Three Key Issues with Integrating SDN/NFV and How Service Providers Can Solve Them

Just as the networks won’t be turned from physical to virtual with the flick of a switch, OSS transition will also happen gradually which will, at times, be painful for providers.

Just as the networks won’t be turned from physical to virtual with the flick of a switch, OSS transition will also happen gradually which will, at times, be painful for providers. We’ve pinpointed three key areas that providers will continue to struggle with as networks become increasingly virtualized:

1) Cross-domain Orchestration. Orchestration is not new, but the new hybrid nature of today’s emerging service provider networks is making it more complicated. Typically, orchestrators focus on their own contained domain—such as IP VPNs or content delivery networks (CDNs)—and that single-domain focus means they work incredibly well. 

But thinking about the wealth of legacy and new service domains that providers support makes it easy to understand that orchestrating across domains is incredibly complex and, in fact, the problem has not been resolved—there is no master orchestrator of orchestrators capability built into a single piece of software with a network-wide, end-to-end view.

Given how quickly innovation is occurring, never say never, but how the industry will achieve orchestration with domains across the entire network is not yet understood. Bring in the added complexity of multi-vendor networks, each with their own orchestration systems that need to communicate with each other, and the mystery of how this will be achieved deepens.

One answer might have come from the MEF, which is developing LSO (Lifecycle Services Orchestration) specifications with open APIs to automate the end-to-end lifecycle for services orchestrated across multiple provider networks, as well as multiple technology domains within a provider network. According to MEF, “LSO enables service providers to transition from a silo-structured BSS/OSS approach towards flexible end-to-end orchestration within SDN/NFV networks. Standardized LSO APIs are critical for enabling agile, assured and orchestrated services over automated, virtualized, and interconnected networks worldwide.”

2) Integration with B/OSS and existing infrastructure. SDN and NFV will not reach their potential value until OSS and BSS systems are aligned with the new technologies. According to a report from the Open Networking Foundation, with SDN and NFV, “a service can be turned up or torn down quickly, but until provisioning, configuration, billing and fault management are automated, dynamic, and intelligent, SDN and NFV cannot be fully leveraged.”

Analyst firm Analysys Mason called for the need for an end-to-end functional architecture that pulls together NFV management and orchestration (MANO) and OSS. According to Analysys Mason, “the success of CSPs in the digital economy depends on them deploying a network architecture that can dynamically and holistically manage physical and virtual resources to support service innovation at scale." This calls for a virtual next-generation network OSS (vNGN-OSS) that has several key requirements for managing multi-vendor hybrid network environments:

  • A single Service Orchestration Manager (SOM) product to support multi-domain service orchestration
  • Service orchestration supports fulfillment and assurance 
  • Resource Order Management evolves to perform network orchestration
  • Centralized policy management and enforcement
  • Dynamic inventory management
    - Real-time visibility into the network and IT
    - Comprehensive model that maps customers to products, services, virtual resources (VNFs, VIMs) and physical resources (CPU, storage, network)
  • Ease of configuration
    - Common set of configuration tools and IT products
    - Adoption of a Master Enterprise Catalog - B/OSS, Network, IT
  • High level of automation
  • Use of Big Data Analytics to:
    - Improve customer experience
    - Improve network utilization
    - Increase profitability


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