The importance of network intelligence

Network automation is the process of automating the configuring, managing, testing, and operating of physical and virtual devices within a network. With everyday network tasks and functions automated and repetitive processes controlled and managed automatically, network service availability improves. Any type of network can use network automation.

Automation is one of the big rising stars of networking. Automated service-aware networks allow network resources to be pooled and allocated dynamically, based on the specific needs of each service. This results in improved utilization/efficiency, while supporting assured service protection and performance, enabling new opportunities to grow revenue.

A successful automation strategy first requires an accurate real-time understanding of the network. Without this, network controllers may initiate changes that lead to errors that result in network outages and service failures. Network Intelligence is the first step towards network automation. It provides a 100% accurate view of the converged multivendor, multi-domain IP/optical network that is a fundamental requirement for any automation plans.

A central IP/optical controller extracts data from the network, and then visualizes a converged real-time view of the complete multivendor, multi-domain IP/Optical network with all its relationships and dependencies. This network-wide view of topology, traffic, and services delivers unprecedented visibility, and forms a ‘golden source’ of accurate real-time network data that other applications and OSS/BSS systems can make use of.

One of the most profound aspects of the analytics process is that it doesn’t require SDN controllers or latest generation IP or optical systems to work. The network controller can extract the data it needs not only from SDN controllers, but also from legacy EMS/NMS systems, and, if necessary, directly from IP or optical network elements.

Having accurate, up-to-date network inventory data is critical to delivering new services. Discrepancies can result in order fallout that is both costly and impacts customer satisfaction. Inventory records are typically less than 100% accurate however, because multiple activities are constantly touching the network. With access to accurate real-time network intelligence however, inventory systems can be checked and validated against a known accurate source with errors easily corrected in seconds or minutes.

Network planners monitor network topology and traffic in order to make critical assessments of how many IP and optical links to provide and where best to place them. Without current and accurate multilayer knowledge, this process is complex, requiring data collection from multiple platforms and intense collaboration between multiple teams. With a pool of real-time network intelligence, planning tools can make use of 100% accurate data extracted directly from the network itself.

For most service providers, the IP and optical operations are often not coordinated. As a result, maintenance activities in one layer often happen without the operations team of the other layer being aware. With access to real-time network intelligence, operations teams can see the full impact of taking links out of service because they can easily see the dependencies between the network layers.

High-availability services typically require a pair of MPLS LSPs on diverse fiber links. If one of the LSPs fails, its traffic switches quickly to the other one so high-availability SLAs can be maintained. But what if the two IP links unknowingly have a common segment in their optical paths? This risk is very real because many IP links traverse a smaller set of fibers and because cross-layer awareness is very limited in existing network topologies.

Real-time IP/optical network data provides visibility to exactly how each IP link is mapped to an optical link. Diversity problems can thus be flagged, and when appropriately configured, IP controllers may be notified directly, allowing them to take appropriate corrective actions.

Network intelligence also provides some significant opportunities to grow revenue. Accurate network inventory data results in reduced order fallout. A direct consequence is that the time interval from order placement to implementation and starting to recognize revenue is shortened. Having an accurate real-time view of the network also means that sales teams can improve targeting and focus their attention on opportunities and areas where capacity and/or services are known to be available. The result again is shorter time-to-revenue.

Accurate network intelligence means that the carrier sales team can have access to accurate Design Record Layout (DLR) during the presale and post-sale process to prove diversity, latency, and optimal path. As a result, they can increase their competitive advantage and sales close rates by offering performance guarantees. With verifiable performance guarantees, carriers can also charge higher rates for premium services.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we focus heavily on providing end-to-end services to build 5G networks that are an integral part of network intelligence. We help service providers get their 5G networks integrated seamlessly, playing an active role in the legacy network optimization space.

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