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Benefits of the integration of Control Plane with Analytics to implement NFV self-adaptive networks

It is well-known that Telecommunications Operators are facing hard challenges these days, due to the combination of Over-The-Top services competition, exponential growth of mobile traffic and increase customer’s expectations in terms of quality of services. The result is a hyper-competitive market, where the customer experience level is the key to succeed. In this scenario, Customer experience is no longer mere network function, but it involves the whole operator, from network to business, from Customer care to marketing.


A superior Customer Experience Management (CEM) implies to cover at least 3 main aspects:

  • It requires a more personalized marketing system, capable of operating on customer’s preferences, by proposing personalized offers and products.
  • It requires a very flexible and interactive Customer Care capable of answering to any question/request from the customer.
  • it requires a very flexible network and services management, where resources can be dynamically allocated based on customer’s profile but also on location, time-of-the-day, bandwidth available, device type, etc.

Software Define Network (SDN) and Network Functions virtualization (NFV) plays a crucial role in creating a network and services environement that at the same time are extremelly flexible and cost efficent. NFV and SDN introduce into the network a cloud-Like model - standard hardware, separation of logical and control plane, centrality of software for management, etc. – allowing operators to create flexible easy and cost effective networks.


It is interesting to note that to realize next generation telco network environment, a broader virtualization strategy including Control Plane function and not only Data plane ones is fundamental: the virtualization of Policy and Charging Rules Functions (PCRF) as the other Control Plane functions (Home Subscriber Server – HSS, Subscriber Data Management – SDM, On-line Charging – OSC, Mobility Management Entities - MME) is necessary to fully implement network flexibility and the services needed for a cost-effective high-level customer experience.

picture (BLOG 4.1).jpg

                                            High view of LTE architecture


Policy and other control plane elements will manage:

  • The overall quality of service (QoS) and experience (QoE), dynamically allocating network and services resources, using the full customer’s profile (billing info, location, status of the networks and applications, device type, service entitlement, etc.)
  • resource usage in real time, including bandwidth
  • Secure access, controlling if customer (in person or through a M2M) is entitled to access specific resources, services and applications in any given time and location and devices

The Control Plane virtualization is vital for 4G and LTE deployment, but it can play an important role also in 3G/2G existing infrastructures. An integrated 4G and 3G/2G virtualized control plane will allows Operators to consolidate their subscriber base in a common repository (UDR) simplifying the subscriber management across different RAN technologies.


in order to fully deploy the potential of NFV/SDN, the combination of virtual data plane and control plane is still not enought. Operators need a more powerful and advanced close loop decision systems. For example, today`s policy systems are based on static condition-action rules, where known conditions determine what and when actions should be performed. Decisions are not made on the whole network status nor on the network`s historical situation or future status predictions. Also, today`s networks are not capable of reacting to not-predefined situation.


To prevent that network’s issues (congestions, offload, social events peak traffic...) will impact subscriber’s QoE, operators need new network and service environments where policy systems will not be only based on well-known scenarios but be capable of understanding and managing unforeseen circumstances. PCRF and Control Plane elements must be coupled with a Complex Event Processing (CEP) engine capable of:


  • Real-time analysis of information from networks, systems and applications. It is important to observe that the ingestion of additional non-network related information - such as hypervisor logs, application resource usage, virtual machine resource consumption, etc. – makes decision process more coherent and robust (i.g. making decision based not only on the traffic carried but also on the whole environment status) and allows to implement automated closed-loop decision process
  • Identifying the best action for each customer’s session, using advanced analytics model and machine learning systems. i.g. new video customers can be associated to video servers not only using “network distance” but even latency, video server memory utilization and prediction of future load on that server.

Providing back the best action to the PCRF (in this scenario, the PCRF acts a close loop automated system). Analytics will be very useful to extract insights from network and cloud environments, but their main value will be in providing automatic recommendation on how to manage issues. Integrating real time and batch analytics with machine learning and recommendation engine will transform analytics in the intelligence of the networks and of the cloud environments, enabling real-time automatic close loops.


CEPs are a new paradigm to derive intelligence from event data in real time. From one side, it provides methods to define how events have to be processed and analyzed. From another side, it provides an analytic engine to aggregate, correlate and analyze events and patterns of events, producing new high-level event that can trigger an action.

Coupling CEP capabilities with Policy’s will allow Operators to deploy self-adaptive networks and cloud environments capable of automatic close loop decision process and of subscriber’s tailored services.

In summary, the combination of Analytics and Virtualized Control and Data planes allows to realize networks and services environments capable of reconfiguring themselves in order to manage high level of customer’s perceived experience within Telco`s today`s economic constraints.

Andrea Fabrizi
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." (Mark Twain)
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About the Author


I’m the Director of the Big Data and Analytics solution family for the Telecommunication market. My responsibilities include defining the strategic direction of our products, go-to-market, securing the business, manage Profit & Loss and turn around with success the Big Data Analytics in Telecommunication Industry. 20+ years of valuable experience in: building new business, strategy, delivery, partner channel, alliance, sales, marketing, product and people management in Big Data analytics and in Telecommunication

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