CSPs Brace for Changes in Assurance Wrought by Virtualization, Automation
Although the majority of service providers in the Thought Leadership Council (TLC) think their companies are currently doing a good or better job with service assurance, they agree that doing so will be more challenging as virtualization and automation become more prevalent in their networks.
These are findings in the first vendor-sponsored TLC report, CSPs: Service Assurance Key to Automation Plans. Specifically, half of communications service providers (CSPs) say they'll need to supplement their current service assurance tools as they virtualize networks. Several TLC members specify how they plan to address those changes in the report; one panelist says his company will do so "by evaluating and augmenting our current platforms and solutions with new vendor tooling abstracted under enterprise API facades."
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is seen as the greatest challenge that TLC members currently face in their approach to service assurance, with 58% identifying it as a concern. Forty-six percent of CSPs said IoT is another significant challenge to their company's current service assurance platforms.
Interestingly, CSPs haven't yet identified a clear plan on what virtual implementation they will use. Forty-two percent of respondents say they'll use OpenStack and virtual machines (VMs), while 33% say they're still evaluating their options and haven't decided. Another 25% of panelists identified a variety of different plans, utilizing OpenStack, VMs, Kubernetes, containers and other options.
Not surprisingly, 75% of panelists say the growth of virtualized networks will increase the need for proactive, automated testing of newly activated services in a number of ways, including 5G, IoT, wireless core elements, network slice instance deployment and more. One panelist commented, "It will increase particularly for services such as fully integrated service chains and dynamic service chaining... As we move away from proprietary dedicated appliances to white boxes, it requires proactive and automated monitoring to ensure features, functions, performance and compliance adherence."
The results of the latest TLC survey come as part of a special report created for the NFV & Carrier SDN: Automation & Monetization event slated for September 24-26 in Denver. TLC members were asked ten questions developed by report sponsors SevOne Inc. , Spirent Communications plc and NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT), and the results will be discussed by panelists during a presentation on the first day of the show titled "Service Assurance & Test & Measurement Strategies on the Path to Automation."
The full report, available at no cost, includes insight into when companies will begin running network services as virtual network functions (VNFs), plans for visibility into multi-access edge computing (MEC) and timeframes for implementation of closed-loop orchestration.
The Thought Leadership Council is a unique Heavy Reading initiative founded in August 2017, in which panels of highly targeted CSPs participate in strategic research. TLC members receive private invitations to take part in anonymous surveys, which enable them to provide insights that might otherwise go undisclosed. Currently, TLC boasts more than 115 members, and new members are added on a monthly basis.
— Denise Culver, Director of Online Research, Heavy Reading