& 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
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
,
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
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
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
VoLTE Can Drive 4G Small Cells Adoption
Ravi Narayanan, Senior Analyst – Cloud & Next Generation Mobile Networks, Heavy Reading, 8/18/2016
'Most Wanted' Kobi Comes Home
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 8/23/2016
Rocket Fiber Lights Up Detroit With Gigabit
Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, 8/22/2016
CCIA Counter-Attacks on Set-Top Proposal
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 8/23/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.