In networking, ‘closing the loop’ means collecting and analyzing data to figure out how the network can be optimized and then implementing those changes. A Catalyst project to be demonstrated at TM Forum Live! in Nice next month will show how network operators can use self-organizing networks (SON) and network functions virtualization (NFV) in tandem to automate closing the loop and improving performance for customers.
Participants in the project, which is called Closing the loop: Data-driven network performance optimization for NFV and SON, include Mycom, TEOCO and Wipro, while Telecom Italia and Reliance Communications are champions of the project. The Catalyst demonstrates how to build a closed loop using key performance indicators (KPIs – including network performance, customer experience and service quality data) to enable network changes, optimization and self-healing. TM Forum’s Performance Management Interface is used along with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) interfaces to link operational support systems (OSS) with network elements, both physical and virtual.
“Closing the loop is becoming much faster and easier with NFV and SON. With both technologies we see that the market and needs are driving closure of the loop in healing the network and optimizing and maintaining the network,” says Yuval Stein, Assistant Vice President of Product Management, TEOCO. In the case of this Catalyst, configuration and performance data is collected in a mobile network and then analyzed to understand where problems exist or where there is potential for improvement.
“Basically we are enabling automation of self-healing and optimization,” says Vinay Devadatta, Principal Consultant, OSS Engineering, Wipro. “Both SON and NFV do that separately, but we are showing in one demo how they can work together.”
The vendors involved in the Catalyst are active members of the Performance Management Team in TM Forum’s Integration Program, so they are using the existing Performance Management Interface along with 3GPP interfaces to demonstrate a SON use case that optimizes mobile service using neighboring cell site lists and an NFV use case that automates network management.
In the NFV world, lifecycle changes to network elements are managed separately from the functional part of the network, Devadatta explains. “The functional part goes to the EMS [element management system], while the lifecycle part goes to the NFV MANO [ETSI’s NFV Management and Orchestration system].” The Performance Management Interface works to collect data consistently from both, and then that data is used to draw useful insight and to optimize the network.
“Another interesting thing about this Catalyst is that it’s not just the standard interfaces that are shared here; it’s the overall architecture,” Stein adds. “We’ve built an architecture that we believe can span NFV and SON. This is quite interesting because these two kinds of technologies are evolving completely separately, but from our point of view we see a lot of similarities in the way the OSS can relate to these technologies.”