Wednesday, 4 February 2015


Service agility is the key strategic benefit of network virtualisation. It results in an increase in revenues from new services, accelerates the time to market and provides capex and opex savings. In addition, cost optimisation is an implicit benefit of increased service agility.
Operation support systems(OSS) are emerging as key enablers for achieving service agility, operational flexibility and optimisation of costs. To increase service agility and service fulfillment, operators are focusing on OSS functions such as order management, inventory management, activation and provisioning, and planning and optimisation. Software-defined networking (SDN) trials and use cases generally target traffic control and management, with increased emphasis on service-assurance OSS functions. Currently, network functions virtualisation (NFV) and SDN trials are being conducted by service providers to deliver existing services through traditional physical networks. The existing OSS can support network virtualisation by abstracting control of the virtual infrastructure through virtual network function (VNF) managers, NFV orchestrators (NFVOs) and SDN controllers, while preserving the current OSS processes and operations.
However, for maximum benefit, service providers expect vendors to develop new, mature virtualised next-generation networks (vNGN) OSS, which will orchestrate and manage physical and virtual network resources for both existing and new services, continually reduce the complexity, development and maintenance costs of service providers’ OSS; lower the time and cost of integration through open interfaces, and hardware and software interoperability standards; provide near-real-time view and control of operations with policy-controlled automation and analytics; encompass delivery and lifecycle management of services where resource management is implicit; and potentially modernise operations to converge network and IT planning, build, and operations and maintenance.
Key milestones of OSS maturity with network virtualization
Discussions regarding OSS among service providers and vendors are still at early stages. The exploration of multiple OpenStack projects is ongoing, but OpenStack’s management of virtualised infrastructure is seen as the most applicable at present. This exemplifies the immaturity of network virtualisation technologies.
Over the next three years, service providers and vendors will continue to identify network functions that can and should be virtualised in order to realise business benefits. Service providers have recognised that greater cost reductions could be achieved in the access network than in the core network. In the following three years, service providers anticipate that vendor OSS will become advanced enough to allow the coexistence of physical and virtualised networks through OSS abstraction. 
Over the subsequent five years, service providers expect to continue the gradual progress of the development, implementation and rationalisation of their OSS, in preparation for transforming into a consolidated, slimmer vNGN-OSS architecture that addresses OSS challenges and gaps to orchestrate the management of vNGNs. As a result, towards the end of the next decade, service providers are likely to complete their migration to vNGN-OSS, which will manage the vNGNs and technologies that have emerged during the decade. However, over a long-term period, service providers would consider other possibilities, including investing based on customer engagements, so that customers part-fund the vNGN-OSS development for particular services, progressing when sufficient VNFs are available for end-to-end delivery of one or more services,  overlapping self-organising networks automation with vNGN-OSS requirements, developing a holistic service agility vNGN-OSS framework and requirements for moving towards automation. They would also include these requirements in all OSS procurement documents issued henceforth.
Service agility is the linchpin for maximising the benefits of network virtualisation
There are three phases to become an agile service provider with a vNGN-OSS:
  • Deployment of vNGN: vNGN investments should be used primarily to augment or replace the network infrastructure that is delivering existing services. The vNGN should not be implemented in a silo environment, which would lead to dual spending on two networks and operations.
  • Co-existence with vNGN: In this phase, the benefits gradually begin to match the costs. These will largely come from deferred and reduced hardware costs, and the application of existing OSS to provision, manage and assure physical and virtual network resources for existing and new services using OSS abstraction.
  • Transformation to vNGN and vNGN-OSS: Service providers clearly identify legacy systems and infrastructure, and either replace or retire them in favour of newer, lower-cost virtualised alternatives which are more readily integrated into the new vNGN and vNGN-OSS architecture. The faster this transformation is completed, the sharper the inflection point can be in the service agility trend.
Historical trends indicate that if service providers continue their “as-is” operations, costs will increase gradually but continually over the next 10 years. As a result, a holistic service agility framework for migrating to vNGNs with vNGN-OSS could curb the climbing costs for service providers, while increasing competitiveness.
Going forward, a holistic service agility framework is needed to move towards vNGNs, a framework that increases the agility of service delivery and lifecycle management, and uses increased OSS automation, which can provide near-real-time views and control of operations with policy-controlled automation and analytics.

New vNGN-OSS must be cheaper and more agile – matching the flexibility and elasticity of virtualised networks, while still capable of managing traditional networks. vNGN-OSS will also need to orchestrate and manage physical and virtual network resources for both existing and new services.
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