Density and virtualization will both pose significant challenges for managing the telco network, involving huge numbers of cells, and many virtualized components which can be scaled up and down dynamically. Automation is the key, and some progress has already been made by the SON (self-optimizing network) industry. Now a group of operators and vendors want to accelerate progress with the ‘Zero Touch NSM’ (Network and Service Management) project.
The operators spearheading the effort are Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile and Telefonica, which believe automation will be critical to the success of 5G. However, some results of their three-month project, running from March to June, will be relevant to 4G network transformation too. The aim is to provide a practical blueprint for how to deploy automated NSM in the run-up to 5G.
The vendors joining the trio of MNOs are Amdocs, Ciena, Dell EMC, Ericsson, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Infosim, NEC/Netcracker, Nokia, Orchestral Networks and Viavi Solutions.
“Automation is the future of network management,” said Kim Kyllesbech Larsen, SVP of technology, economics and transformation at Deutsche Telekom, in a statement. “As an industry, it is essential that we come together to find a solution to the issues that are hindering the automation of operations and network and service management functionalities.”
To reach the full potential of virtualization and software-defined networking (SDN) – including applications in edge computing, low latency services and artificial intelligence – the participants believe automated NSM is essential, and that “the coming introduction of 5G further raises the stakes”, as does the massive number of devices and access points expected to be involved in the Internet of Things.
One of the key enablers for zero touch NSM will be a common information model, harmonized across different standards organizations in the network operations field, such as TM Forum, Open Networking Forum, Metro Ethernet Forum and others. The new NSM initiative will tie into a related effort, to analyze and resolve the challenges associated with a Common Information Model.
“The evolution of network and control technology will enable more flexibility in service creation, capacity and change management as well as more efficient network operations. This also adds more complexity to networks, particularly in the area of NSM. To offset this complexity, our industry needs to ensure all NSM functions are based on open standardized solutions,” said Arash Ashouriha, SVP of group OSS strategy and architecture at Deutsche Telekom.