Digital Operations Center for service and network automation
A new breed of service orchestration and service assurance for network slicing
Why CSPs need to evolve to full service and network automation
It’s no secret that consumer value creation possibilities are almost exhausted. To remain relevant and continue to compete, it’s time for communications service providers (CSPs) to offer digital services and turn their attention to vertical markets. Manufacturing, enterprise campuses, smart cities, transportation, logistics, healthcare, and gaming hold new revenue opportunities. Connectivity is a natural entry point to these markets, ABI Research estimates an opportunity, of up to $43 billion, just for network slicing
Your biggest challenge? To realize the opportunity, and unlock the value of your network, you need to offer customer-centric and tailored slice-based services at speed while managing cost and complexity. Operability that traditional network operations approaches fail to deliver.
To support the new way of doing business and to create value for your customers driven by dynamic business needs, you need to evolve your Network Operations Center (NOC) with service and network automation.
The technical imperative for service and network automation
It’s no longer possible to manually manage, assure and operate services at scale and end-to-end over multiple domains, technologies, and vendors. The traditional network operations center (NOC) - and yesterday’s siloed and technology-focused tools and processes - cannot operate the dynamic networks and services of the future.
To support network slicing based services on complex networks, cost-efficiently and at scale - and access the $43 billion opportunity - the operations support system (OSS) and networks themselves need to evolve so CSPs can unlock the value of the network.
Simplification from technology to business focus is required and service and network automation needs to be based on business intent and contracted SLAs.
Introducing a new and comprehensive approach for integrated, end-to-end service lifecycle management
To expose the rich capabilities of your network as consumable services for your customers - and to do this at scale - requires numerous activities like service orchestration, service operations and service assurance. Although these activities are intrinsically related, they have traditionally been separated at the process level and at the tooling level. Going forward, you need to bring these steps together into a single, integrated round-trip set of processes to achieve scale and cost efficiencies.
Our industry refers to this as "managing the service lifecycle" and it has never been more important that these steps within the lifecycle are tightly integrated. We see two important developments that can be leveraged:
- Virtualization techniques have made 5G-era networks much more complex and as we move toward more disaggregated architectures, this complexity will continue. But these virtualized networks and disaggregated architectures are software- driven and therefore programmable.
- This programmability is what enables automation. And automated service lifecycle management is the mandate for successful cost efficiencies at scale in the 5G era
We see this as a stepwise evolution, not a “big-bang” that needs to happen all at once. We visualize this below. The traditionally separated OSS fulfillment and OSS service assurance processes move from left to right over time to eventually become fully integrated with the addition of service orchestration capabilities. We see steps along the way that deliver tactical returns while supporting the left-to-right movement are proving to be a successful strategy within the marketplace.
Understanding customer-centric automated operations
As we move toward this integrated service lifecycle approach, the atomic functions for service orchestration and service assurance based upon a common data model become integrated steps in a single round-trip.
What is service orchestration?
Service orchestration sets the policies and methods for connections made through the network and delivers the commercial services and their related Service Level Agreement (SLA) assurances.
In 5G-era networks, service orchestration needs to be intent-based to enable your clients to request digital services and network slices in business terms to reduce friction in B2B commerce.
The service orchestration system sits between the commercial layer at top and the underlying network beneath. It abstracts the network complexity to expose capabilities in business terms. It provides the interface to the service order management process and it choreographs the construction of services across the network domains. This provides the interface to network orchestration systems that carry out the necessary steps within the respective network domains to support the end-to-end services.
5G-era networks are increasingly complex, and this automated flow between the service orchestrator and the underlying network orchestrators is necessary to ensure accuracy, consistency and pace of managing the service lifecycle at scale.
What is service assurance?
Service assurance manages the adherence to criteria that have been set for the networks and services. These include:
- External criteria such as SLAs that bind the CSP to agreed commercial terms with their customers
- Internal criteria such as performance, availability, and reliability that the CSP has set for itself to meet
These external and internal criteria are defined within the service assurance system to set the measurement benchmarks based on business intent. Modern service assurance systems share common modeling and policies that are set during the service design phase to ensure the ability to meet the requirements.
To support the complexity of 5G-era networks, the network and service assurance processes must seamlessly interoperate. This is necessary to ensure the hierarchical alignment of the network layer, the service layer and the customer layer in order to set operational prioritizations.
Why is unified inventory critical for network automation?
For CSPs to achieve service and network automation, there must be a trust and reliance upon data including the currency of the data in near real-time.
According to Appledore Research, with evolved virtualized and containerized networks, there are hundred-fold increases in operational actions and the round-trip process to design, deploy and assure services must be automated to work at scale. This begins with the discovery and reconciliation of services and the resources that comprise the services and the constant near real-time synchronization with these.
The logical inventory must be based upon modern processing techniques to ensure the read/write refresh rates that guarantee data confidence can be trusted to base automated actions upon.
A unified inventory capability therefore provides a common data plane that is the foundation for automated service orchestration and service assurance functions.
Service orchestration and service assurance for network slicing use cases
Network slicing is an important technological development that CSPs look to capitalize on. It provides a way to offer differentiated services with guaranteed quality of service across common network infrastructure. This is much more efficient than previous techniques to “nail up” or dedicate infrastructure resources to support differentiated service requirements.
Various industry organizations have contributed toward standards that ensure that CSPs can avoid vendor and technology lock-in as they architect their approach to network slicing.
CSPs will not employ network slicing for all services they offer. But for those services that they do, CSPs will need to automate the process to design, deploy and assure network slices to be cost effective and ensure they meet contracted SLAs. The complexity and dynamic nature of network slice-based services is far too complex to leave to manual operations.
Further, CSPs need to be able to abstract the network complexity, and expose the network slices to the market, in order to let business customers flexibly and easily subscribe to a slice, configure the SLAs based on the needs of their customers in support of new business models (B2B2x).
Network slicing – originally a 5G mobile networking concept -- has extended beyond that scope. Effective network slicing operations platforms must enable CSPs to leverage all their network infrastructure investments across the various domains of access, transport, core and cloud.
One important example of the evolving scope of network slicing is the concept of 4G/5G network slicing. Nokia introduced this technical innovation in early 2020 as a way for CSPs to begin their adoption of network slicing with their existing broad coverage of 4G networks while they ramp-up their 5G deployments. Other examples of the extending scope of network slicing include things like Fixed Wireless Access services and transport networks as services.
Changing how business does business is likely the greatest benefit that 5G can bring. Karl Whitelock reveals how working through the operational details of 4G/5G network slicing today can prepare CSPs better to provide full 5G SA network slices "at scale" in the future.
Read the blog by Karl Whitelock.
Nokia Digital Operations Center for service orchestration and service assurance
Nokia’s award-winning Digital Operations Center is a modular solution comprised of Orchestration Center and Assurance Center leveraging a common Unified Inventory. It’s this combination that gives you the ability to manage the entire service lifecycle by designing, delivering, and assuring digital services and 5G slicing at scale and speed.
The Digital Operations Center is a solution that can be used in a fully automated, round-trip, closed-loop mode but it also has a rich user-interface layer for manual activities. This is important to enable gradual development, testing and use of automated steps as required by each respective deployment.
It’s a fully cloud-native platform that is built to support multi-vendor, multi-domain, and multi-technology environments across any cloud deployment model. Per its role within the CSP eco-system, Digital Operations Center supports numerous standards where and as they apply to include TMF, ETSI, MEF, 3GPP, BBF, ONF and IETF.
The Digital Operations Center’s primary role within the CSP eco-system is to:
- Manage the full end-to-end service lifecycle to include the design, deployment, and assurance of services to meet contractual Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Abstract the complexity of the underlying network to expose its capabilities northbound to commercial/business support systems on an intent-based level
- Provide southbound interface and oversight to network layer systems so they can support the design, deployment, and end-to-end service assurance.
By closing the loop between traditionally separate service orchestration and service assurance processes, you can intelligently manage the full-service lifecycle to drive the most optimized use of infrastructure resources, limit overprovisioning, control fault management, enable network automation, service automation and service optimization.
Nokia Orchestration Center for service orchestration
Nokia Orchestration Center provides end-to-end network and service orchestration capabilities, including network slicing enabled services, in a cross-domain, multi-vendor and multi-technology environment.
The cloud-native microservices-based system is an ingredient in the Nokia Digital Operations Center to enable round-trip operations and network automation.
- Design and deploy new market driven digital services based on business-intent quickly and efficiently
- Together with service orchestration and network automation, this leads to significant reductions in the time-to-value for new services.
Find out more about Nokia Orchestration Center
Nokia Assurance Center for service assurance
The Nokia Assurance Center is a multi-vendor, multi-technology and multi-domain system that provides a unified network and service assurance platform across traditionally separate and disparate systems and domain silos.
The system is an ingredient in Nokia’s Digital Operations Center to enable round-trip operations and network automation based on business intent.
The Assurance Center delivers a modern microservices and cloud-native based approach in a modular format. As a part of Nokia’s broader operations portfolio, it can deliver tangible business benefits with real-world projects now and each of these projects can contribute to the evolution to a 5G era operations paradigm.
Unified Inventory for service orchestration and service assurance
Unified Inventory is a module of Nokia’s Digital Operations Center. It provides the discovery, reconciliation and ongoing upkeep synchronization of network and service assets in near real-time.
The GraphDB-based Unified Inventory is essential to the operation of both service orchestration and service assurance functions. In a scenario where Orchestration Center and Assurance Center are deployed together, the Unified Inventory is common to both applications. This ensures that a common data plane is used for both.
This enables faster acceptance of data integrity which in turn drives the adoption of network automation actions.
Why choose Digital Operations software for service orchestration and service assurance?
How the Nokia Digital Operations Center helps you to tap into the 5G opportunity and to unlock the value of your network
Control total cost of ownership
- Reduce expenditures and control costs with closed-loop automated service operations that natively integrate service orchestration and service assurance functions.
Deploy on any cloud
- Adapt to future business opportunities by utilizing the integrated development environment, cloud-native microservices and containerized architecture.
Benefit from openness
- Leverage key standards and open source projects for service and network automation such as TMForum, ETSI, MEF, 3GPP, BBF, ONF and IETF.
Get to market faster
- Design, deploy and assure tailored services cost-efficiently and at scale.
- Benefit from browser-based user interfaces designed per user role
- Access an extensive library of service templates, policies, network automation workflows and multi-vendor integrations.
Enable new business opportunities
- Replace siloed, technology-focused processes that cannot cope with sliced-network demands.
- Access new verticals and leverage the 5G opportunity.
- Realize 4G/5G network slicing opportunities and support billions of 4G devices today.
Adhere to service level agreements
- Include automated business policies and SLA assurance with a common service model across service orchestration and service assurance.
- Enable design-optimized business decision-making.
- Expand into new, vertical industries with confidence.
Business benefits of service and network automation
Tickets solved in close-loop with reduced errors and lower costs
Customer case studies for service and network automation
Telenor & 5G VINNI: Proving the potential of network slicing with zero-touch service orchestration
SPTel, Singapore: Faster go-to-market for 5G services with network automation and service orchestration
Lightstorm, India: Enabling digital value chain offerings with a new NaaS architecture
Launch on-demand services rapidly to the market with automated operations. Need for a future ready, hyper-elastic environment with ease of operations based on new Network-as-a-Service architectureExplore the Lightstorm case study
Explore our Digital Operations software portfolio
Learn more about service and network automation
- FutureNet World | Awards 2021
- Nokia’s Digital Operations Center software wins Fierce Innovation Award
- Overcoming the operational challenges of 4G and 5G slicing at scale
- Think you need to wait for 5G to do network slicing? Think again.
- Nokia Digital Operations Center overview
- Nokia Digital Operations software to support 4G/5G network slicing
Customer in-depth case studies
- Telenor & 5G VINNI: Proving the potential of 5G innovation
- Analysys Mason study on SPTel: Harnessing the power of software-defined networking to automate operations and disrupt the B2B services market
- Capturing new enterprise opportunities with the Digital Operations Center
Customer success stories
- Nokia to help transform PLDT and Smart’s nationwide network and standardize virtualization environment
- ÖBB, A1 Austria and Nokia are piloting network slicing in the existing A1 network
- Singtel and Nokia to trial 5G network slicing capabilities
- Move from network operations center (NOC) to SOC - O2 Customer Testimonial
- Orange and Nokia deploy the first Industry 4.0 4G/5G private network with network slicing in French factory
- Future of operations video series
- Introducing Digital Operations Center from Nokia
- Digital Operations Center - Nokia Expert Interview