Service Orchestration for Next-Gen In-Home Broadband – Are We Ready?

By Incognito on April, 30 2019

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While fiber access initiatives are part of the new transformational technology wave for communication service providers (CSPs) looking to keep pace with customer demand, they are also their highest single CapEx investment. FTTx business cases are built on network performance, lower cost of operation, and delivering new (and bandwidth hungry) services. End customer value built into those business cases includes faster connection speeds and unlimited Internet usage (or practically unreachable caps). To take advantage of the technology’s benefits, CSPs are looking at fiber Internet as a catalyst to deliver high-value services such as on-demand video, cloud storage, and IoT-based services, such as senior health care.

Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress 2019, the proliferation of advanced services was evident as vendors were demonstrating IoT devices ranging from consumer wearables – such as fall-detection for seniors, to utility meters – such as water usage reader and smart city surveillance applications, and streaming 8K video over compact 5G radio units. So it’s happening.

As a technologist, it’s encouraging to see products that utilize high-speed, low-latency Internet service immerging across residential and industrial verticals. While CSPs have plenty of opportunities ahead of them, I’m not convinced they fully understand what’s ahead and what they will need to fully address application complexity. It’s coming their way... and fast. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, though.   

Service Orchestration 101

Service Orchestration – not to be confused with NFV orchestration (NFVO) used for building the network plumbing – is a concept that allows service providers to design, deliver, and support Internet-based services in a modular and automated way.

Fiber-based Internet connectivity is the catalyst for delivering innovative services on top of and monetize service bundles. With service orchestration, CSPs can achieve:

  • Service customization through design process (as opposed to code) – e.g. Business Internet and residential Internet service packages can be fulfilled over the same platform. Reducing the delivery time can be achieved through design-based service customization and automated network configuration. If a custom-made shoe (a tangible thing) can be delivered in 2 weeks, I don’t see why we can’t make a custom Internet package for a customer and deliver it the same day!
  • Product orchestration is key to helping CSPs reduce costs and provide flexibility to customers. Offering an Internet service and a suite of smart home, information security, cloud backup, Netflix, surveillance, and power usage optimization is an example of product orchestration. Within a CSP, these individual blocks are defined as “products”, with each having a separate technology silo. Service orchestration allows these products to be combined.

It’s not just services – it’s about the core and access network technology as well

I would argue that in order to achieve the cost reduction and service quality improvement promised by next-generation technology, CSPs need to orchestrate service delivery across core and access networks, network and service layers, as well as CSP and OTT services. The initial focus on orchestration and automation is critical for sustainability among CSPs. While NFV/SDN infrastructure orchestration offers similar promises, end-customer service orchestration should be a deliberate initiative within CSPs to bring the benefits together. Learn more about the power of service orchestration.

Some of the evolution taking place in the core IP network include collapsed L2/L3 networking, hybrid network services leveraging both virtual and physical network functions, SDN-based service provisioning automation, and removal of EMS/NMS/mediation layers.

There need to be automation hooks in place when delivering fiber Internet services so that CSPs can ride on the deployed plumbing for Internet and other services to come on top.

Given the attention that core network virtualization initiatives, such as ONAP, OPNFV, and ETSI MANO/OSM, and operator initiatives are receiving, network programmability is becoming the linchpin to breaking both service and vendor silos.

In order to deliver any service over any vendor infrastructure, CSPs can leverage broader initiatives from within their organizations to facilitate network programmability for fiber Internet service rollout. Some of the concepts to leverage are:

  • Inventory federation so that OSS functions can see entire service and network view accurately and in real time;
  • Fault and performance management through closed-loop automation, telemetry, and analytics;
  • Data models for describing services, extensions/customizations, and lifecycle of services – both functional model and operational model should be fully defined and interpreted by the orchestration and controller layers;
  • Remove EMS/mediation layers in order to reduce service launch time and gain full visibility of network elements/functions;
  • Digitalization of network operation and customer support through the introduction of event bus, APIs, and applications.

Reducing the number of OSS product-specific silos and layers, as well as moving towards a model-driven service orchestration layer will allow CSPs to overcome service complexity and deliver new services quickly while reducing opex.

To learn more about the Incognito’s solution and how we can help you innovate your next-generation broadband services, please contact a member of our team!

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