AUTIN: Helping you go digital

Today, over 60 percent of operators maintain a large number of isolated OSSs, a huge obstacle to evolving to digital operations. It's time for them to get smart and digital.

By Yuan Dieping, Guo Min

The first organizations to identify the opportunities afforded by digitalization and smartification weren’t traditional IT or ICT vendors – they were Internet firms like Amazon, Google, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent. Despite having the strongest infrastructures and most subscribers, telcos have been comparatively slow to get in on the act. Why?

As easy as ABC

Having developed as B2C businesses characterized by fast-changing tech, the big Internet players are stepping into enterprise and industrial markets by the ABC route: AI, big data, and cloud computing. In contrast, telcos remain constrained by complex services, siloed systems, and scattered data.

The increasing digitalization of the telecoms industry coupled with higher user expectations on services has meant that traditional operations models are struggling to keep pace and severely limiting the benefits of transformation. The telecoms industry urgently requires future-proof operations models and platforms, ones that can meet the requirements of managing current physical networks and that are suited to network architecture transformation for hybrid virtual networks.

Smart digital

The traditional telecoms industry is at a major crossroads. With the challenges brought by NFV/SDN, IoT, and 5G, current operations models are unable to support operators' strategic transformation into digital service providers. Operators have realized that they need to build new future-proof, software-defined operations models if they hope to meet the operational requirements of both existing physical networks and continually evolve hybrid and virtual network architectures of the future.

We’ve seen increasing diversification in operator services, with the proliferation of new services like video, games, and IoT. These new services have extremely demanding requirements when it comes to TTM and quality. Meanwhile, operator ICT infrastructure has grown more complex, with both traditional networks and virtualized and cloudified hybrid ICT infrastructure. With the market shifting from investment-driven to value-driven, telcos are focusing on ROI, with user experience and greater value emerging as new criteria for network evaluation.

Unlike the Internet sector, traditional telecoms operations are still manual, with operations support software based on rigid and closed software architecture. Deployed on scattered IT operation silos in each domain, these architectures make it difficult to control software change cycles and lead to delays in new service TTM. Operations personnel are forced to integrate scattered operations systems to integrate end-to-end (E2E) operations processes. As a result, the degree of automation is low, leading to longer average times for resolving resource and service failures and lower QoS. Moreover, personnel require software training, and the traditional model doesn’t suit emerging hybrid virtual infrastructures because it was developed for physical infrastructure.

The successes of companies like Amazon, Uber, and GE demonstrate that digitalization and smartification are the only ways to improve operating efficiency and maintain a company's competitiveness. Today, more than 60 percent of operators maintain a large number of isolated OSSs, a huge obstacle to evolving to digital operations. Moreover, 70 percent lack centralized data sources, while 60 percent of telco operations are black box with no E2E visibility. Change is urgently needed.

AUTIN steps in

A portmanteau of “automation” and “intelligence”, AUTIN is Huawei's digital operations service solution that's designed to consider customer business goals and help telcos carry out digital transformation.

AUTIN helps carriers to build visualized, automated, and intelligent capabilities for operations. It improves efficiency and quality through the Operation Web Services (OWS) digital operations platform, creates empowered staff through re-skilling and a change in mindset, and provides an open ecosystem to learn from other industries. Automation refers to rules based on operations standardization and summarized expert experience, with simple and recurring tasks handed over to machines. Intelligence refers to big data analysis and machine learning, which enable constant improvements and the enrichment of rules, increasing automation efficiency. Moreover, complex operations that cannot be handled manually are handed over to machines, reducing reliance on experts and enabling fault and risk prediction and prevention.

AUTIN's Digitized Operations Services solution include Operation Consulting (OC) Services and Operation Web Services. They comprise Huawei's mature operations capabilities, which are delivered as open cloud services, helping telcos transform their operations. The OC services leverage Huawei's ten-plus years of experience in operations and the successful management of over 160 networks worldwide. For customers, the service provides customized paths for transforming operations and personnel skills. It also enables the system design and integration of digital operations. Operations Web Services uses software as a service (SaaS) to provide backbone applications and APP self-development, allowing customers to quickly deploy applications.

Five main scenarios

Field operations: helps operators solve the last-mile issue for managing field operations. It provides real-time, online, and visualized status information about resources, including people, vehicles, sites, materials, and work orders. Operations managers are able to get an accurate, real-time understanding of the specific status of each link, helping them to execute command and management quickly and accurately. Intelligent analysis reports help operations managers to analyze and thus optimize service and staff efficiency in multiple dimensions, so operations can be continually refined.

NOC operations: helps operators solve low automation and high human error rates in all aspects of operations. Automated rule deployment and intelligent applications are employed in areas such as fault management, change management, and preventive maintenance. AUTIN enables automated alarm association/ compression, automated fault diagnosis and recovery, automated creation and the intelligent scheduling of work orders, change automation, and automated and accurate data logging. Replacing repetitive manual tasks with machines speeds up operations, improving operations standardization and quality.

Fixed operations – home and enterprise: helps operators solve operations issues found in FTTH networks and HFC networks for enterprise customers such as low efficiency, slow fault recovery, and the lack of unified fault management. It includes almost 20 operations for optimizing process efficiency and, by deploying automated tools, improves the efficiency of network maintenance centers and field engineers.

IT operations − billing service guarantee: helps operators solve billing service issues such as high numbers of order errors, slow issue handling, and high end-user complaint rates. Anomalous orders are reduced at the source, resulting in 10 to 30 percent fewer complaints and 10 to 50 percent higher issue detection and demarcation efficiency, which improves user satisfaction and reduces revenue losses.

Key and high-risk operations: provides a complete set of solutions to manage high-risk operations such as major cutovers, emergency recovery after major accidents, key event assurance, and post-mortem analysis. With a one-click application, the solution coordinates operations and information sharing by organizing personnel, collecting information, and enabling multi-media functionality, including screen interaction.

Three key facets of AUTIN's features

Digital platform OWS: Based on public cloud platforms (AWS and Huawei enterprise cloud), OWS can be quickly deployed, has big data and AI capabilities, and can quickly adapt to evolutions in technology and services. It provides open APIs to enable staff to develop operations applications based on service scenarios. OWS is AUTIN's foundation and enablement platform. It features all-online capabilities, full automation, real-time data analysis, and a DevOps ecosystem to support digital operations transformation. OWS's intelligent self-learning platform engine captures structured and unstructured data, analyzes this data using algorithms, provides real-time insights to operations teams, and automatically recovers live network resources.

OWS employs microservice architecture to decouple IT and services. Its unique service orchestration capabilities enable engineers who don’t have strong IT skills to flexibly develop operations applications. Personnel can then quickly and easily build and deploy service components and establish a global developer ecosystem. Our data shows that so far over 6,000 DevOps engineers have collaborated on the platform, building an open, shared developer ecosystem, developing and releasing over 900 APPs, and replicating the best practices of operators from different parts of the world.

Digital workforce: Huawei continues to build the digital capabilities of operations teams globally, enabling operations engineers to use the digital platform to develop automated operations APPs based on specific service scenarios, thereby improving operations efficiency. Huawei has also explored a set of incentivisation mechanisms to encourage operations engineers to transform into automation engineers and algorithm engineers. Huawei has also looked at creating flat agile operations teams through organizational transformation to eliminate siloes.

Digital capabilities: This involves building all-online, automated, and intelligent capabilities by employing a DevOps model. All-online is the foundation of this. First, all operations resources, activities, and data are entered into a unified online database, and current operations targets, resources, and quality are displayed as reports. This enables the visibility of operations, establishes standards, and allows for continuous improvement. With the data, automation and intelligence capabilities can be built on this foundation.

Successful examples from around the world

Digital transformation isn’t easy or quick. It involves a high level of risk and uncertainty. Most operators will need partners to provide consulting services, process re-engineering, software programming, cloud computing virtualization technology, big data architecture, and data science and machine learning skills. Huawei understands both CT and IT. We can provide specific tools based on our full understanding of operators' pain points. We can solve technical problems as well as meet business needs, and that’s why multiple operators have selected us as a partner.

In 2016 and 2017, nine subsidiaries of MTN Group deployed OWS, realizing fully online, visualized, and manageable services, and intelligent scheduling that maximizes operational efficiency. OWS has enabled lean and refined management and accelerated MTN's digital transformation.

In January 2017, Kuwait's VIVA launched a digital operations and maintenance project, deploying Huawei's OWS. VIVA then launched a number of functions including online fault management automation, change management automation, intelligent scheduling, and precision data logging. Through this, the telco achieved a 20 percent increase in operations efficiency, a 36 percent rise in network quality, and 25 percent fewer complaints. In 2017, VIVA won the 2017 Speedtest Awards and was named Kuwait's fastest mobile network.

As of March 2018, Huawei has deployed the OWS platform in over 130 networks to automate processes, including work orders for network faults and the intelligent dispatch of field maintenance engineers. To further optimize O&M, Huawei plans to automate fault management, change management, and intelligence on 34 networks this year.

Huawei's digital operations service capabilities and contributions have been widely endorsed. In 2016, Huawei won the Cloud Innovation of the Year award at the Telecoms Awards Ceremony for OWS. And in November 2017, Huawei's OWS received Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) STAR and Information Security Certification from the British Standards Institution. The certification covers solution development, delivery, operations, and APP management in Huawei's OWS cloud services, reflecting how Huawei's operations services have now received the highest international security certification.

AUTIN is an opportunity for global operators and partners to build an ecosystem that contains the latest industry advancements. This community will work together to innovate new services that will accelerate operators’ transformation journey and help them evolve into digital service providers.