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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

    Defining Service Assurance Standards in LSO Framework

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Oct 11, 2016 1:00:00 AM

    MEF releases LSO Architecture Framework

    As service providers begin to deploy software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies into their networks, ensuring services across combined physical and virtualized infrastructure becomes a massive challenge that needs to be addressed.  

    In its recently published Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) Reference Architecture document, the MEF aims to tackle this issue by establishing a standardized way of managing end-to-end services across multi-vendor and multi-domain networks.

    iStock_76135577_LARGE.jpgWhat impact will it have on service providers?

    According to CENX’s CTO, Chris Purdy, the work being done at MEF is vital to carriers as it assists them in their efforts to deliver agile and assured services.

    “What [the LSO Reference Architecture] does is defines the major interfaces for both interactions between service providers, allowing services to cross those service providers, and interfaces happening from LSO to other elements, both northbound and southbound,” explains Purdy.

    “There’s a tremendous amount of work happening to define the information models that those interfaces will use, and the standards that could allow for interoperability between all the different components.”

    In today’s segmented market, customized implementations taking place in networks are forcing carriers to build unique solutions to help manage and support their operations. However, Purdy believes that can all soon change.

    “By defining these standards with open interfaces, it essentially allows one company to build something once and use it many times,” says Purdy. “As a result, this can dramatically lower costs and improve the timeline to get these services available and out in the market.”

    Service assurance within the LSO Framework

    In the case of NFV, service providers have been investing resources into figuring out how to quickly spin up and integrate new virtual network functions (VNF) as a result of the opportunity the technology provides. This has left the service assurance aspect of operations to be largely overlooked.

    However, an LSO approach provides an essential tool to service providers as it allows them to drive the transformation from legacy infrastructure to SDN and NFV with more totality, ensuring long-term success.

    Additionally, according to Purdy, a significant portion of LSO is the assurance part, not just fulfillment.

    What I think is going happening is service providers who are starting to put these next-gen technologies into production are going to say, ‘Okay wait a minute, I can turn them on, but how can I ensure that they’re in place,” explains Purdy. “I think what the LSO framework is trying to do is understand what the components are, and how will it get all of that data.”

    CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence

    A complete LSO solution, such as CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence, collects and analyzes data from both physical and virtualized infrastructure to deliver real-time actionable intelligence, and provides the service deployment and assurance tools required to orchestrate data services across physical network functions and VNFs quickly and cost-effectively.

    Of course, Purdy understands there is still quite a bit of work that needs to be done before the MEF’s vision of a standards-based industry comes to fruition.

    “When it ultimately comes to assuring and orchestrating services across networks, the MEF has to coordinate with other standards bodies and associations in order to ensure that all of the trends come together in a working solution.”

    Topics: LSO, Service Assurance

    The Value in Service Assurance

    Posted by Matt Mariani on Sep 13, 2016 8:34:56 AM

    As legacy networks shift from hardware to software components and begin to integrate virtualized technologies, such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), assuring service quality has become a key focus for service providers in order to differentiate themselves from competitors.

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    A comprehensive service assurance approach that provides detailed network analytics and bridges the operational gaps between physical and virtual infrastructure is paramount to help deliver premium quality of experience (QoE) to customers, and to avoid the increased operational complexities and costs that are associated with the adoption of NFV. Since the NFV market is expected to reach a value of $15.5 billion by 2020, end-to-end orchestrated service assurance provides significant opportunities to service providers attempting to keep pace with the exponential growth rate of data services. 

    The value of service assurance comes in its ability to enable service providers to optimize their service operations. Accordingly, this can be done in three ways: network impact analysis, network capacity management, and saving expenditures.

    Network Impact Analysis

    In today’s competitive market, where customers expect a high level of QoE, service providers must be able to accurately manage and understand the increasing amount of complex network data they encounter daily. A strategic service assurance approach must be implemented in order to accurately monitor network performance and provide operators with the information they need to make informed decisions. Service providers who utilize a service assurance solution, such as CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence, are able to explore real-time and historical analytics across multiple data sources to enhance fault isolation and performance management. Additionally, this level of network analysis greatly expedites troubleshooting capabilities, helping to mitigate widespread network issues.

    Network Capacity Management

    Another major value of service assurance is its ability to enable service providers to plan service upgrades efficiently. As many operators are aware, network planning and service provisioning is essential to efficiently deliver services and maximize end-user QoE. Through Exanova Service Intelligence’s detailed analytics processed , service providers are able to correlate utilization and performance data to target capacity upgrades in the areas of the network needing them most. Service providers are also able to meet market demand by accelerating service turn-up times and streamlining workflow processes. Thanks to a strategic service assurance approach, service providers are able to reduce operational costs, and most importantly, maintain customer service-level commitments. 

    Saving Expenditures

    Attempting to maximize profits amidst the relentless changes in the telecoms industry can be a challenge. However, applying a service assurance approach can aid service providers to reduce opex and capex associated with their network operations. Operators can utilize a strategic approach to limit costly network upgrades when and where increased capacity is needed, thus controlling capex spend. Service providers are able to streamline triage and mean time to repair processes and also avoid manual inventory reconciliation, which decreases opex dramatically and enhances service availability and quality. Lastly, service assurance aids Service Level Agreement (SLA) management, since service providers can maintain accurate reports of how their partner providers are performing, and hold those providers accountable to contracted service levels, thus optimizing their opex spend.

    Ultimately, the benefits of service assurance are vast, spanning operations across multiple domains, and essential to all aspects of a service provider’s network. Learn more about how CENX’s Exanova Service Intelligence can help meet all of your service assurance needs.

    Topics: Service Assurance