Service Assurance Must Take Center Stage as Service Providers Grow their Enterprise Business
When we talk about digital connectivity, we tend to think first about our smartphones, the growth of social media and the explosion of consumer apps and associated digital services. But businesses are becoming more connected as well and experiencing their own digital revolution. For service providers, the demand for enterprise services is expected to surge in the coming years with the expansion of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and a rapid rise in industrial activities across the world. Powerful bandwidth connections, cloud-based infrastructure and the IoT are enabling new business capabilities like smart factories, augmented reality, cloud services and even remote surgery.
For today’s businesses, reliable connectivity has become a necessity. A loss in service used to just mean workers couldn’t access their email for a few hours. But today, that could translate into an entire factory getting shut down, or the cancellation of thousands of flights. It could even mean life and death when it comes to remote surgery or connected health devices.
In the past, getting a new business connected to the internet could take weeks or even months, with no visibility into service quality. Today, services are more complex, and customers expect more. They want fast, reliable connections to keep their business going – with a lengthy list of KPIs that need to be met.
The move to software defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) means that new business services can be provisioned more quickly and dynamically, while keeping the costs manageable, but it also puts a greater expectation on carriers for assuring those services and for making it easier for their business customers to monitor service quality for themselves. Fortunately, SD-WAN is up to the task – but many service assurance solutions aren’t able to keep pace. Siloed views of Quality of Experience (QoE), Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Network (QoN) that are not open and visible to the end users is no longer ‘good enough’. Business customers want more control, with self-management tools and easy-to-use user interfaces.
According to a recent Heavy Reading report, business customers want to see improvements in customer support, service transparency and SLAs. So, what are the key requirements to ensure service providers have the advanced service assurance capabilities required to support their enterprise expansion ambitions?
End-to-end visibility is critical for service providers launching SD-WAN services. Service providers require a solution that provides centralized visibility of service impact with top-down and bottom-up service-focused investigation capabilities. By consolidating management of physical and virtual network resources and services, operations teams will have a unified view of fault, performance, ticketing and confirmation data, spanning from applications to VNFs to physical infrastructure. And by providing a customer-facing, partitioned view of key performance data, service level status with visibility to application-aware routing policies, the enterprise customer’s operations team will have the hands-on visibility required to manage their SD-WAN service.
Sophisticated service modelling is essential to effective lifecycle service operation management. By extending physical network-to-service association to include virtual function resources, controllers and orchestrators, service assurance teams can focus on current and potentially affected services through analysis that correlates network and TCA alarms, combined with service topology. In addition, the seamless integration with existing service portfolios is required to ensure better monitoring of global and regional Hybrid SD-WAN deployments and service backup configurations.
Advanced machine learning capabilities are required for advanced service-level assurance and closed loop automation. In order to crunch the volume and cross domain data, machine learning and data consolidation is required to calculate and track Service Level Objectives (SLO), adapt to changes in customer needs and drive fast problem resolution. In addition, machine learning is required to forecast SLO-related KPIs to enable proactive corrective actions, detect QoS anomalies and SLO violations and to support root cause analysis for services deployed within dynamically changing networks, such as SD-WAN.
Increasingly, service providers are finding their current service assurance capabilities are coming up short. This is due to:
- a lack of OSS/BSS integration with multivendor Orchestrators, Controllers, Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) and Virtual Network Functions (VNFs);
- insufficient standardization between various vendors and their solution architectures to deliver SD-WAN services, often driven by competing ecosystems and their respective APIs;
- complex integration with legacy infrastructures even when SD-WAN is delivered as a network overlay solution;
These shortcomings will become even more apparent as service providers look to deploy more complex services. This is why TEOCO developed its Helix SD-WAN solution, which brings advanced capabilities specially designed to address the distinct requirements of enterprise services with flexible SaaS deployment options, such as central, distributed or cloud based. The ability to quickly integrate these advanced service assurance capabilities into existing OSS/BSS not only delivers service providers a faster deployment time, it also provides an attractive total cost of ownership for managing large numbers of enterprise customers.
A Tier 1 communications service provider in North America recently deployed Helix Service Assurance solution for its SD-WAN services. Not only has the implementation of Helix helped the operator to circumvent the abovementioned ‘legacy’ challenges with its current service assurance, the carrier also reported that Helix enables it to properly visualize and assure its SD-WAN services end-to-end, which has improved customer satisfaction, while ensuring the operator delivers the services according to committed service level objectives and SLAs – essentially overcoming the most important challenges mentioned above that telecom service providers face when targeting the enterprise space.
To learn more about how you can ensure you have SD-WAN ready service assurance capabilities please visit http://www.teoco.com/wp-content/uploads/Helix-Service-Assurance-SDWAN-Brochure.pdf