& cplSiteName &

Automation of Provisioning Still Elusive Goal

Carol Wilson
7/3/2014
50%
50%

Automation remains the key for service providers to get to more rapid service provisioning, but the paths to automation are many and varied and each service provider is in effect on their own journey.

That was one impression left by an expert panel on Rapid Service Provisioning at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in Chicago in mid-June. Panel moderator and Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee noted that his research shows about two-thirds of service providers are looking for an order-to-activation infrastructure that can handle automated order flow-through for complex IP services, streamlined service order management and automation of all aspects of the process.

The majority of those same service providers said manual order entry processes and delays/inaccuracies created by those processes were key contributors to delayed activation of services.

Banerjee's calculations, based on several measurements -- the average reported fallout rate of orders, the average number of times an engineer is engaged to fix a problem, and the average number of truck-rolls involved -- shows a financial impact of $10 million per million orders received. That explains why service providers are so determined to find automated processes they can use to eliminate the errors that slow things down.

One key part of that will be getting a common engineering service model, which defines service requirements in a generic way, said Mounir Merhi, VP-IT architecture, design and delivery for Tata Communications Ltd. . "Beyond that, creating common APIs that can be exposed to providers and network operators so they can code to those APIs -- that will help us get the hands out of the system, which is what causes the fallout," he said.

Multivendor complexity
In today's networks, service providers can do rapid service provisioning for a single technology or single vendor's equipment, but in the real world with multiple vendors and complex networks, it's a different story, he said.

"In order to get to zero-touch provisioning in such networks, we need very clean data -- 99% clean -- and to get to that, you can't have the human touch," Merhi said. "We need a standardized approach and standards are there."

He was encouraged by the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) presentation a day earlier in which Bikash Koley said the Internet giant is also looking for a common engineering model and willing to work with the telecom industry on developing that. (See Google to Open Key Network Models for Industry Comment, Standardization.)

Today, many applications don't expose data in standard formats, which makes it hard for service providers to tie together technology from multiple vendors, said Prabhu Ramachandran, director, WebNMS , and that's one thing service providers should be pushing their vendors to provide.

Ramachandran also pushed for network management vendors to be more like orchestrators, able to move up the value chain and deal with multiple network elements through open APIs.

Today, many of the pieces are in place and standardized enough to enable functions such as end-to-end service assurance, based on having intelligent devices at the customer premises, said Eitan Schwartz, VP, RAD Data Communications Ltd.

Virtual potential
Virtualization, through SDN and NFV, offers the potential of simplifying things by creating one centralized place through which new features are delivered via software, said Mitch Auster, senior director, Market Development at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). It's possible today, without replacing existing hardware, to create a layer of abstraction: Auster cited OpenDaylight, the industry group that created its own open source SDN controller, as one approach to doing that. But it is still very early days for that process, he conceded.

Auster believes it's possible to move fairly quickly to a standard device model, using open source software such as OpenFlow. Ciena is already able to control its Carrier Ethernet gear as well as routers from major third-party vendors, he said.

Diego Lopez, senior technology expert, Telefónica Investigación y Desarrollo SA , also sees NFV as an ultimate solution but noted that moving to NFV will probably make things uglier initially until a number of issues are resolved.

Lopez compared the current state of NFV to the point in the making of homemade mayonnaise where the eggs and oil are first mixed together. The initial result is pretty ugly, he said, but with the hard work of continual beating, the results can be good.

The Telefónica technology expert used another food analogy to explain how NFV will enable the automation process by creating a layer of abstraction over the messy "spaghetti bowl" of network equipment and connections existing today. He added later, however, that it is important to change the overall thinking to focus on functions and not just on nodes, links, and boxes.

"I think we are just starting to scratch the surface of the revolution," he said.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(7)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/7/2014 | 9:17:30 PM
Vendor incentive
The current incentive in the marketplace is against vendor interoperation. Lack of interoperability increases customer lock-in. 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/7/2014 | 9:16:43 PM
Re: Spaghetti, mayonnaise, and automation
I've never made mayonnaise. I never considered this a liability in a technology career.
Scott Sumner
100%
0%
Scott Sumner,
User Rank: Blogger
7/4/2014 | 10:18:45 AM
Closing the automation loop
Hi Carol,

Great article.  This is something we have been discussing with a number of customers and we see that they are progressing quickly towards user-defined cloud services, and automated provisioning / service parameter updates on the fly.  The component that still seems to be manual is the initial validation of a new service.  To ensure that SLAs are met, and performance meets the customer-specified bandwidth profile, for example, Service Activation Testing using a standard like RFC-2544 or Y.1731 are normally used for turn-up / birth certificate validation.

I would expect that this, too, needs to be automated, triggered by customer service changes (on demand or scheduled).  This technology exists today to perform these tests using virtualized instrumentation, it's the integration with the user-portal and automation applications that need to be polished.

Have you heard any noise about this side of the service provisioning equation?

Thanks,

Scott
Susan Fourtané
100%
0%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Blogger
7/4/2014 | 7:05:10 AM
Spaghetti, mayonnaise, and automation
Carol,

Service providers surely see that automation is taking over every industry.

Not jumping into the wagon to find automated processes with which they can eliminate errors in order to speed things up would be silly and risky. 

I imagine the panel discussion took place before dinner. That would explain the thoughts on spaghetti, mayonnaise, and maybe other food analogies. :D

-Susan
sport8
50%
50%
sport8,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/3/2014 | 7:03:08 PM
Automation of Provisioning Still Elusive Goal
Carol,

I couldnt help but think of an issue for service providers that is multi-vendorrelated....It seems that either the programmers force upgrades or the receivers need to be sent in for firmware upgrades.  I would wonder if you are address this part where a vendor supporting automated firmware management or a universal activator for multivendor equipment to treat satellite receiver firmware backup and restore.  I mention that because satellite receivers represent the largest quantity of headend items, 75-100 or more.

 

thank you-Frank 
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
7/3/2014 | 5:50:30 PM
Re: Centralized versus distributed intelligence
Mostly, folks talk about centralizing control as part of the automation process but there has to be distributed intelligence as well in the virtual world for a lot of functions. So it's not an either-or situation. 
Atlantis-dude
50%
50%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/3/2014 | 5:31:34 PM
Centralized versus distributed intelligence
Where is the goal of automation ?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP’s Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it’s going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Innovations in Cable

5|26|16   |   03:18   |   (0) comments


Marc Aldrich from Cisco discusses the latest in security, the evolution and momentum for CCAP and what the industry will be seeing next from Cisco.
LRTV Documentaries
Leading Lights 2016 Highlights

5|25|16   |   02:26   |   (1) comment


Some of the high points from this year's Leading Lights awards dinner at the Hotel Ella in Austin, Texas.
LRTV Documentaries
Light Reading Hall of Fame 2016

5|23|16   |   05:43   |   (0) comments


Find out who has been welcomed into Light Reading's Hall of Fame this year.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE TM Forum Highlights

5|23|16   |     |   (0) comments


ZTE showcased its new ICT solutions at TM Forum in Nice.
LRTV Interviews
Gamma's MD on the Emergence of UC2

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Gamma Communications Managing Director David Macfarlane believes the unified communications (UC) market has reached a tipping point.
LRTV Custom TV
The Ultimate 5-Minute Guide to Digital Customer Engagement

5|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this short video, you will hear all about how Digital Customer Engagement is the key to meeting customer expectations, keeping them happy, and maximizing revenue. VP Product & Marketing at Pontis, Ofer Razon, breaks down for us the five essential capabilities for successful Digital Customer Engagement. Don’t miss!
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 1 – NFV Use Cases Get Real

5|19|16   |   05:57   |   (0) comments


Consensus is building around the key use cases for NFV, including managed IP services at the network edge and on customer premises, which can generate new revenues from enterprises/SMBs and consumers; Evolved Packet Core to support LTE migration; and adjacent technologies, such as TAS and IMS, to support VoLTE and next-generation charging and policy control ...
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 3

5|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang discusses the challenges of operational transformation and how Nokia helps its customers. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Why UC Is In Demand

5|17|16   |   04:12   |   (1) comment


Andrew Edison, Level 3's senior VP of sales, EMEA region, talks about the drivers of growth in the unified communications services market.
LRTV Custom TV
ARM's OPNFV Action

5|17|16   |     |   (0) comments


At the ARM booth at MWC 2016, Joe Kidder and Bob Monkman speak to Light Reading about OPNFV and their upcoming action.
LRTV Custom TV
Nokia's Steve Vogelsang on NFV – Part 2

5|16|16   |     |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang gives advice to service providers on how to move to NFV. Join Steve at the Big Communications Event in Austin the morning of May 24, on his keynote and optical networking panel.
LRTV Interviews
Interoute CTO on NFV's Maturity

5|13|16   |   06:46   |   (1) comment


Matt Finnie, CTO at international operator Interoute, explains how NFV has made life easier in terms of logistics and how Interoute can now enable a 'software-defined moment' for its customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
December 6-8, 2016,
June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
DT: Telcos Must Escape Vendor Prison
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/24/2016
AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/24/2016
Cisco's Patel Hails 'Microculture' Successes
Iain Morris, News Editor, 5/26/2016
AT&T's Margaret Chiosi Retires
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 5/25/2016
Cable Is Eyeing Its Retail Options
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.