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5G is the flavor of the day and presented as the panacea of all network latency and growth problems. But without trying to describe how 5G addresses those, what does it really mean from a network management perspective and more specifically, where does Network Management as a Service (NMaaS) have a part to play? In other words, how do we ensure that the 5G opportunities get realized while avoiding a network management nightmare?

The management challenge

The signs are in the water already before the 5G even hits the ground:

  • Large complex networks are hard to handle: regardless of an operator’s current network size there are 100 000’s of parameters to set and manage in a coordinated manner and that figure is only growing as network capacity increases.
  • The networks are always changing be it in size, scope and technology. And this change is not a swap in technology but in most cases an addition to what’s already there to add more complexity to manage e.g. SDN, small cells and so forth.
  • New deployment models of network functions have to be handled in an efficient manner, be it cloud or some level virtualization. And this has to be done for a period of transformation from the current model through hybrid to cloud. Indeed any network management is going to be subject to this deployment transformation itself.
  • Service centric management becomes more and more important for the operator so how does the network management layer support this?

So the management challenge already exists but is now at the start of the acceleration curve due to the imminent arrival of 5G.

What 5G brings, is firmly in each of the problem spaces above, e.g. new radio and core technologies (radio interface, active antennae, beamforming, network slices, area management, 3GPP R15 etc.).

There is also the increased network sizes, with added parameters and volumes of parameters to manage, and more deployment models of both virtual and physical and hybrid. These models evolve and change as the technology advances and matures from the early versions. And, indeed, there is the ambition of flexible network models, that are in some way elastic to respond to the traffic needs, while all the time needing to work seamlessly with existing network technologies.

The need for an easy network management integration towards an open service based management is evident—and that is now being defined in the 5G space.

Management and automation solution

So these are management challenges but they are the opportunities for a management solution to make the operators life less complex i.e. management and automation that is efficient, flexible, scalable, simple and is future proof (for cross domain, service centric and handling a smooth network evolution).

The answer? It is a very simple proposition: Network Manager as a Service (NMaaS) makes network management applications available to manage the network but with the key differentiator being time to market. That means immediate access to generic network technology and network management applications that change and transform with the network, without any of the the hassle.

Accessible key values via NMaaS

For Ericsson’s Network Manager (ENM) the key values are accessible via NMaaS:

  • Scale. Not everybody has a large cloud infrastructure, or the teams behind it to over dimension the hardware environment to facilitate nor baby sit the “elasticity” of a management system that needs to reshape itself with the network.

    So this is a new key angle to the existing benefits of NMaaS: not only as an alternative means of providing network management without the hassle, but now also the opportunity to have the flexibility to insatiate instances of ENM applications, as needed for the ever changing network via NMaaS. No CAPEX investment, baby sitting or any internal red tape.

  • Superior network performance from an OSS that is kept highly available and always on from NMaaS. Get ENM applications that brings greater bang for buck based on time to resolution from intelligent network management (i.e. adding the capability to detect and relate faults, to route causes quicker plus automation where possible or rather more importantly where relevant and needed for key frequent tasks).

    And get a single point of operations for all the NW technologies (VNFs, PNFs and hybrids of both), including an abstraction of the 5G network resources that reduce complexity. Even via NMaaS the applications have a real time network sync, that always presents an exact and reliable image of the network.

  • Time to market: NMaaS can deploy applications, software updates as needed and all with no network freeze or service interruption. And the latest software is always available to access, coupled with a model driven architecture that gives the flexibility for a more rapid change on the network layer. Again, back to the “no CAPEX investment, baby sitting or any internal red tape”.

Want to know more about Ericsson NMaaS vision? Watch the video!

Read more about the Network Management as a Service offering.

For more information about Ericsson's OSS products, check out our Automated network operations.

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Kieran Nash

Kieran Nash

Kieran’s current role is centred around the release of the Ericsson’s Network Manager (ENM) to the market and his personal primary concern is to both ensure that general market feedback is harnessed to improve and enhance the product and also to ensure that with ENM, Ericsson take a lead and show the way to manage and facilitate the current technology shifts for network operators that are gathering pace in the industry. Kieran is a qualified Electrical and Microelectronic engineer who joined Ericsson directly as a graduate over twenty one years ago. In that time he has worked on various Telecoms products offered by Ericsson from designer, systems analyst, project management to now product management.