is having to sift through the mind-numbing amount of data when an inevitable fault appears in the network. Operators, who often have dozens of windows in front of them, must correlate alarms from several systems in order to pinpoint the root cause, all while working within a limited timeframe.

    This daunting task of attempting to untangle what can feel like a web of analytics, can take minutes, to hours, to even sometimes days. Also, in order to be successful at their job, network operators must have the network and its intricacies memorized to be able to locate, diagnose, and fix a problem when one arises.

    1. Action without vision gets you nowhere

    Another issue faced by network operators has been the inability to visualize the end-to-end network. The development of next-gen services, such IoT, have driven data traffic through the roof and has caused networks to expand in size and complexity.

    In order to quickly diagnose a problem and avoid costly downtime, operators must have the capability to establish a comprehensive view of service topology and underlying physical and virtual network infrastructure across the network.

    Consider, for example, you are a driver assigned to bring a shipment to an unfamiliar location. In order to ensure the delivery makes it to the designated location on time the best tool to use would be a GPS, which highlights the best route to take. The same mentality can be applied to network operations. It is important to develop a trusted model of the network to correlate quickly and drill down into the network.  

    1. Develop and maintain the capacity to meet demand

    As the rate of data consumption continues to increase amongst customers, network capacity must increase in parallel to keep up with demand. With this being the case, network capacity planning has become an essential aspect of operations as it ensures services are delivered to customers efficiently and effectively.

    growth_graphic-1.jpgTypically, service providers have taken a just-in-case approach to capacity management, where network traffic is analyzed and once a utilization target is met, an upgrade is made to the area of the network which has reached its capacity limit.

    Through this approach, networks are over engineered in order to satisfy customer needs based on long-term forecasts. This quickly becomes inefficient as the upgrades are carried out based on “what ifs”, and often when the specific segment of the network is already near capacity, instead of thoroughly understanding network usage and better targeting capacity upgrades.

    So, is all this complexity regarding network operations giving you a headache? CENX has the prescription for you and your team!

    CENX’s Exanova solution transforms network big data into real-time actionable intelligence helping multi-vendor and multi-domain networks to run like a well oiled machine. Learn more about Exanova’s ability to help address the challenges above in our service assurance white paper.

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    Topics: Analytics, Capacity Management, Service Assurance, Fault Management

    With a JIT Approach, You Just Might Find, You Get What You Need

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Jun 13, 2016 9:20:25 AM

    In today’s fast-paced way of life, millions of people are reliant on staying connected to the world, whether it’s through mobile, wireline, or cloud services, to manage their personal and business matters. As a result, a dependable network infrastructure is critical to providing the high level of service quality users demand. However, operators are struggling to upgrade their networks so they can keep pace with the relentless growth in network traffic and maintain high quality levels, all while trying to maximize profits.

    The current approach taken by service providers to address their capacity management needs has been one based on long-term, highly conservative forecasts, in which they over-engineer the network, adding capacity to sites potentially years ahead of when demand is expected to be needed. This Just-In-Case (JIC) approach, which takes a shot in the dark predicting the levels of user traffic five to seven years down the road and the amount of capacity needed to meet these expectations, results in large capex expenses, where operators own the backhaul network themselves, and very high opex, where they lease cell site access from third-party providers. In the current market environment, as revenue figures are decreasing and the demand put on networks by new apps and devices continues to increase, operators are working under less than ideal circumstances.

    Just as the famous Rolling Stones’ song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” suggests, service providers are often forced to accept a sub-par capacity planning strategy due to poorly instrumented networks and simplistic analytics. However, for many service providers looking to make better use of existing resources to improve user quality of experience, a solution that delivers assured service quality and availability when necessary is required. With CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence software, service providers can buy what they need, when they need it as it applies a Just-In-Time (JIT) approach to backhaul upgrade management.

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    Using Exanova to manage network capacity aids service providers in their efforts to plan and deliver capacity more efficiently. Through this JIT approach, capacity in individual network locations is upgraded as needed based on detailed analysis of actual network metrics and Service Operations, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM). As a result, significant benefits are realized in the form of slashed inventory costs and reduced capex associated with network operations. In fact, CENX’s solution has already generated millions of dollars in savings by rightsizing heavily over-engineered circuits for many Tier 1 mobile service providers.

    The distinct modules which make up Exanova’s intuitive software allows service providers to take their network operations to the next level. CENX’s capacity planning module provides carriers with comprehensive and detailed information allowing service providers to rightsize the embedded base infrastructure and rein in expense growth. Additionally, advancements have been made in Exanova’s latest releases to factor in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) scaling. CENX’s JIT approach provides the capabilities to assure services across any network by visualizing networks and services end-to-end through a single pane of glass, continuously measuring key performance indicators, and automating needed buildout.

    As network technology continues to evolve, having all of your data in one place becomes more and more important to generate actionable intelligence. Thanks to CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence JIT capacity management approach, operators are able to better align network resources with the demand of customers, thereby saving vital opex and capex, and more importantly, proving Mick Jagger wrong.

    Topics: Capacity Management

    5 Hurdles to Effective Capacity Management

    Posted by Erica Watts on Sep 1, 2014 4:30:00 AM

    Are you over-engineering you mobile backhaul networks? Here are five reasons why this may be happening:

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    1. Legacy backhaul technology

    Many operators have now moved away from backhaul based on multiple T1/E1s, or even Ethernet over Sonet/SDH, and toward IP/Ethernet. But those operators that still have such technologies in place are constrained by inelastic bandwidth levels. Only a limited set of rates can be supported and the effort associated with upgrades is very large, encouraging over-provisioning.

    2. Poorly instrumented networks

    Many networks are not sufficiently instrumented with Service OAM, such as Y.1731 or TWAMP. As a result, operators cannot adequately measure critical user experience-related parameters such as delay, delay variation and frame loss across the network. At the same time, most mobile networks sample actual utilization levels every five or 15 minutes. Such intervals are far too long to give an accurate view of utilization given the bursty nature of packet networks. With limited network data at their disposal, operators prefer to create cautious forecasts.

    3. Inaccurate network topology and inventory

    Even where an operator is using modern IP backhaul in a well-instrumented network, inaccurate network and topology inventory can cause problems. Running complex performance and utilization analytics against the wrong topology data results in untrustworthy information on where network upgrades are needed.

    4. Analytics that do not scale

    A large operator network with tens of thousands of cell sites will generate massive amounts of utilization and performance data – in effect, "big data" – for analysis. The algorithms that process this data and enable operators to create network upgrade plans are complex, especially as they must cope with network changes in real time. Most legacy operations support systems (OSSs) have not been designed to handle big data, nor are they underpinned with big data technologies. Operators do not have the analytical tools they need for a more surgical approach to capacity planning.

    5. Limited automation of the upgrade process

    Even if operators had instrumentation and analytics to tell them exactly what to upgrade when, most do not have the resources to upgrade capacity at individual cell sites more frequently than once in two or three years. In most operators, the upgrade process for a cell site is a complex multi-step process. It involves ordering additional bandwidth from access providers (for off-net locations) and tracking this to fulfillment, provisioning changes on aggregation and cell site routers, turn-up testing of new or augmented backhaul circuits and rehoming of services where physical capacity of resources is exhausted. Upgrading all the sites of a 50,000-site network over three years means upgrading almost 1,400 sites every month – a highly resource-intensive activity. Without significant automation improvements, it would be impossible for operators to upgrade more frequently – for example, once a year – as they simply would not have the headcount to do it.

     

    This blog post is an excerpt from the CENX & Light Reading white paper written by Caroline Chappell, “Aligning User Experience & Cost in Mobile Networks Through Just-In-Time Capacity Management”. 

    To learn more about tuning your network with just-in-time capacity management, watch our free webinar "Achieving a Finely-tuned Network Through Just-In-Time Capacity Management" on demand.  

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    Topics: Capacity Management