In order to optimise operations and find new sources of revenue, telecoms operators are stepping up the virtualisation of their networks with a view to shifting to automation. Axians is helping these operators with these innovations.
Telecoms operators have not been left behind when it comes to the overarching shift to automation. When applied to networks, for example, it offers a number of advantages, removing manual steps in network management, such as the connection of routers, switches, balance modules and other safeguards. Smart automation is the next step – a way of reducing operating costs, enhancing the experience for both clients and employees, and preparing for 5G monetisation.
Experts like Axians, VINCI Energies’ ICT brand, are supporting these changes. “Network virtualisation is the natural next step for the telecoms industry,” explained Luis Gomes, Sales Director for the Service Providers Sector at Axians Portugal. “It’s part of the digital transformation; automation is being introduced at both conventional telecoms infrastructure and virtual and hybrid infrastructure.”
He said, “automation can help communications service providers be more responsive, for example by reducing time to market (TTM) in the roll-out of innovative services and applications, or by reducing the risk of human error throughout network change management. It can also be used to help the network adapt to certain unforeseen incidents by using monitoring software that enables automatic reconfiguration.”
Shifting towards automated networks
Automation is in fact the first step towards autonomous networks. But first, we must transform existing operational processes – most of which are still based on manual operations, which can lead to errors, or set scripts that sometimes do not align with operational requirements. Luis said, “this transformation must be chosen at the highest level and apply to everyone, because it involves the departments of various service suppliers – planning, engineering and operation, as well as telecoms infrastructure maintenance.”
Autonomous networks are implemented using a range of tools that work together via a single multi-layer platform that is based on a multi-supplier architecture and open APIs.
“By introducing software developments to conventional networks, we can now handle use cases that we just couldn’t in the past. For example, networks can now react automatically and in real time to constantly changing conditions by extending their scope to cover these use cases when closely linked to communications service providers’ BSS/OSS platforms,”(1) said Luis.
Axians is currently working with a number of service providers to define use cases that would facilitate the adoption of network automation. Luis explained, “after having created a roadmap for implementing these use cases, we are helping service providers define a shared strategy for their different departments by using an incremental approach, step by step. This enables all parties to clearly see the positive impact as their automation processes progress.”
Case studies that Axians are working on include the procurement of services with Lab-as-a-Service, which ensures end-to-end service and inventory management.
Cloud platforms, of course, play a key role in network automation. Luis said, “they can step up roll-out and adoption. Some solutions suppliers are even offering new sales models, such as OSS‑as-a-Service, that enable fast adoption of the platform, with pay-as-you-grow models in exchange for a small initial investment in configuration.”
(1) Operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) are essential IT systems that cover a wide variety of telecoms services.