SDN and NFV both promise hardware vendor independence, improved operational efficiency, standardized and open interfaces and the dynamic chaining of network functions to create new services. Though there is no doubt that initiatives such as SDN and NFV promise a lot of benefits and have the potential to bring major capex and opex benefits for operators, they come with their own sets of challenges.
Key among these challenges is service management. Service management solutions will need to traverse and manage a complex, hybrid services world, involving a combination of virtualized and non-virtualized network resources. For end-to-end service management, operators need a unified service management solution that can orchestrate and manage virtualized and non-virtualized services seamlessly.
That’s why an end-to-end orchestrator layer is a critical component of next-gen service management solutions that needs to manage and orchestrate both virtualized and non-virtualized network functions.
Service activation and configuration management systems must be closely aligned to maintain integrity between service configuration and device configuration in order to avoid network inconsistency and minimize order fallout. Real-time dynamic service chaining of virtualized and non-virtualized network functions need to be part of a next-generation service management solution. Next-generation service management platforms need to borrow principles of self-organizing networks (SON) and have self-healing capability to proactively take care of device constraints or provisioning issues based on service quality before the issues impact the customer experience.
The dynamism of a next-generation hybrid virtualized service world demands self-monitoring for anomalous events in the network and the ability to diagnose and fix those issues dynamically. This enables load balancing and optimizes network resources as well, which provides economic benefits to service providers.
Next-generation service management platforms should be able to arm service providers with the ability to pre-empt service degradation by constantly monitoring, measuring and maintaining their service metrics in real time. In the context of hybrid services, it is not just about service fulfillment or service assurance; it is about holistic service management, where service fulfillment and service assurance must be closely aligned with each other. We believe that end-to-end service lifecycle management can only be achieved by close alignment of device configuration, service fulfillment, service assurance, end-to-end orchestration layer and centralized catalog.