Colt Dropping OSS Baton for Smarter Dance

LONDON -- OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV -- Network operators need more dynamic operations and support systems that are focused on service management across both physical and virtual network resources, Colt's Malcolm Orr told the audience here last week for Light Reading's OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV.

Orr, who is senior platform architect for the European operator, joined a number of service providers including Vodafone's David Amzallag and BT's Andy Reid, who spelled out significant deficiencies in the ability of today's OSSs to support their virtualization initiatives. He primarily called for a move away from massive orchestration at the OSS level, in favor of something more like choreography of multiple domains, which essentially manage themselves. (See Major Change Afoot in Managing Virtualization, Vodafone Calls for End to Five Nines and BT Wrestles With NFV Orchestration Confusion.)

Colt Technology Services Group Ltd hasn't hesitated to move ahead of the industry in the past -- its version of what is essentially virtual CPE predates the development of NFV. Most recently, the company has exited the cloud services business -- choosing to move out of hosted IT services altogether -- to focus on its network offers and data center interconnection. For that business to thrive, Orr noted, Colt needs to make its services match what cloud computing does, in being delivered on a dynamic, self-service basis through a portal linked through open applications programming interfaces to network resources. (See Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business.)

Orr said SDN/NFV efforts are about where cloud computing was five years ago, as there are initial deployments. Colt just launched its DCNet data center connectivity service built on software-defined networking, which allows services to be dynamically provisioned via a portal, and would like to expand that kind of on-demand service to its other offerings. (See Colt Launches SDN-Based Data Center Offer.)

Stay up-to-date on data center strategies including connectivity in the data center connectivity section of our data center channel here on Light Reading.

To move forward, the operator needs OSSs that are currently focused on static resource management to move instead to doing service management across underlying platforms that will continue to evolve, and will include both physical and virtual elements. Like other speakers, Orr also talked about distributing intelligence to network domains, and using the larger orchestration system to focus on services and creating a consistent service model -- that's the choreography piece of the puzzle.

And rather than wait around while standards groups or industry forums describe and define all the inter-workings of virtual network orchestration, Colt needs to press ahead with delivering more dynamic services today.

"NFV and SDN will get lost in the miasma of OSS integration projects," he commented, and companies like Colt will be unable to deliver the on-demand network services to successfully support cloud-based IT and web offerings.

He laid out a plan that dumbs down the OSS/BSS layer, requiring it to choreograph activity by multiple network domains -- infrastructure, NFV, SDN and physical elements. That new model would include an orchestrator of orchestrators, or integration fabric, that sits between those domains and what are essentially the key service-driven elements including the customer portal.

A number of the pieces of the architecture Orr laid out are things that don't exist today or are just coming into the marketplace, such as the SDN controller for data centers it is using to launch its DCNet service, and he exhorted the vendor community to help move this forward more quickly, to ensure the survival of network operators.

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

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