Any serious discussion of widespread implementation of NFV and SDN must address orchestration, which goes well beyond the network and touches most BSS/OSS solutions as well as operations across the business. Implementing service orchestration, policy orchestration, operations management and customer QoE management requires closed loop automation and seamless orchestration.
Despite numerous efforts to extend existing BSS/OSS to close the loop, service providers have realized that they were expecting too much of their existing billing, CRM, fulfillment and inventory systems. Those systems can’t be extended to fill the orchestration gaps that are preventing seamless end-to-end execution of service, policy and QoE processes. The service and NFV orchestration that is absent in existing BSS/OSS is the engine for automating the most critical service management processes.
Orchestration is often applied to individual services or network silos, and while it’s good to automate and manage workflow where possible, the risk with NFV and SDN trials and subsequent deployment is that service providers will apply a new silo to manage the virtual aspects of the network. Unlike previous deployments where new services were launched using a separate network overlay, NFV alone is not a new service. SDN orchestration is needed to marry NFV with existing network, service and customer elements to create and deliver new products.
Within a unified orchestration environment, end-to-end core processes should be consistently defined, managed and executed across every work group, every system and every data source in the business. Unified orchestration harnesses the functionality in existing systems and silos by abstracting the modeling and execution of cohesive end-to-end processes that are monitored from start to finish.
There is a lot more to implementing service orchestration than managing a hybrid NFV and physical network. The trick will be determining what kind of orchestration will be required to integrate with existing inventory, ordering, product catalog, CRM, fulfillment, billing, support, policy, sales, financial and other systems that currently send data to or receive data from the network.
Getting serious about orchestration means getting serious about BSS/OSS integration and application program interfaces (APIs) that collect and disseminate critical data to all the operational and business support systems north of the network. The infrastructure and BSS/OSS being used to deliver and support existing services and revenue streams will remain, but going forward, unifying virtual and physical components, configurations and BSS/OSS to deliver profitable services will require automation, orchestration and optimization of network elements (physical and virtual), services, traffic and applications. All of those will ultimately impact customer QoE, which is something service providers can’t afford to ignore.
Image by Carmine.shot with Creative Commons license
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