For years, service providers have grappled with a wide variety of logical inventory systems with lots of legacy data, heavy customizations and slow product introductions. They have aspired to, but have never achieved, ‘one source of truth’.
Network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) can help operators simplify service inventory by modeling it through abstractions at multiple layers in the network and operational and business support system (OSS/BSS) environment. A new Catalyst project called Project Lily plans to show how, but instead of aiming for ‘one source of truth’, the goal is to develop ‘distributed sources of abstracted truth’.
Abstracting the complexity
The Catalyst is named after the Asiatic lily, a flower that is easy to grow and earliest to bloom, mirroring the simplicity of topology distribution in service providers’ networks. The team hopes to show that a lighter logical inventory is possible through NFV and SDN.
Specifically, the objectives of Project Lily are to demonstrate:
- how to abstract service/topology at different layers and only expose what is needed to higher layers;
- how to use analytics-based discovery and reconciliations; and
- how to use distributed topology/configuration views to make smarter service management decisions.
The Catalyst plans to make use of some of the work of the Forum’s Zero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management (ZOOM) team on information modeling, including enhancements to the Information Framework (SID), however the primary aim of the project is creating new assets to help operators and their suppliers develop lighter logical inventory solutions.
Layer by layer
The deployment of NFV and SDN results in multiple layers in the service provider’s environment (service orchestrators, domain orchestrators, virtual network function managers and virtual infrastructure managers – for example, OpenStack and SDN controllers). These layers include topology information pertinent to the domain under their control, which helps service providers use abstractions instead of having to construct the entire service design in the OSS layer.
The benefits to operations teams are reduced complexity in configurations and service management, better service agility, and automation.
The Catalyst team, championed by Verizon with participants from Cognizant, Ontology and EXFO, plans to contribute an Information Guide (IG) on this subject, where new distributed topology models and analytic principles will be evolved. Cognizant has authored this concept and is leading the Catalyst. Ontology is bringing in its topology mapping and visualization layer, and Exfo is providing service management expertise.
Project Lily will be demonstrated at TM Forum’s Innovation InFocus in Dallas in November. It is exciting work and we encourage you to find out more by visiting our website or emailing Jean-Pierre Dufresne to become part of the action.