Simplifying complex networks

Operators need to obtain an end-to-end view of services and the network resources that they consume. They need to be able to consolidate information across all of the resources that are used in delivering a service. Moreover, when a service changes and requires additional resources, this must be added to the picture.

Dynamic correlation of active services is therefore essential. If operators are to successfully deliver the next generation of services, they must be able to obtain a complete, real-time picture of what actually happens when a service is activated, when it changes, so that performance levels can be maintained at all times. They need to ensure that such a view is available from a single portal, accessible by all who need it, but they also need to be sure that actions and events can trigger alarms and responses, according to the specific KPIs chosen.

NetVision delivers a complete, end-to-end view of service performance and availability, in real-time and correlated across all network elements and resources. It enables operators to simplify complex networks and to ensure they deliver the experience customers demand. Why not talk to TACIRA to find out how?

Why the service desk is the heart of your assurance framework

Faced with more demanding customers, increasing competitive pressures and a richer service portfolio, operators need more than ever to proactively manage and assure services and network infrastructure.

Proactively monitoring and preventing potential network performance and IT infrastructure problems, can help operators to reduce costs, avoid penalties associated with breaking SLA terms. Furthermore, the confidence gained from more effective network operations – through the intelligent use and presentation of critical network data optimised to the needs of any service and infrastructure – can ultimately drive your business forward by helping to attract and retain customers.

A vast array of information flows through the network, and is captured by aggregators, which can be correlated to produce an end-to-end view of network performance. Automated alarms, triggered by events that feed into other systems to generate actionable responses, are an essential component of the assurance framework.

An optimised service assurance framework ensures that operators can obtain and make sense of network performance information, statistics and reports from multiple sources – as well as plan effectively for the future.

However, it is the service desk that sits right at the heart of your OSS infrastructure and assurance framework. The service desk provides visibility and control of operational data for different users within the organisation.

It allows businesses to organise workflows to manage customer care more efficiently, track issues, enhance workflow, meet SLAs, and ultimately grow their business with individual customers. Customer care is an essential part of this and demands particular attention. Put simply, the faster issues are resolved, the greater the cost savings.

NetVision Service Desk is a complete service problem management solution that sits at the heart of all customer service activity. It ensures that requests and customer service activities are converted to measurable and actionable items.

NetVision Service Desk is a critical element for the conversion of input into operational intelligence, as well as the co-ordination of communications and management of work flows. It can help operators to concentrate and consolidate management information for technical support, help IT to investigate issues and diagnose for service improvement, gracefully manage and schedule changes and requests, help to meet SLAs, ensure compliance with international standards and best practice, among multiple further benefits.

The ability to meet and manage SLAs is essential for operators offering managed services

As the speed of technological innovation continues to accelerate, more and more businesses are looking to outsource some, or all, of their IT functions to external managed services providers. The benefits are myriad: access to the latest technology, reduced capex, reduced staffing costs, scalability, flexibility, agility ... the list goes on. As a result, it is essential that operators who offer managed services to other businesses are able to show their customers that they can match and exceed the performance of their competitors.

One way to do that is by guaranteeing that you can consistently deliver against service level agreements (SLAs). A proven ability to meet SLAs can increase customer satisfaction, retention and recruitment, and minimize financial penalties incurred for breaking the SLA.

An SLA is a contract between an operator and a customer that defines the services and the performance levels that both parties expect, as well as outlining the penalties if the terms of the SLA are broken.

In telecoms terms, it might include network performance levels, system customisation and optimisation, alerts and reaction times, applying compliance requirements, as well as applying customer promotions and discounts on the fly as required by the customer.

NetVision Service Level Manager is a complete solution for real-time tracking, monitoring and enforcing service level agreements and contracts between customers, suppliers and partners: Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Operational Level Agreements (OLAs), Underpinning Contracts (UCSs).

As an eTOM and ITIL compliant service level management solution, it is fully integrated with related systems, such as service desks, workflow management, billing, and operational performance measurement.

It provides a rich set of reports and a comprehensive visual dashboard that enables penalties and incentives to be calculated for relevant terms and indicators, as well as complete resolution plans for process improvement.

Operators offering managed services must be certain that they can deliver against the SLA contract, and NetVision Service Level Manager can take the headache out of managing that task.

Innovation results in diversity – networks must be ready

Innovation is leading to a proliferation of new ideas, particularly in managed and cloud services. Delivering, launching and monetising such services will lead to new classes of SLA that must be backed by an appropriate service assurance infrastructure. Service assurance is fundamental to turning rhetoric into revenue. Are your systems ready?

Ernst and Young’s regular “Inside Telecommunications” online journal always has a section dedicated to service innovation within the industry. It’s interesting to see how this has developed over the years. Broadly speaking, what we have seen is a growth in diversity, both in terms of specific services and also in terms of service categories – with many traditional barriers having been broken.

There’s activity across multiple fronts – investment in a growing array of cloud services, more managed service offers that address key IT concerns, enhanced mobile content and so on. And, that’s just from within the industry – services delivered by stakeholders from outside telecoms have also proliferated as new entrants compete to reach subscribers.

What this means is that network resources and assets will be placed under increasing strain by the highly variable demands of different services. Some services will remain best effort, but others that include security protection or enhanced mobile payment capabilities will have different performance characteristics. Many of these will be orientated toward enterprise customers. These have different expectations from consumers and will demand service performance guarantees - with the result that today’s SLAs must evolve and will become increasingly difficult to maintain.

Take the managed security service offers highlighted by Ernst and Young, for example. Some of these build on existing capabilities but others will depend on new capabilities driven by demand. CSPs are well used to managing their networks based on event reporting, but they are less used to offering the same level of granularity in order to manage event-driven security threats for individual enterprise customers. Without the ability to guarantee such services, it will be hard to turn ideas of service innovation into revenue-generation.

Of course, there’s a gap between rhetoric and reality but there is no doubt that CSPs are beginning to deliver new services to a wide range of users and this trend will accelerate. This means that they need to prepare their networks for the differing demands of each new service offer in order to deliver the promised capabilities. CSPs cannot offer pre-emptive notification of cyber security attacks without having the right tools in place.

This means they need systems in place that can provide the appropriate levels of service assurance that will be required. As more capabilities and services are enabled, these systems must also keep pace. A unified service assurance framework that can collect, correlate and interpret data from real-time systems is essential. It must be capable of interfacing with a growing range of new solutions, so that the unified service view is maintained. An enterprise will not pay for a CSP-managed security solution unless it can be guaranteed to perform as expected.

Ensuring service innovation can be effectively realised needs a combination of skills – it needs the ability to understand complex networks and their components, it needs the ability to layer new capabilities onto existing resources, and so on. It needs service assurance that is optimised for highly variable demands and an ever-growing range of service capabilities. In fact, what it needs is NetVision.

NetVision provides a complete service assurance framework that enables any digital service to be realised effectively, regardless of the solution components that are deployed. It provides a real-time view that allows CSPs to obtain the complete, end-to-end view of any and all of their active service portfolios. Crucially, it has the flexibility to extend to new service offers, which means that, as the pace of innovation accelerates, new service visions can easily be realised without disruptive change to the underlying network resources. Why not find out how TACIRA can help build a service assurance foundation to support your innovation efforts?

How to enable and sustain service agility to support innovation through transformation

CSPs are tapping into multiple sources of innovation to drive revenue and build new partnerships. But innovations in service and network performance require agility in terms of service assurance, so that promised capabilities can be delivered. Is your OSS ready to deliver the performance you need to support a culture of agile innovation? Can you support the partnerships you need? NetVision can.

For some time now, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been searching for ways to introduce new practices into their businesses so that they can unlock latent innovation. Seeking to emulate the explosion of innovation that surrounds the world of the Internet, many CSPs have embarked on initiatives that both seek to capitalise on external sources of innovation, as well as internal. Recognising that they have in their hands key assets, such as network reach and ubiquity, as well as powerful authentication and billing systems, CSPs are attempting to capitalise on these by delivering new services and capabilities.

This is an on-going and open-ended process. It’s essential to recognise that there are multiple sources of innovation, which can impact network infrastructure, deployment models, as well as new kinds and classes of services. Some may yield near-term results; other activities may be of benefit only in the much longer term. Still more will be dependent on the formation of partnerships with other stakeholders from both the Internet and other domains.

However, there is one thing that all such initiatives will have in common. They will all place demands on network infrastructure and CSP networks will have to evolve in order to keep pace with changing requirements.

This will not proceed by a dramatic revolution. For example, while NFV migration will happen, it will be piecemeal. Instead, what we shall see is an incremental evolution towards both new network configurations and to new classes of service. In order to support the innovation that CSPs hope to unlock, they will need to ensure that their OSS solutions can keep pace. Any new service or network capability that is unlocked and delivered must be capable of delivery by using the elements that are already in place as well as new solutions that will be deployed in time to come.

They must be adaptable to cope with changing circumstances. Or, to put it another way, we will live in a world of hybrid network solutions for some time to come as CSPs continue to realise the potential of current assets while they incrementally add new ones to their inventory. Indeed, all services must be delivered over a necessarily complex infrastructure that will almost certainly become still more complicated before a new common architecture and framework, enabled by radical new technologies such as NFV / SON, begins to gain critical mass.

This requires agility in service assurance and service delivery. To support and sustain innovation within the network, CSPs need to be sure that they can flexibly allocate, control and manage the required network resources and assets. They must be able to do so while a host of new services and demands are placed on network resources. This is a long way from legacy approaches to OSS. Most legacy services are one dimensional – reserving a given bandwidth for a specific client or for an individual network service.

In the emerging world of innovation, led by both CSPs and other key stakeholders, this approach is no longer sufficient. Some services will be simple, others complex. Still more will require dynamic resource allocation to respond to changing conditions. An OSS infrastructure that can support such changes and challenges is required. That’s why NetVision exists. It enables the flexibility demanded to support innovation, from whatever its source.

NetVision is designed to provide a comprehensive solution for the over-the-top management of services, based on compliance to eTOM and ITIL standards. It is a complete software platform optimised for the management of telecommunications, networks and IT services. NetVision delivers superior service assurance by the presentation of clear and accurate information about performance, capacity, availability and service delivery.

For CSPs seeking to capitalise on new sources of innovation, NetVision is essential. Each service must deliver the performance and CSPs must be confident that KPIs can be achieved. Obtaining and making sense of network performance information, statistics and reports is complicated by the fact that many networks have multiple reporting systems.

NetVision solves this problem by consolidating information from multiple sources to give clear and accurate, real-time visibility of all resources. Want to know more about how to create a service assurance framework to support your innovation? Get in touch with TACIRA to find out.

Service Orchestration is the Key to Innovation for Operators

Most operators recognise that there is a world of innovation to be found outside their networks, which their customers will eagerly consume. At the same time, it is thanks to operator investments in network innovation that customers can successfully access such services. In the future, more and more operator investments will be directed to the goal of delivering the best possible experience for their customers and for an increasingly diverse range of needs and users. Service orchestration and assurance is fundamental to this vision.

At the recent Service Delivery and Innovation Summit, which took place in London last month, we heard from operator after operator that is focusing its consumer offers on a range of carefully curated content from other providers. Typically, these include streaming and on-demand video services, access to high quality music, bundle subscriptions to leading publishers and so on. All of this is good for the consumer, but it’s clear that much of the obvious innovation comes from outside the network boundary and from internet partners.

However, while it’s appealing to suggest that innovation is beyond the operator domain, it’s a misleading argument. Operators recognise that they need to provide best of breed in terms of their content and applications, so have turned to external agencies to secure them. But they also have to ensure that their networks provide the performance to enable users to enjoy them comfortably. It’s no use offering a premium service bundle with the best available partners if your subscribers are unable to enjoy a satisfactory experience.

That’s why operators are busy innovating in other areas. They know they have to build networks to meet a range of different demands – consumers, business customers, regulators, M2M applications all have their different requirements. It’s nice to think that there might be a single, common set of network requirements, but we are far from that.

As a result, they must focus on ensuring that their networks are equipped with the agility to support an increasingly diverse set of demands (including many that we cannot even anticipate at this stage) on a single network – a network that is capable of being provisioned for services that have widely different characteristics. And, to support these network innovations, they must also innovate in how they can provision, support, maintain and guarantee such services.

That means service orchestration and assurance. It means flexibility in terms of how services are provisioned and how they interact. They must ensure that they can independently monitor and verify each element of a service chain and correlate information accurately, end to end. As networks evolve, this will be quite a challenge.

Future innovation for operators is likely to be increasingly focused on the network. As we move towards a world in which NFV and SDN architectures create previously unparalleled levels of flexibility, operators will seek to capitalise on these evolutions to deliver better experiences to their customers. It may be that subscribers increasingly consume services created by external parties, but they will be enabled to enjoy them by the network investments from their operators.

Service Assurance is at the heart of this. It’s the means to support and ensure the success of network innovations and to realise the promise of rich subscriber experiences. At TACIRA, we help operators build the agile service orchestration and assurance infrastructure they need to guarantee that their networks perform as expected. It’s difficult and requires continuous innovation but it’s absolutely fundamental. If your customers don’t get what you promise, they won’t be your customers for long.

The operator of the future will enable access to external innovation, but this can only be effective if they ensure that their own investments in network innovation are backed by the control and monitoring systems to support them. If you want to know how to do this, why not get in touch?