Network data collection and analytics provides the insights needed for a smooth transition
New networks and new services mean we’re now entering a different industry to traditional telecoms. What’s needed are data collection and analytics capabilities so communications service providers (CSPs) can assess their performance, monitor their progress and take proactive action. Here, Claudio Mazzuca, the vice president of the Transport & Service Assurance Division at EXFO, tells VanillaPlus how he sees CSPs overcoming the challenges they face by utilising data analytics internally, to ensure the smooth running of their businesses and networks.
Claudio Mazzuca: The speed in which CSP networks will evolve over the next decade will be staggering, and for good reason. Today’s networks are struggling to deal with the growing pressure consumer demand is putting on all facets of the network. CSPs are looking to deal with this through the transformation to more agile, software-defined networks which at their core will require more automation in both service delivery and end-to-end (E2E) Quality of Experience (QoE) assurance. This new network will require CSPs to adapt their internal processes and systems, while requiring them to rethink how they build real-time visibility into the E2E performance of each service, as this will form the basis for their competitive advantage moving forward.
VP: What impact do you see the network evolution to virtualisation with NFV, software defined networking (SDN) and self-optimising networks (SON) having on data analytics?
CM: NFV, SDN and SON are major technological disruptions that will require new approaches to the management of networks and subscriber experience.Network, service and application performance instrumentation coupled with E2E real-time analytics capability will be fundamental to the CSP’s transformation to this next-generation agile network. In addition, this network will be very intelligent and dynamic; therefore visibility into the performance of all processes and systems, both virtual and physical that are involved in the service chain will also be an important dimension to analyse. This correlated view will provide a full view of the service performance, and will ensure proactive resolution of issues.
At EXFO we understand this paradigm very well and, over the years, we have been very active in embedding our knowledge and experience in our solutions to enable CSPs to undertake the transformation to virtualisation and cloud based service delivery without losing sight of network and service performance and user QoE.
VP: So, what role do you see EXFO having in helping CSP through this transformation and beyond into the new era of digital services?
CM: As mentioned earlier, it’s important to take into account that the new telecommunications environment is going to be very flexible and dynamic. Static network architectures, technologies and rigid OSS/BSS platforms of the past are being incrementally replaced with networks, services and OSS/BSS platforms that can adapt to requirements
of new services that are more prone to peaks in bandwidth demand and user QoE, such as video and VoLTE.
EXFO is at the forefront by actively participating in the work of standardisation bodies and forums such as ETSI, BBF, TM Forum, MEF, and developing new solutions in close co-operation with CSPs.
Our work is focused on two things.
First, from an end to end (E2E) service perspective, enabling right level of instrumentation to network, service and the applications participating in the service delivery – along the service chain and across the networking layers (Layer 0 to Layer 7).
Second, real-time contextual analytics with embedded heuristics applied to the data ingested from diverse instrumented sources – probes, user devices, geolocation, network elements, application servers, routers, switches and storage right from user to the data centre traversing RAN/fixed access, IMS, metro and core and covering technologies like optical, 3G/LTE, xDSL, ethernet, IP, voice, video and rich communication services.
EXFO enables CSPs to continually and proactively improve the overall performance of their networks
and ultimately improve the service experience for their subscribers.
Expanding on its 30 years of testing and service assurance heritage, EXFO has now transitioned into the E2E QoE market for mobile and fixed network operators, and their ecosystem of equipment manufacturers.
VP: Many companies seem to have similar claims, how is your solution unique?
CM: What makes EXFO unique is our 30 years of deep expertise in understanding of what it takes to deliver high QoS and user QoE from an E2E perspective. This expertise spans across three vectors: Along the service delivery path (physical/virtual); Along the network layers from the physical layer to the application layer (Layer 0-Layer7); and finally, along the understanding of CSP methods and procedures going all the way from the field turn-up and maintenance to network operations.
We couple cloud-enabled, intelligent test and monitoring solutions with a comprehensive real-time analytics platform, which delivers E2E view of service experience.
This rich analytics is a key to CSP stakeholders such as marketing, customer care, network operations, planning and engineering.
By utilising our field-portable solutions, performance monitoring solutions, interfaces to third party data sources and real-time analytics capabilities with embedded heuristics, our customers are provided with precise and actionable intelligence about the subscriber experience. I don’t think any other vendor can do that as well as EXFO.
VP: Which areas do you believe will benefit from end-to-end service experience analytics?
CM: Multiple CSP service areas will benefit from this end-to-end service experience view, however the most immediate CSP drivers are in the QoE assurance of mobile based service, such as VoLTE, VoWiFi and video (OTT) services. Ensuring the high-quality delivery of these services requires a multi-layered view of the E2E physical infrastructure, IP transport, signalling and media performance of the network. EXFO has partnered with its CSP customers to deliver E2E analytics solution that are deployed and delivering this real-time E2E service experience view.
Claudio Mazzuca: Agility and efficiency in turning-up new services while assuring excellent user experience will be what sets one provider apart from the others.
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