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Reduce optical service fulfillment times from weeks to minutes with network automation

Reduce optical service fulfillment times from weeks to minutes with network automation

Cloud access and the rise of edge data centers are driving unprecedented demand for optical network services. The inherent strengths of optical connectivity services – high bandwidth, high availability and ultra-low latency – make them an ideal choice for addressing these applications.

As mentioned in the previous post in this blog series, all of this creates an opportunity for service providers to offer optical NaaS to businesses that need optical connectivity but don’t want to run an optical network. Service providers that want to capitalize on this opportunity are already transforming their service delivery models so that they can:

  • Offer subscribers a differentiated bandwidth-on-demand experience
  • Improve service velocity and decrease operating costs through service automation
  • Enable internal business units and external partners to resell optical connectivity

Achieving this type of transformation is difficult in any networking domain. It is all the more challenging for optical network services, which frequently have prolonged service delivery times (often weeks in duration) and rely on predominantly manual business processes for service order management, connectivity provisioning and service assurance.

Why does it take weeks to process optical service orders?

With existing business processes and systems, it can take a service provider many days or even weeks to provision, activate and start billing a subscriber for a new optical connectivity service. This long interval is typically caused by the reliance on manual processes, which makes it very challenging to bring new optical connectivity services to market – and virtually impossible to scale these services cost effectively.

So why on earth does it take weeks to fulfill an optical service today? Haven’t SDN controllers already solved this problem? By examining the steps involved in a typical service provider’s business process, we can see why fulfillment can be so slow.

A closer look at the PMO for optical service delivery

For many large service providers, the present mode of operation (PMO) for delivering a new optical connectivity service to subscribers (or tenants of the optical network) often involves several organizations and many manual steps, as shown in the illustration below.

Figure 1: Manual steps for optical connectivity service delivery

Figure 1: Manual steps for optical connectivity service delivery

For example, the business operations team needs to manually model the service definition, advertise to prospective subscribers and extend customer relationship management (CRM) systems and business support systems (BSS) to model the service. The team needs to extend the service provider's order management and billing systems to process subscribers’ orders for the new service.

When the subscriber orders the service, the network operations team needs to assign optical equipment, compute a route that fits the defined service-level agreement (SLA), and then provision and activate the connection in the network.

Finally, the services operations team needs to correlate network key performance indicators (KPIs) to the service for SLA conformance tracking, update BSS inventory systems and track ongoing service performance.

Service providers typically perform most of these operations manually, which results in long order-to-service-revenue intervals even when all the steps in the process succeed. Further delays arise when steps cycle among the business, network and service teams. For instance, a service provider may have to restart the entire fulfillment process if the network operations team assigns a network connectivity route that does not match the SLA intent of the service or the service parameters specified in the subscriber order. The net result is often weeks-long service delivery times.

What if optical connectivity services could be fulfilled in minutes?

Nokia WaveSuite Service Enablement makes it easy for service providers to address these challenges by:

  • Abstracting service definitions
  • Automating service orchestration and network connectivity fulfillment
  • Supporting unique service virtualization techniques for optical network connectivity that have awareness of the business relationships between the service provider, reseller/wholesale business partners and end subscribers

Figure 2: WaveSuite Service Enablement service abstraction model

Figure 2: WaveSuite Service Enablement service abstraction model

WaveSuite reduces optical connectivity service delivery times from weeks to minutes by using these unique capabilities to enable full lifecycle automation across business, network and service operations. Let's take a closer look at how it simplifies and accelerates the manual, multi-team fulfillment approach described above.

Figure 3: Automating the steps for optical service delivery using WaveSuite Service Enablement

Figure 3: Automating the steps for optical service delivery using WaveSuite Service Enablement

Service advertisement

The service provider starts the process by deciding which service definition and SLA criteria to use for the service. WaveSuite then uses unique techniques to virtualize the definition and SLA criteria and instantly advertise it to prospective subscribers (or reseller partners) through an automated, on-demand service portal. The service provider can easily tailor the service definition and the locations at which the service is offered to meet subscribers’ needs.

Service order orchestration

A subscriber can order the service by using the portal to select a service specification, a location and special constraints such as the minimum required end-to-end latency. WaveSuite automatically orchestrates the order from service provider validation and review through subsequent service implementation in the network.

Resource management

The most challenging aspect of automating service delivery is assigning the appropriate network resources. The equipment and port assignments must match the desired service type and rate, and the end-to-end service path must be computed so that it deterministically implements the desired SLA intent. For example, a premium service that is sold as fully route diverse and protected must be routed so that each leg of the service is transported over non-intersecting equipment and fiber links. A service with strict latency requirements, such as in a 5G transport scenario, must be assigned a network path that meets a maximum permitted threshold for end-to-end service latency.

The path computation engine within WaveSuite is fully aware of these types of service-level requirements. It can deterministically automate service path assignment based on unique optical domain-aware algorithms. WaveSuite then coordinates the provisioning and activation of the network connection through automated interactions with the underlying SDN controller using a standard TAPI interface.

Service inventory and assurance

Once network connectivity is provisioned for the service, WaveSuite discovers the network connection from the SDN controller and updates its multi-tenanted service inventory view. Unlike other orchestration solutions, WaveSuite maintains an event-based, fully synchronized view of resource assignments to ensure that ongoing changes to the network do not disrupt service order processing. This view shows the service inventory and underlying connectivity for all network tenants, including the service slicing capabilities used by each subscriber.

As the final step in the automation journey, WaveSuite starts ongoing assurance monitoring for the service and hands off the completed service to the subscriber. Integrated service-level assurance capabilities automate the process of aggregating network KPIs into service-level performance summaries for critical SLA indicators such as service availability, service utilization and service latency.

A new FMO for optical service delivery

For the service provider, the net result of using WaveSuite is a fully automated service delivery process that provides a transformative reduction in OPEX. For the service provider's subscribers, the net result is a transformative, bandwidth-on-demand user experience that provides best-in-class service delivery times that were previously unachievable for optical connectivity.

In our next blog post, we'll explore how optical network operators can realize their automation strategies using the Nokia WaveHub value-driven ecosystem and Nokia WavePrime professional services.


Learn more

Blog series: Automating optical networks for success
Product: WaveSuite
Solutions: Insight-driven optical networks
Video: WaveSuite Service Enablement: Automate and accelerate the delivery of optical services
Application note: WaveSuite Service Enablement: A new service view for optical networks
Application note: Insight-driven optical networks: Automating networks with innovative business and network insights
Data sheet: WaveSuite Service Enablement

James Doucette

About James Doucette

James is a product line manager for WaveSuite applications within Nokia's optical networks organization. James has over 30 years of software experience in the telecom industry with roles ranging from product management to agile product ownership, systems architecture and software development. He has specialized throughout his career in launching new software initiatives that simplify network and service operations of optical and packet networks. James holds a degree in Systems and Computer Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

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