8 OCTOBER 2015

Most large operators have acquired a mix of service assurance solutions over the years, mostly due to deploying domain-specific performance (PM) and fault management (FM) systems designed to address various access technologies and protocols, such as 2G, 3G, LTE, Wi-Fi and others. When viewed individually, they all appear to be working fine, so the common approach is often to just leave well enough alone; but this creates a whole new set of problems. The end result is a set of unrelated, silo-based systems that are costly and time consuming to use, manage and maintain. This approach often provides limited standardization capabilities, impedes the ability to launch new services, and creates longer troubleshooting times with poor first call resolution.  Integrating the various tools can sometimes be done, but it involves high integration costs, long custom development cycles and scalability issues that often can’t be overcome.

Networks today are also becoming more virtualized and complex, so operators are looking to automate many OSS operations.  Having a mix of siloed service assurance solutions prohibits this approach because automation requires an end to end service view. Operators will need more efficient ways of managing networks in the near future just to keep up the quality of service that their customers have come to expect.

The Unified Service Assurance approach brings together PM, FM and SM together through a common data model and a centralized user interface, removing many of the hurdles associated with the traditional siloed approach, and setting the stage for a more holistic end-to-end service view. Unified SA in tomorrow’s next-generation of mobile networks will allow the virtual infrastructure to grow and shrink in near real-time to support capacity requirements that are dynamic and constantly changing. And while the need for Unified SA is clearly important for the networks of the future, what are the key benefits of a Unified Service Assurance approach today?

1.  Improvements in Process Automation

Long planning cycle times, paired with outdated forecast and network information, results in inefficient resource allocation. Closed loop network automation and real-time network optimization reduces these cycles, providing a holistic view of network health in near real-time, so that resources can be allocated more efficiently – when and where they are needed most.

2.  Improvements in Service Quality Management (SQM)

An effective SQM implementation must have a full understanding of the all the services being offered to each subscriber, as well as a detailed understanding of all the various resources required. SQM, or Service Quality Management, captures all the quantitative aspects of a user’s experience by leveraging and analyzing live data, but to do it properly, a Unified SA approach is required. Operators need an end-to-end view of services across even the most complex network infrastructure.  Without multiple systems to manage, a more accurate SQM can be achieved for each subscriber, which means problems and trouble spots are identified and resolved even before they are reported.

3.  Customer Experience Improves

On average, 12-20% of first year revenue from a new customer is spent on acquisition costs, so keeping customers happy is critical.  The ability to provide a positive customer experience hinges on an operator being able to get an end-to-end view of the quality of service that is being provided across a highly complex network infrastructure, so that they can either prevent problems from occurring, or fixing them as quickly as possible.  This can only be achieved with a unified service assurance approach.

4.  Total Cost of Ownership Goes Down

By tightly integrating and automating the various PM and FM functions, operators have fewer tools to support and maintain, and are able to simplify processes and increase efficiencies, thereby reducing the total cost of ownership.

5. Time to Market Improves

As operators continue to evolve towards service centric and digital economy models, they need systems that support the launch of new products, devices and services.  Having to ensure service across multiple tools and systems can cause delays that can lead to missed deadlines and possibly losing a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

By tightly integrating PM and FM functions, operators will win every time, through better network performance, lower costs and greater efficiencies across the entire organization.  There is no purpose in waiting until tomorrow to fix this issue when the benefits of Unified SA can be gained today.