The simplicity required to deploy and manage services in future network and infrastructure operations is driving the need to rethink traditional operations support systems (OSS). The long-standing paradigm of bundling vendor and domain-specific management with network functions has been challenged. In recent years, a new approach has emerged that is built on the concept of an open and model-driven platform.
Expectations of today
Today’s service providers expect rapid network deployments, agile introduction of new services and cost-efficient operation and management—requirements that are even more important when planning for future 5G capabilities. Recent technology trends make it possible to redefine traditional support systems, at the same time as they enable greater efficiency in development and operations.
For example, model-driven automation eliminates the need for manual interaction by externalizing behavioral aspects of specific domains from application logic. Real-time and near-real-time analytics redefine support system functions such as performance, fault management, assurance, and optimization. This where analytics models act on the collected data, producing insights that are far richer in scope than the outcome of the traditional functions.
The key principles guiding Ericsson’s OSS architecture are to be service oriented, that the automation is analytics and policy driven, and use of virtualization and abstraction of network functions. By following these principles, operators can evolve OSS to become programmable, and truly unleash the potential of 5G.
Abstraction and programmability
As physical resources within networks transform into virtual resources such as Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), they will expose only what is necessary and be managed in a uniform way. This leads to a logical representation of resources and networks, which is referred to as abstraction. The capabilities of these virtual resources are exposed through interfaces that influence their behavior. This is referred to as programmability.
Abstraction and programmability are the main prerequisites for uniform management of automation, easing the shift from managing networks to managing automation. They enable simplification by exposing only the required capabilities of a domain, while still supporting an efficient interaction between management system scopes, and management systems and networks.
Machine Intelligence and Autonomic Networks
Automation can be further enhanced by applying Machine Intelligence (MI), which is the combination of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). MI adapts to the situation in a network and learns to provide the best insights for a given network situation.
As the level of MI increases, the role of policy shifts from governance of the decisions to be made, to ensuring that the insights produced from MI are appropriate. In this sense, MI is an enabler for autonomic networks.
Management of automation
The goal of automation is to provide a zero-touch network, which means that automation moves from automating through scripting that can be done manually, to an autonomic network that takes care of itself and handles previously unforeseen situations. This changes the approach to management, from managing networks manually to managing automation.
Want to learn more about Ericsson’s key OSS architecture principles and vision? Read the Ericsson Technology Review article "Evolving Operation Support Systems"
To learn more about Ericsson’s OSS products, visit our Automate your networks page.