The guide to network, service and subscriber analytics
In the traditional telecoms environment, red lights in the network operation centre (NOC) were sufficient to warn operators of a network performance issue. However, as services have become more complex than simple network connectivity and as network architectures increasingly involve different types of network technology, a red light on a console warning of poor performance or failure of a specific network element is of little use in identifying service affecting issues or the root cause of an issue.
Worse still, green lights on a network operations centre (NOC) dashboard don’t mean all is well. In fact, green lights can also mean danger as service-affecting issues such as slow video start time or jitter do not show up at the NOC level. This means that operators are flying blind into the era of on-demand services, many of which are bandwidth intensive and involve a complicated chain of organizations for the delivery of premium services. What’s needed is an efficient, cost-effective means to analyze network big data to create accurate and timely insights into the performance of services over the network.
The stakes today are much higher than in the simple network connectivity era because operators are providing a growing range of sensitive services and apps that include enterprise collaboration tools, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN), ultra high definition video and gaming and a raft of other services provided by operators and their partners. Revenue from these services needs to be apportioned fairly and, in some cases, content providers are starting to pay for some of the delivery cost of services. However, they’ll only be willing to continue to do this if they are certain operators are providing the higher level of service they are seeking to charge for.
A final element of the challenge is the technological shift the telecoms industry is going through as it prepares to roll-out 5G mobile and transitions towards softwaredefined networks. These software-defined networks (SDN), enabled by network functions virtualization (NFV), will continually change function according to network demand. This is in great contrast to the traditional era when one piece of network hardware performed one function and could be monitored and managed on that basis.
Now, commodity hardware will change function from supporting high definition voice calling, for example, to serving streamed media on-demand. Traditional network metrics are of little help here and are probably too reactive to serve significant business use. What’s needed is accurate, highly specific insights, delivered in nearreal-time that reveal the true state of the performance of an individual service over the network at that precise point in time.
Analytics that assess the performance of the network, the service and the subscriber, often in the form of analyzing the performance of virtualized customer premise equipment (vCPE) are necessary. EXFO calls this 3D analytics because of the three dimensions of network, service and subscriber that all feed into the comprehensive picture of service and experience assurance.