When mobile operators transition to network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), they stand to gain quite a few benefits. Whether it's better service agility or more flexible business models, the end goal of this transition is almost always to uncover new revenue streams.
As mentioned by my colleague, Cyril Doussau, in a previous blog post, jumping on new opportunities made possible by NFV and SDN not only requires changes to the OSS, but also extra consideration for subscribers' quality of experience (QoE). In an effort to increase network service agility, the last thing a mobile operator wants to do is sacrifice this, particularly at a time when 5G is on the horizon and an increase in connectivity and network traffic is guaranteed. If the subscriber is not considered as part of the move to virtualized environments, operators risk churn and falling behind the competition, thereby undermining the original objective of transitioning to NFV and SDN!
To assist mobile operators in a smooth transition to NFV and SDN, InfoVista has developed a five-step performance assurance maturity model. It allows mobile operators to effectively monitor, measure, discover, correlate and visualize today's complex networks, while, perhaps most importantly, fulfilling customers' SLAs:
- Managing VNFs
- Managing NFVI Fabric
- Scaling VNFs
- Enabling Service Agility and Networking “as-a-Service”
- Managing SDN Architecture
Subscribers' QoE should be a consideration in the short term as part of typical performance assurance activity, but most especially as NFV is introduced to the network and management is required of virtual functions and the underlying fabric (steps one and two in the above model). Network visibility, when it comes to both applications and subscribers, is key. Given virtualization is known to obstruct mobile operators' network visibility, this is easier said than done.
A solution like InfoVista's VistaNEO, for example, can aid in this process, allowing for proactive network performance and service quality management at the subscriber level. As such, RF engineers can remain aware of QoE problems in near-real time, while being able to designate their attention toward a smooth transition to NFV and SDN, and the optimization of other complex environments, like those that will be required to support the 5G vision.
By pulling all of this together, the end result is true subscriber-aware networking that enables the optimization of the network service intelligently based on an individual user's behavior. This includes who and where they are, and the service they require at that time. VistaNEO, coupled with InfoVista's performance assurance maturity model, offers stepping stones toward this end goal.
Are you interested in learning more about ways to guarantee a high QoE during a transition to virtualized environments and 5G? I invite you to attend my panel at the NGMN Industry Conference & Exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany on March 25th at 1:40 p.m. local time. You can also check out the below resources:
- Heavy Reading and InfoVista's whitepaper: “Assuring Network Service Performance & Quality Over Virtualized & Dynamic Networks”
- Blog post by TM Forum's Ken Dilbeck: FAQs: Embracing the Transformation to NFV and SDN