Tech Insights

HPE founding member of the new ETSI ISG aiming at Zero-touch network and Service Management (ZSM)

In January, the new ETSI Zero-touch network and Service Management (ZSM) Industry Specification Group (ISG) held its kickoff meeting over 3 days in Sophia Antipolis, France. Having attended it, I wanted to share some insight about this new and important ZSM initiative, which stresses the growing need for CSPs to automate their operations to a level never achieved so far. HPE is one of the founding members of this ISG, along with major CSPs, including Deutsche Telekom, DoCoMo, NEC, NTT, Sprint and Telefonica, as well as a few vendors.

As stressed by the ISG ZSM, the challenges introduced by the disruptive deployment of new infrastructures such as 5G trigger the need to accelerate radical change in the way networks and services are managed and orchestrated. Full end-to-end automation of network and service management has become an urgent necessity. 

ISG ZSM defines a new, future-proof, horizontal and vertical end-to-end operable framework enabling agile, efficient and qualitative management and automation of emerging and future networks and services

Horizontal end-to-end refers to cross-domain, cross-technology aspects. Vertical end-to-end refers to cross-layer aspects, from the resource-oriented up to the customer-oriented layers. The goal is to have all operational processes and tasks (e.g., delivery, deployment, configuration, assurance, and optimization) executed automatically, ideally with 100% automation.

The ISG ZSM will initially focus on the 5G end-to-end network and service management (e.g. network slicing management) and will extend to include management for future network generations. The deliverables will be reports and specifications documenting use cases and requirements which are related to network and service management, and outline how emerging services such as 5G services can be supported. The ZSM group will also facilitate the coordination and cooperation between relevant standardization bodies and open source projects. 

What I found interesting in the kickoff meeting is that all the ISG ZSM members and participants had a good understanding of the potential pitfalls ahead, from their past experience in Standards Developing Organization (SDO) initiatives. This is critical, in my opinion, for beyond the challenges inherent to the goals of ZSM itself, software-centric standardization initiatives in this domain have proved particularly difficult. We have every reason to be optimistic however. I noticed a strong consensus amongst all the ZSM members on the importance of addressing Zero-touch network and Service Management with both specific and agile focus, which encourages every participant to contribute with a sense of effectiveness and urgency.

As far as HPE is concerned, we proposed as a key initial contribution an advanced concept of Intent-Based service modelling, which is designed to enable automation at the modelling level itself. Indeed, at HPE we believe that for an OSS to fully enable automation, it must be “composable”, i.e. allow CSPs to create new services based on existing, reusable, atomic services. Intent-Based service modelling brings objects, relationships and behavior, i.e. policies, into one model. In this respect, it is different from other modelling approaches such as TOSCA or YANG, for example. The key benefit of intent-based service modelling is the automation of workflows without any hard coding, dramatically reducing development time and allowing for the reuse of existing services to define new ones. To explain Intent-Based service modeling, let’s use a simple analogy: if you ask somebody to mow your lawn, you will not give the list of all the blades of grass in your yard and the length to cut for each one. Intent-based modelling emphasizes the “mow the lawn” intent. It is designed to move away from the industry-standard CLI model which focuses on “each blade of grass”. Once the description of what is needed is separated from the details about how it is implemented, then you have achieved composability, enabling agility. This is critical for the new OSS, since the introduction of hybrid and digital services increases complexity in an exponential way, especially in provisioning and runbook automation workflows. 

Andreas Krichel, Chief Architect at HPE, proposed to rely on this Intent-Based service modelling approach during the ISG ZSM kickoff meeting to achieve 100% model driven automation, versus more traditional modelling. Other vendors contributed with other means for automation, such as self-optimizing VNF and autonomous automation (RAN SON). In that context, Andreas suggested to consolidate the whole into one single ISG ZSM deliverable, named “Means of Automation”. This Work Item aims at covering the different approaches and extending today’s definitions from various other SDO and open source initiatives. The goal is to consider all those approaches to help shape the ZSM architecture.

If you are interested in getting more details on Intent-Based service modelling, do not hesitate to reach out directly to Andreas via email: 

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About the Author


Olivier has been in charge of strategic marketing at HPE, Communications and Media Solutions (CMS), since 2016. He has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications and IT industry. Olivier worked first for a System Integrator (SI) before joining a CSP as a senior manager, in charge of developing a new generation of OSS/BSS solutions. He joined the former Compaq in 2000 as a product manager for the IP network management. Since 2000, Olivier has held senior product management positions within HPE in the IT Service Management (ITSM), Business Service Management (BSM) and telecommunications business units. Olivier holds a Master's Degree in mathematics and computer science, with a major in artificial intelligence.

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