Network virtualization is very much a part of the LTE saga going forward, and that means cellcos are going to need a far more agile OSS than they have now. Justin Paul, head of Network PBU marketing at Amdocs, explains why.
LTE Insights: What impact is the paradigm shift of SDN and NFV having on OSS?
Justin Paul: The impact of SDN and NFV on operational support systems is considerable. These technologies are forcing a rapid evolution of OSS from non-real-time, off-line systems, to real-time, or near-real-time, dynamic systems designed to support these dynamic, rapidly changing networks.
LTE Insights October 2015
Basically, if the OSS systems of today are not enhanced or augmented in some way, they will not be fit-for-purpose in the networks of the future. Furthermore, the inability to operationalize SDN and NFV will impact the ability of service providers to monetize these technologies and unlock the benefits.
How should OSS evolve to be able to deliver the predicted benefits of NFV and SDN?
We have a very clear view of how OSS needs to evolve to support SDN and NFV, but also to support some of the other changes we are seeing within the industry. We call this “Agile OSS”.
To achieve this, there are five key components or capabilities that need to be added to existing OSS capabilities. These are NFV orchestration; cross-domain orchestration; automated service design and creation; live or real-time network, topology and service visualization; and network and customer service configuration. We see this as a gradual evolution with these capabilities being added to the OSS over the next two to three years to address the emerging operational challenges.
Because the service provider networks of the future will be hybrid - composed of both physical network elements and virtual network functions - for at least ten years, a lot of the existing OSS functionality for operational management of the physical network elements is required as well. This is why Agile OSS is about the enhancement and augmentation of the systems used to manage the existing networks of today, which will become the legacy networks of tomorrow.
What technology solutions are available now, and what’s in the pipeline?
We have been investing heavily in the development of solutions to deliver these capabilities. Last year we launched our NFV orchestration capability, and earlier this year we launched our cross-domain service orchestration capability. Shortly we’ll be making an announcement about our automated service design and creation capability. The time and resource cost for new service development is extremely high today, and this is a barrier to service agility and innovation. Our new service design and creation capability provides the ability to automate the service design, and, more importantly, test and de-bug aspects of service development driving down costs to the point where it is no longer a barrier to innovation.
What are the main challenges operators face in implementing this?
There are two main challenges facing operators looking to implement SDN and NFV. The first is simple: money. Service providers will have to invest in their operational support systems if they want to utilize and more importantly monetize NFV and SDN. The OSS systems today were never designed to manage dynamic, virtual networks, and to support those networks you need to invest in new capabilities.
The second challenge is more complex, and relates to the organizational impact of SDN and NFV on the service provider. Most service providers today are focused on the challenges of virtualization of their physical network, and this activity is being driven by the network engineering organization. Operation and orchestration of NFV networks is typically managed by the OSS/IT organizations. Both NFV and SDN drive convergence between the network and IT domains. In many cases, to actually monetize the benefits of NFV/SDN will also require convergence of the network and IT organizations under a CTIO function. Organizational change has the potential to be more disruptive than simple technological change.
This article was first published in Telecom Asia LTE Insights October edition