The Physical Reality of the Virtual World

Network slicing can only become viable with highly efficient, scalable OSS that allows for repeatable, dynamic resource allocation.

SD-WAN and virtual deployments

SD-WAN technology brings the benefits of virtualization to business customers. It enables operators to deliver new, more flexible managed services, often with additional capabilities, such as application awareness and traffic shaping. 

While the services and policies are delivered virtually, they are enabled across physical connections, including routers, servers, end-devices and the like. To correctly provision such services, the location of all physical elements required to support service delivery must be known. This applies to both delivery to a new customer and changes in service performance for an existing SD-WAN location.

As such, correlation between physical, virtual and logical resource inventory and assets must be achieved, so that service changes and new service activation can be applied quickly and effectively—without service disruption.

RAN virtualization

Just like the next-generation core network, the new RAN elements of mobile infrastructure are virtualized. This allows more flexible allocation of resources, dynamic scalability and reduced energy consumption. This is critical, as the new mobile network demands a significantly (>10x) expanded access point footprint.

Importantly, there is already increased diversity in terms of radio assets, as operators supplement classical base stations with small cells, micro cells and Wi-Fi hotspot coverage.

o the miTo achieve the desired dynamic coverage, operators must understand what physical resources are available, where they are, and be aware of any constraints they impose on capacity. Adding network slicing—which dedicates specific network resources to a specific customer or user—complicates the situation further.

Many operators expect the majority of 5G revenues to accrue from business customers, so the ability to deliver the desired service is essential to future success. This cannot be achieved without a comprehensive and dynamically adaptable view of inventory. The reality is that network slicing can only become viable with highly efficient, scalable OSS that allows for repeatable, dynamic resource allocation.

Network Extension

Many operators are extending their fiber footprint and other connectivity options through overhead, underground or other operations. Each time they do so, they must ensure alignment with the existing network as well as effective recording of each new asset, so that it can be assigned correctly when activated.

This requires the ability to maintain and grow an up-to-date inventory of all resources so they can be correlated with the services delivered across the infrastructure. As services are activated, the associated resources must be logged and, when the service changes, they need to be reallocated appropriately.


Service delivery involves a complex chain of resources, which must be coordinated carefully to ensure that promised capabilities are delivered to customers. Although networks are steadily moving toward a fully virtualized architecture, physical infrastructure remains of critical importance. Virtualization tears apart traditional models. As such, it is essential for operators to be able to understand and correlate physical, logical and virtual resources in order to deliver and manage the services they offer. 

Network inventory is a dynamic, constantly evolving challenge and requires continuous management. The advent of 5G and SD-WAN technologies complicates matters further, as this extends virtualization into the last mile and even into customer premises. To be successful, operators must ensure that they have a complete, end-to-end picture of inventory, across all classes of assets.


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