A Cloud Approach to Operations Management Paves the Way to Virtualization
At some level, at some time during its operation within a network environment, certain software calamities will occur. The code inside an application may go haywire. The server running an application may lose its proverbial mind and forget to perform certain tasks. A router may lose its routes, or a base station forget who its neighbors are. Sometimes, even the best software will be doomed from the start if it must be manually configured. And, like warring factions, differing interpretations of an application programming interface can leave programs talking past each other.
Operations support system (OSS) software has, at times, been guilty of perpetuating these problems; and, at other times, heroically responsible for their suppression. So, as communications service providers (CSPs) begin turning to new architecture models and technologies in an effort to meet increasing demand for innovation, programmability, real-time responsiveness and openness, OSS suppliers have an opportunity to tip the scales in favor of being the hero more often than not. Tipping the scales this way will require bold thinking and near flawless execution. The execution must strive to be flawless because it will become increasingly automated.
As the number of applications running in, on, and across telecom networks grows, CSPs are also turning to these new cloud-based architectures, for reasons more to do with performance, agility, security, and time-to-market. Some OSS suppliers are doing likewise by either making their solutions available through the cloud, or making network and service management part of the cloud itself.
Managing network operations as it transitions to a cloud-like environment presents many challenges. Most major OSS suppliers have revealed or launched their cloud strategies; but these strategies have yet to be put to the test. The strategies vary from models in which suppliers host their traditional OSS solutions in the cloud as either fully licensed solutions that the customer manages, or partitioned applications that share components among customers.
Suppliers are also beginning to push their OSS solutions as on-demand applications (although the uptake on this model is still rare.) Sometimes, the cloud serves merely as a place to host a managed service. Nokia Networks, for instance, says its OSS is fully-virtualized, and operates purely from a cloud environment. Operating cloud OSS is also replete with challenges. This report will examine some of these challenges; and Nokia’s response to them.
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