Smart Data Powers Service Layer Management for Network Operations 2.0 (2020)

By Dr Vikram Saksena & Ryan Eccles, NetScout Systems

Cable operators have embarked on a network transformation journey to evolve their networks from a centrally controlled, purpose-built platform to a distributed, programmable platform. A programmable network fabric drives service agility by allowing operators to create, change, and personalize services on demand, thereby shrinking service delivery intervals significantly. Together with business process automation and new service innovation, operators are well positioned to drive revenue growth and profitability. In this new era of service agility, operators will have to raise the bar on differentiating themselves on superior service quality to retain and grow their customer base amidst a highly dynamic and competitive landscape. In this paper we describe a powerful approach to service layer management utilizing packet data.

As operators evolve to a distributed, service-oriented architecture, the delineation between network and service management becomes more pronounced. Machine data (syslogs, telemetry, flows, session records, etc.) collected from the network elements is better suited for network management as they directly point to problems in the underlying infrastructure. Being vendor specific and fragmented, it is challenging to correlate machine data from various elements in the network to get an accurate view into service layer problems. A better and more direct way to identify service layer problems is to look at packet data, which is vendor independent, universally available, and carries all the contextual and relevant information pertaining to subscribers and the services they consume. Every transaction between subscribers or between a subscriber and an application leaves a footprint on the operator network which can be analyzed for service performance issues as well as security related threats.

Smart Data, which is actionable metadata derived from packets, delivers superior service management capabilities due to its high-definition nature. Smart Data coupled with Smart Analytics enables proactive service assurance, network automation, just-in-time resource management, SLA management and many other use cases at the speed and agility required for Network Operations 2.0. We also describe an actual operator use case for proactive service assurance of Wi-Fi networks.

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