What Can the Telecoms Industry Learn From Top-Flight Orchestral Conductors?

Why does an orchestra need a conductor?

With their prominent position at the front of the stage and everyone’s eyes fixed on them, conductors certainly look important. But given that the musicians already have music scores to guide them, shouldn’t they be able to manage on their own?

A symphony orchestra comprises a group of highly skilled musicians, each of whom has practiced their instrument for years. Each one knows their own line in the score. Yet left to perform without unifying control, despite playing the right notes there won’t be a shared voice when it comes to tempo, volume or expression. The conductor is the one who unifies all these variables, weaving the individual instruments into a cohesive unit and giving life to the music on the page.

Let’s compare a modern telecommunications network with an orchestra for a moment, with network services being the symphonies. Network services are ‘composed’ by chaining specialized siloed capabilities across a hybrid network spanning multiple domains and technologies, and with a mix of physical, virtual and cloud network functions from the network access and edge to the core, telco cloud – and now also public cloud.

Just as the challenge for an orchestra is to get all the musicians performing seamlessly together for a harmonious outcome, operators must overcome the challenge of complex multi-vendor, multi-technology networks and cloud siloes to deliver services that meet both committed performance criteria and their customers’ needs and expectations.

Challenges on the journey to 5G

CSPs are progressing on their 5G journeys by introducing virtualized and containerized network functions (VNFs and CNFs) and software-defined networking (SDN). However, for the foreseeable future many parts of the network will continue to rely on traditional physical appliance-based network elements. The resulting mix of virtual and physical network domains and clouds managed by siloed domain orchestrators, controllers and other management systems, exposes new levels of multi-vendor and multi-domain complexities. This complexity diminishes end-to-end visibility and control, adversely impacting operational efficiency.

While some operators are trying to bridge the silos with manual processes, this approach is too disjointed to scale. Relying on manual processes to manage highly complex 5G services spanning multiple system silos is extremely difficult and undermines the ability of CSPs to innovate and meet their customers’ evolving needs. The move to 5G Standalone (SA) and network cloudification requires a major uplift to existing operational, orchestration and assurance systems and processes to ensure they are ready for the business challenges of 5G-based services.

Getting a slice of the 5G action

5G services typically operate across a network that spans multiple domains, vendors and technologies, from the radio access to the edge and core, and accessing both telco and public clouds. A good example of this is 5G network slicing.

A slice-based model allows CSPs to move away from a rigid ‘one size fits all’ approach to offer differentiated connectivity services with varying network performance characteristics such as ultra-low latency and massive IoT services. To deliver on this promise, an end-to-end network slice orchestration solution is vital, specifically one that orchestrates the creation, provision and lifecycle management of network slices spanning the RAN, edge, transport and core network domains.

A recent IDC survey* confirms that the telecommunications industry is ready to take this step. Nearly 50% of respondents state that an end-to-end (E2E) service and network orchestration solution spanning multiple domains and integrating with multiple network orchestrators and controllers, is their preferred automation approach. Furthermore, with only 5% planning to continue using their existing service and network orchestration systems, CSPs clearly appreciate that the complexity of this new multi-domain environment demands new modes of operation. In terms of intent, it strongly suggests these players want an end-to-end network and service orchestration solution that enables efficient and effective service lifecycle management of network and cloud services across multiple siloed domains, vendor technologies and hybrid networks.

The critical role of service orchestration in driving 5G success

Just as a conductor acts as the orchestra’s quality control manager – unifying the musicians, setting the tempo, listening critically, anticipating and calling out errors – so an end-to-end service and network orchestration solution offers similar levels of control when it comes to 5G networks. By executing continuous service fulfilment, dynamic closed-loop assurance and enforcement of policies for services, xNFs, and network and cloud resources, the orchestrator ensures that service intent and quality of experience are maintained. Designed and implemented in partnership with the right vendor, such a solution will enable CSPs to fully exploit their investments in specialized network technologies, while unleashing the huge potential of 5G services and programmable and cloud-native networks to create new revenue streams.

Read more about Amdocs’ service and network orchestration capabilities here.

(*) 5G network automation report, IDC, February 2022

— Ron Porter, Head of 5G, Network & OSS Product Marketing, Amdocs

This content is sponsored by Amdocs.

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