|B/OSS Insider Blog|
Gaining Visibility Into Big Data
By Anand Gonuguntla
Given a telecom landscape that is increasingly fragmented in terms of technology platforms, device profiles and traffic patterns across customer segments, CSPs are finding themselves drowning in information. Next-gen service assurance approaches can help.
When it comes to service assurance, communications service providers (CSPs) have a data problem. A Big Data problem, to be specific. Communication infrastructures are increasing in complexity in terms of service offerings and granularity and volume of telemetry and performance data. CSPs are finding themselves drowning in information and not making the best use of the data to which they have access. To maintain competitiveness, CSPs must find a way to process, correlate and make sense, in real-time, of the massive amounts of information about the health of their services and the status of the customer experience.
It’s not an easy task: Network elements across the infrastructure are producing millions of bytes of information about performance, SLA thresholds, uptime, availability, traffic congestion and more, all of which is often contained in service-specific silos that don’t necessarily speak to each other. Add in accelerated service rollouts and constantly shifting end-user requirements, and the picture that emerges is one of a complex, dynamic environment that is overwhelming legacy service assurance systems. In many cases, implementing an effective service-assurance strategy can feel like a process that’s equivalent to changing the tires on a car as it’s flying down the freeway.
Fortunately, a next-generation service assurance solution that comprises end-to-end fault and performance management can address the challenge of monitoring and processing service-assurance related big data. But meeting the challenges effectively means taking a fresh, innovative approach. To that end, here are a few top-line best practices to avoid getting bogged down in big data:
- A Converged Approach. The aging service-assurance platforms found in most NOCs were not built to handle the modern pace of innovation, so CSPs often find themselves with manual processes and the overhead of working with, outdated, manually intensive toolkits that don’t lend themselves to on-the-fly decision-making. Also, most CSPs have multiple management systems. Eliminating swivel-chair processes and implementing automation at all points in the process is an absolute mandate going forward. A service-assurance solution that can look across a converged infrastructure, consolidating and correlating information from all sources, should be the first requirement for any next-gen platform.
- Leverage Web 2.0. The more intuitive the user interface, the better the visualization of the health of the network and the better the network performance. Graphical user interfaces, mapping, and dashboards or reports that can provide information to a range of stakeholders across the organization should all be part of the solution. A Web 2.0 user interface can make ongoing configuration easy enough to adapt to day-to-day changes and demands — it shouldn’t take an engineering degree to use the system.
- Proactive Monitoring. As real-time services and dynamically changing network-congestion profiles become the norm across carrier networks, reactive approaches to monitoring are no longer enough. A next-gen service assurance system should be able to monitor for trends, notice the trouble signs, correlate across network technologies and services and send notification before the issue impacts end-users.
- A Focus on Devices. At the heart of any service-assurance initiative is the ability to gain visibility down to the device level. One way to make sure the full landscape is taken into account is with the use of modular, pre-built plug-ins for device types, to stay ahead of the innovation curve. The introduction of a new video endpoint at a business shouldn’t require weeks to support in the service assurance system. Also, any platform should offer the ability to automatically resynchronize the state of the devices in the event of a backbone outage, for optimal visibility.
It may seem like a daunting task to get one’s arms around the explosion of data inside the network and operations support systems, but it doesn’t have to be. By implementing one solution to manage a converged infrastructure, with new features and flexibility not available in legacy platforms, service providers can go a long way to solving their thorniest service assurance issues.
Anand Gonuguntla is CEO at Centina Systems .