Making self-service Network slice-as-a-Service a commercial reality
A new Catalyst project is all about demonstrating a faster and leaner way to commercialize and implement 5G network slices that can be deployed and assured with a very high level of automation and cloud native experience. This addresses three key issues for communications service providers (CSPs): Creating new revenue streams and return on 5G investment; improving B2B clients’ experience; and tackling high operational costs.
The Catalyst, 5G slicing as a service for B2B2X over convergent cloud central offices, shows how to configure, orchestrate and assure the quality of service (QoS) of 5G network slices to provide a cloud native experience. It also simplifies how CSPs interact with business-to-business clients to meet their requirements and the right level of services, plus charging and billing per use.
The Catalyst is championed by Telefónica and American Tower Corporation, with NTT Data as prime system integrator and supported by participants Akamanta, Blue Prism, Compax Software Development, MATRIXX Software, and Salesforce.
Their demonstration shows how a CSP can launch a commercial 5G Network Slice-as-a-Service (NSaaS) offer to support different vertical industries' use cases. The performance requirements can be mapped to instantiate the most suitable network slice and to define its service level agreement (SLA), charging and billing.
The team is building on work done in a Catalyst last year, Boosting AIOPs for full hybrid NaaS [network-as-a-service] which focused on SD-WAN services for enterprises, with some order-to-payment capabilities, which the team has evolved to apply to 5G network slicing, charging and billing, and the concept of a cloud central office.
The Catalyst leverages TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture, including for production implementation guidelines and the Business Process Framework (eTOM). It also drew on Forum guidelines and best practices such as the Dynamic Network Slices Management and Business Model, and Network Slice Monetization, as well as the Application Framework (TAM) regarding impacts by software-defined network and network functions virtualization on network slice orchestration.
The team used the Forum’s Open APIs for service ordering, usage, resource inventory, and alarm management, plus performance threshold. The Catalyst also followed standards from the GSMA including its API SVI Restful, and Open Networking Automation Platform (ONAP) for 5G network slicing.
The team chose the ambitious scenario of automating the provision and assurance of a portable cloud data center, and the virtual/cloud network functions required to deliver a 5G network slice, dedicated to augmented reality (AR) for entertainment and cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X) communication.
While AR for entertainment needs high level throughput and low latency, C-V2X communications need fast and reliable networks at an affordable cost. The team addressed this challenge from end-to-end, defining different product offers in Salesforce, MATRIXX and Compax’s BSS stack.
The team abstracted network complexities away from end users to provide them with a straightforward experience. Using a 5G network slicing orchestrator, the team transformed clients’ service level requirements into network resource configurations.
The Catalyst presents several use cases covering network slicing lifecycle management from end to end. It starts from network and IT deployments in a cloud central office, based on cutting-edge technologies, and moves to commercialization and deployment of 5G network slices, ending up with charging and quality assurance for the slice.
Cloud central offices are a key part of the Catalyst since they will bring many efficiency levels to CSPs so they can simplify and automate network operations. The team proves that network disaggregation, virtualization, and programmability with an open ecosystem of hardware and software vendors can be deployed in a gigabit passive optical network (GPON), where traditional points of presence can be fully re-architected as a cloud central office.
NTT Data played the role of prime system and network integrator in building this cloud central office, orchestrating an open ecosystem of hardware and software vendors composed of:
To commercialize 5G network slicing, the team demonstrates a B2B2X use case where B2B clients are charged based on the data consumption of the ultimate B2C user over the 5G network slice, and the use of compute resources required to run the edge applications. This charging per user is one of the pillars necessary to bringing NaaS to market as a commercial offer.
To commercialize 5G network slices the team built a pure cloud native BSS stack where Salesforce provided its configure, price, quote (CPQ) system, self-management portal and order manager. MATRIXX provided the charging system and Compax the billing system.
The underlaying OSS was provided by NTT Data by means of its open OSS solution, complemented by Blue Prism and its robotic process automation solution, all within Telefónica’s TODA 4.0 framework.
Watch the team talk about the Catalyst on this video
Visit the Catalyst space for more information from the team.