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NFV Executive Insights: The future OSS - bringing NFV & analytics together


Author:  Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Domain Business Lead, HP



analytics.pngBig data – and now NFV

Like me, you are no doubt amazed by the continuous evolution of our industry over the years, and thrilled by the fact that every two years or so, there is a new buzzword which impacts the whole telecom industry and drives new business and innovation – as well as becoming the main theme at trade shows and the like.


A few years back, “Big Data” was the new concept entering our vocabulary. Of course, big data extends way beyond telecom. The challenge of getting useful information out of very large data sets is shared by physicists, governments, advertising agencies, banks, and internet search engines, to mention just a few.


In telecommunications, the need for big data technologies is mainly a consequence of the dramatic explosion in users, devices, apps and data traffic in recent years, which has resulted in data stores that are too large or complex to process with traditional tools. At the same time, big data and analytics techniques enable us to understand individual customer experience and service usage, which is necessary to deliver superior quality and experience to customers.


The latest new concept with the greatest impact on the whole communications industry is, without a doubt, network functions virtualization (NFV). NFV provides a new way to deploy services and can transform the network to meet growing customer demands and increasing competitive pressures. The operational aspects are critical to successful NFV implementation, where ETSI’s NFV MANO plays a key role. Orchestration, however, is not a standalone function; it must be an integral part of a hybrid, NFV-ready OSS that will allow smooth transformation to NFV while operationalizing both old and new.


From what I observe, the view on the operational aspects and challenges of NFV is slowly changing. The OSS has been seen as something potentially jeopardizing the promise of NFV business benefits because of the increased complexity introduced into operations by NFV. I prefer to say that NFV should be seen as a compelling event to drive OSS transformation. And it may well turn out that the most important NFV business case can be made from the operational transformation required by NFV, i.e. enabled by the new OSS! We’ll soon see – major deployments are underway, such as the UNICA project at Telefónica, (see the press release), which will serve as an important point of reference for the telecommunications industry.


So what relationship is there between big data analytics on one hand, and NFV on the other? Well, the obvious one is that ultimately, both aim to provide the best possible experience for subscribers, thus driving loyalty. But there are several other touchpoints, which have an important impact on operations in general, and on the OSS in particular. Let me take a step back to explain this more in detail.


The “service operations factory” concept


Generally speaking, ambitious business goals and new models of organization and processes will introduce new challenges for the OSS, which in turn, will require a new OSS approach that supports higher agility and productivity. I believe the future OSS is about breaking silos and migrating to a dynamic production environment –much like a production facility, but where the offering consists of services and applications. We call this concept the service operations factory (SOF). This is a paradigm shift, combining the whole value chain (design, fulfillment and assurance), and including management and orchestration of ‘classic’ production and NFV production. This will enable the business agility required by the market, such as the ability to introduce a new service instance in minutes, not months.


In addition, the growing flood of data received from the network, further increased by the new service offerings enabled by NFV – for example, for machine to machine (M2M) or the Internet of Things (IoT) – will generate an additional impact on the OSS.


These deep industry transformations brought us to adopt the idea of the SOF and to focus on applying big data analytics capabilities to the OSS to address the required transformation. Please see our HP OSS website for more information.


Why NFV and analytics are related

The use of big data analytics technologies is even more relevant as NFV increases the complexity and volume of the network data collected. Traditional performance and fault management approaches won’t be able to cope with the complexity and dynamism introduced by NFV. In the ETSI standard, NFV and big data are unrelated. We believe, however, they can and should be combined to build the OSS of the future.


The reasons that NFV and big data analytics are relevant together include the following:

  • The intrinsic agility and increased model abstraction and automation of NFV increase the complexity of the network data collected. This complexity and variety of the data require the use of big data and analytics technologies.
  • The growing flood of data received from the network is further increased by the new service offerings enabled by NFV, increasing data volumes and the speed by which the data is created, and thus the need for analytics.
  • The implementation of a service operations factory, combining ‘classic’ production and NFV production will be greatly facilitated by the appropriate deployment of analytics capabilities.
  • Incorporating analytics directly into the OSS and NFV management and orchestration processes, enables important operational benefits:

       1.  Enhanced overall decision making in operations, and optimization of processes

       2.  Preventive actions in real time to avoid issues thanks to the estimated impact of potential problems

       3.  Move from reactive to proactive operations thanks to historical data analysis feeding predictive models
       4.  A typical OSS plus NFV analytics operations goal is moving towards 80% automated and 20% manual responses, as opposed to 20% automated and 80% manual responses today.

  • Thanks to NFV technologies and the SOF approach, the production of a service is industrialized. Combining this approach with analytics will further enhance it by providing the level of automation needed to acquire the benefits expected of NFV.
  • While quality of experience is the obvious target of combining NFV and analytics, it will also benefit several other functional areas, such as management of VNFs, classic resource and end-to-end service management, and customer management.
  • A future-proof OSS platform should include big data analytics – and must also allow a smooth transition to the hybrid virtual and non-virtualized world.


NFV and big data analytics can and should be combined to build the OSS of the future. Looking closer at big data analytics technologies, we find that their use is even more relevant for NFV since NFV increases the volume, dynamism, and complexity of the network data collected.


One characteristic of our service operations factory approach for OSS is that it drastically reduces time to market and improves end-to-end service visibility. When it’s complemented by big data analytics functionality, this approach also aligns OSS capabilities with the benefits promised by the NFV implementation in terms of cost-effectiveness and service management agility. The result is a future-ready OSS that enables transforming smoothly to the mixed virtualized and non-virtualized environment.


While NFV promises important business benefits, it will be disruptive and will introduce a new set of essential challenges to operations and the OSS. These challenges create new opportunities and make NFV a compelling event in driving OSS transformation, as management is a critical success factor for NFV introduction. In fact, the NFV operational transformation makes an important NFV business case by itself, in addition to the business benefits expected by virtualization of the infrastructure.


To summarize, our view is that the future OSS combines the service operations factory concept with

NFV-MANO and analytics capabilities to address the paradigm shift toward service-centric operations. This will offer agility, flexibility, and automation – benefits that are intrinsic to NFV, and that ultimately help service providers realize their vision, aimed at offering the best experience for their customers.


Read more about virtualizing functions with HP's Management and Orchestration here.

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