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Service orchestration and assurance is key for innovation at scale

Communication service providers (CSP) realize that multi-domain services are significant to meet the growing demand of 5G use cases in the market. However, handling such services spanning across domains requires a unified approach to design, create, accelerate, and assure service lifecycle management.
Service orchestration and assurance is key for innovation at scale

New revenue opportunities demand a new approach 

As 5G SA solution rollouts gain traction, CSPs have new use cases and new areas of services to explore. While CSPs make continuous efforts and investments in addressing the growing needs of the industry, they observe that the complexity of businesses, services, and network operations is rising. Services are becoming more heterogeneous, distributed, and varied.  Effectively operating in today’s open and programmable networks requires a fundamental focus on service orchestration, automation, and assurance. These functions must no longer operate in silos. CSPs need a comprehensive strategy and approach to manage new service life cycles. 

Multi-domain and multi-technology service orchestration and assurance simplify operations through automation. This is made possible by Ericsson Service Orchestration and Assurance as an engine of innovation for multi-domain service orchestration in multi-vendor environments. It is extended by Ericsson Dynamic Network Slicing solution assets to realize network slicing life cycle management and service life cycle automation. Associated Ericsson OSS/BSS Services drive better business outcomes across service orchestration and assurance. 

Addressing the challenges in current service orchestration and automation solutions 

In today’s dynamic environment, it is imperative for all businesses to proactively identify and seize emerging opportunities. CSPs need ecosystem partners to help drive growth, but the increased complexities of a heterogeneous network and multiple domains involved makes it quite difficult for partners to manage service life cycles, automation, and assurance at scale. Let's delve into the core pain areas hindering their progress. 

  • Silo approach - Conceptually service orchestration and service assurance have been there for a long time now, but they have been working in silos which brings limited automation capability and introduces delay in commercializing innovative solution at scale. 
  • CSPs require service orchestration and assurance solution engineered to be multi-domain and multi-vendor ready. It must be driven by an open and standards-based architecture ensuring to have the flexibility and agility to create and manage network slices seamlessly across diverse domains. 
  • Traditional orchestration stacks have many pitfalls where much of the network function configuration and integrations are still done manually. CSPs are looking for a solution which makes them free from human intervention in service automation and service assurance in a comprehensive manner across domains. 
  • Innovation at scale has been the key differentiator in the fierce 5G market. CSPs are seeking a solution that can break even the traditional time taking exercise to commercialize their innovative products.  

It is essential for CSPs to address the shortcomings of their IT and process setup if they are to simultaneously optimize service operations. CSPs are now approaching service design, fulfillment, orchestration, and assurance as a consolidated transformational element. Automating processes across these consolidated closed-loop service operations is the overarching goal of many of the IT transformation projects in the industry currently. 

Closing the loop: CSPs aim to automate service orchestration and assurance (tmforum.org) 

Open and standards-based architecture is key to be vendor agnostic 

CSPs require service orchestration and assurance solution engineered to be multi-domain and multi-vendor ready. It must be designed based on an open and standards-based architecture ensuring that CSPs have the flexibility and agility to create and manage network slices seamlessly across diverse domains. 

Let us drive down the most renowned open standards that must be the design force of a comprehensive service orchestration and assurance solution. 

  • 3GPP compliant: Enabling end-to-end orchestration across RAN, transport, and 5G core. CSPs can orchestrate network slices ensuring a holistic and optimized network service delivery. 
  • GSMA GST/NEST based modelling: Incorporates GSMA GST (Global System for Telematics) and NEST (Network Slicing Template) based modelling of service characteristics for network slicing. Empowers CSPs to precisely define the characteristics of network slices, ensuring alignment with service requirements. 
  • ETSI compliant: Ensures network slices can run in virtualized environments and have seamless end-to-end resource management. Guarantees compatibility with virtualized infrastructure and efficient resource allocation. 
  • TM Forum: Leverages TM Forum standards to interact seamlessly with the BSS layer allowing the exposure of capabilities towards the commercial catalogue and fulfilling orders. It simplifies the commercialization of CSPs’ network services. 
  • IETF for transport domain: Utilizes internet engineering task force (IETF) standards for managing network slices across the transport domain. This ensures a consistent and effective approach to slice management, regardless of the domain. 

From intent to realization of a service using service orchestration and assurance 

CSPs need a service orchestration and assurance solution that can drive them to monetize 5G use cases. There are several steps or intricate actions that must be completed to achieve a complex use case. A typical use case not only spans across technology domains but also industry sectors like health, manufacturing, and many others. An example of a multi-domain service could be an end-to-end “smart campus” offering which is based on 5G-enabled fixed wireless access, network slices, and SD-WAN. Multi-domain service orchestration is needed to deliver and manage the complete offering efficiently.  Consumers have different service requirements with an urgent need for short lead time. Here comes the excellence of an orchestration solution that glues together all the complex steps across technology domains to present a network service as per the consumer requirement.  

The high-level steps of an intent driven service requirement are presented below. 

  • Design - Service designing  
  • Activate - turn intent to action 
  • Update - Manage and maintain 
  • Assure - perform service assurance with close loop automation 
Figure 1: Ericsson Service Orchestration and Assurance 

Figure 1: Ericsson Service Orchestration and Assurance 

Critical success factors for service orchestration and assurance 

Service orchestration and assurance is a multi-domain, multi-technology service and enables cross-domain orchestration spanning access, transport and 5G core. It breaks the traditional silo approach of service orchestration and service assurance working in isolation per technology area. A modern implementation of service orchestration and assurance is a single product which manages the complete life cycle of services as well as assures them with closed loop automation. 

The platform should have a built-in discover and reconcile framework providing generic mechanisms to discover and reconcile services/resources from various source systems to different target systems. This capability improves the accuracy of network data. 

Service orchestration and assurance: 

  • Is a single engine of innovation which can automate, orchestrate, and assure service offering life cycles across multi-domain and multi-vendor environments. 
  • Realizes orchestrated and assured E2E network slicing faster with production-ready accelerators. 
  • Provides improved SLA commitments through closed loop automation. 
  • Provides integrated service order management function with orchestration that helps to design services with ease across network and IT improving time to market. 

To explore the essential role of service orchestration and assurance in enabling CSPs to profitably capture new service opportunities quickly and easily, you can catch up on demand this recent show featuring Telia, Telstra, Rogers and Telefonica sharing their success and progress:  Fuel innovation with service orchestration and assurance | LinkedIn. 

Read more:

Service orchestration for better service quality - Ericsson 

OSS/BSS Services for better business outcomes - Ericsson 

Network slicing – operational enablement - Ericsson 

Closing the loop: CSPs aim to automate service orchestration and assurance (tmforum.org) 

Fuel innovation with service orchestration and assurance | LinkedIn. 

Ericsson Technology Review: Evolving service management toward intent-driven autonomous networks 

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