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Next-gen OSS: Unleashing network potential

May 01, 2015 By Guan Min & Li Xiaojun

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A next-generation operational support system (OSS) must be the core telco network platform for digital services, one that is real-time, automated, intelligent, and open. It will be thus an enabler of business transformation, while providing customers with superior services, and enhanced revenue in the digital economy.

With the broad application of ICT technologies and the popularization of the Internet, all traditional media have gone digital, with verticals such as transportation, healthcare, automobiles, education, and finance now joining the game. User behavior has changed dramatically in the digital era, as consumers expect everything to be ROADS (real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY, and social). For example, they want real-time video conferencing, bandwidth on demand, access to all content & services online, customizability for everything, and to be able to share those things via social networking (SNS).

Expectations of next-gen OSS

As user behavior changes, so must business. Telcos must shift their focus from “size” (performance, capacity, and cost) to "speed" (agility in service innovation/provision, response to customers, and network troubleshooting), with this helping drive the move towards software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). So how can telcos adapt themselves to the new industry ecosystem? How can they cut costs and improve service agility? How can they do to unleash their network potential? And how can they increase revenue? As an Infrastructure Enabling System (IES), next-gen OSS must have the following capabilities.

Real-time, on-demand, E2E service & resource orchestration

Physical and virtual networks will coexist for a long time. The service orchestrator is the key to rapid service deployment. It controls the physical and virtual networks from end to end and orchestrates network functions based on service requirements. Thus, it orchestrates E2E network function resources in real time, coordinates DCs and virtual/physical networks in different geographical locations, and supports the planning, design, optimization, automated provision, and configuration of ICT services.

Zero-touch service assurance that enables elastic scale-in & scale-out

A traditional OSS has independent service fulfillment and service assurance systems, with service assurance mostly event-driven. Alarms trigger fault management, for example. But a next-generation IES will be intelligent, with service assurance analysis-driven rather than event-driven. Said analysis will be in real time, and involve SLAs and KPIs/KQIs on a per-service per-user (PSPU) basis. Combined with Big Data analysis offline (network capacity forecasts, index trend analysis, etc.), active service assurance will be enabled. Service assurance and service fulfillment will also be streamlined, with service assurance triggering service fulfillment so that elastic scale in and scale out, flexible scheduling, dynamic service optimization and issue closure are all realized. For example, the service orchestrator can be automatically triggered based on the SLA and performance indicators of enterprise users, scheduling resources (bandwidth, QoS) to satisfy their SLA needs and "self-heal" services dynamically.

Open APIs that boost telco revenue

As the ICT industry becomes increasingly open and carriers shift from competition to cooperation with OTTs, OSS capacity will emerge as a new resource for third-parties. By opening APIs to these parties (OSS-as-a-service), telcos can meet customer needs more flexibly, and thus boost their own utility (and therefore profit). From the perspective of the industry chain, open APIs can bring and hold partners together, and help establish a less linear and more networked ecosystem.

A developer ecosystem (app factory)

Telcos should create IES app factories that leverage their newfound system architecture flexibility to provide a graphic development studio pre-installed with templates, views, and tools. Developers can orchestrate visually, and process multi-source APIs and data. The design, development, coding, packaging, and release processes will all be pre-installed, with DevOps supported to accelerate the app creation process. Developers can develop and release apps through an app factory in a quick DIY manner. Such a factory will be scalable and powerful, and will support single-point applications such as capacity planning and management of LTE services that enable on-demand service provision and issue closure management, as well as business model applications. For example, telcos can develop special DC apps for bank customers related to data analysis.

Pioneering IES in Europe

In 2012, Huawei launched its network architecture development strategy for the next decade – SoftCOM. This open telecom network architecture blueprint includes IES, under the Telco OS concept. Centered on a ROADS user experience, IES will become the front-end service system and a customer-oriented product and solution development platform that aggregates carrier resources, including third-party resources. It will also open network capabilities, and build an industry ecosystem. It will also bring automation and intelligence to the network, thus greatly simplifying network O&M.

In 2014, Huawei collaborated with leading European carriers to participate in their NFV laboratory innovation projects. In addition to NFV testing, Huawei also verified the efficacy of the service orchestrator, through scenarios that included NFV network design and planning, VoLTE (vIMS, vEPC) service provision and orchestration, GiLAN service deployment and orchestration, and the deployment of small and medium enterprise (SME) applications.

In the near future, the next-generation of OSS (IES) will help telcos transform their businesses through its real-time, automated, intelligent, and open capabilities, enabling telcos to provide better services, and boost revenues in the digital economy.

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