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Enabling autonomous networks through connected digital operations

Rob MorganRob Morgan
24 Jan 2024
Enabling autonomous networks through connected digital operations

Enabling autonomous networks through connected digital operations

CSPs are at a crossroads. As they work to meet the expectations of more demanding customers and become more agile in dynamic markets, they’re moving quickly to adopt software-defined, hybrid cloud infrastructure and autonomous networks. But their success in the next generation of communications will depend on their ability to maintain service quality while controlling costs—and doing so is proving stubbornly difficult due to operational friction, limited visibility, and legacy silos between network and IT operations teams.

The convergence of network and IT technologies has been a key factor in the transformation of modern communications. Now, it’s time to unify the data, tools, and workflows that power Service Assurance—and continue the drive to AIOps-powered Zero Touch and Zero Trouble networking.

Unifying visibility to make better decisions, faster

As CSPs shift from traditional static, monolithic infrastructure to virtualization and cloud, the lines between network and IT are increasingly blurred. Functions once implemented through physical networking devices are now being delivered as virtualized network services (VNS) and converged network services (CNS) over Kubernetes and VM-based hybrid cloud infrastructures. This poses a challenge for operations teams on both sides of the organizations, who typically lack visibility into each other’s domain or a full understanding of the technology dependencies between them. Service Assurance becomes slow, costly, and complex, while risks like security blind spots, unanticipated issues, and compliance violations increase.

To achieve unified visibility and understanding across their converging infrastructure, CSPs need to supplement traditional network inventory tools with new discovery capabilities tailored to the more agile, dynamic nature of modern environments such as telco clouds. By using a cloud-native, converged platform to discover the dynamic elements that make up their network, the underlying hybrid cloud infrastructures, and the dependencies among them, IT and network operations teams can evolve toward unified service management across their domains. Network service management platforms and AIOps platforms can use complete data to enrich and automate contextualize workflows, improve change management, and predict, prevent, and remediate issues affecting service wherever they might occur. Converged asset discovery across hybrid cloud infrastructure will also help uncover shadow IT while improving security and regulatory compliance.

Breaking down operational and process siloes between network and IT

In the past, both subscribers and CSPs were accustomed to the notion of separate touchpoints for different services. But while customers now expect a more seamless experience, operators still typically rely on separate tools and workflows for processes like billing and customer service management on the IT side, and actual service delivery on the network side. As a result, customer issues are often reported through the IT system, passed to the network team for resolution, and then pushed back to the IT system to be closed out—adding friction and delay every step of the way. This fragmentation imposes additional costs in terms of its effect on innovation and business ability as cumbersome change management processes slow the introduction of new services.

Beyond their impact on overall efficiency, silos network and IT management tools are also a poor fit for modern CSP environments where many or most issues will involve technologies, data, and personnel across both domains. Unlike the technology-centric teams of the past, specialized in areas such as transport, access, mobility, and orchestration, today’s organizations are increasingly made up of small, agile, product-centric teams dedicated to specific products, each spanning multiple constituent technologies. Provided with common data, tools, visibility, and services across the entire converged environment, these teams can collaborate quickly and efficiently to solve issues and create solutions to ensure customer satisfaction. New digital and network products can be brought to market more quickly without increasing risk, activated immediately for new subscribers, and delivered with greater reliability.

Putting AIOps to work for automated service assurance

As IT and network technologies converge and CSP infrastructure is reshaped by hybrid and public clouds, operations teams need faster, more efficient ways to manage the environment, solve issues, work proactively to prevent problems, and plan for future needs. By moving from siloed tools and largely manual processes to a common, AIOps-powered platform across network and IT domains, CSPs can modernize and transform Service Assurance for greater agility, prediction, and automation, and facilitate the ongoing evolution to Zero Touch, Zero Trouble operations.

As problems arise, a unified, cloud-native AIOps platform can leverage built-in intelligence to suppress noise, translate complex root causes into natural language summaries, highlight actual customer impact, and provide clear next-step suggestions to help IT and network operations teams accelerate MTTR. Many types of manual toil can be replaced by automated remediation and self-healing measures such as restarting a device or changing a configuration parameter to resolve an issue before it impacts SLAs. Working proactively, teams can automate the configuration of monitoring and management rules for dynamic infrastructure, and can leverage intelligent trend analysis and scenario forecasting for more accurate capacity planning to ensure quality and reliability.

Taken together, unified discovery, converged network service management, and AIOps-powered Service Assurance provide an essential foundation for modern CSP operations. By breaking down silos and automating workflows across formerly separate network and IT domains, operators can provide better customer experiences at a lower cost-to-serve for services delivered through dynamic, multi-domain, hybrid cloud environments—and position their business at the forefront of digital communications.