Re-inventing Network Inventory for the Virtual Age
Maintaining physical inventory has never been an exact science. As long as the maintaining process has to account for the human element, it will never be exact. Humans make mistakes. They type sevens when they mean to type sixes. They put a card in a slot on shelf two, when it was supposed to go in shelf three. But humans also improvise, intentionally, in the name of customer service; and they find ways to turn up network services despite what an inaccurate inventory tells them. One day, for better or worse, automation may eliminate both inaccuracies and improvisation. But until then, network inventory solutions and processes must adapt to support virtual and hybrid environments, with increasing accuracy and speed. This report describes the challenges ahead for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and their suppliers, as this niche area of inventory plays a much more important role at the center of fulfillment, planning, maintenance, analytics, service creation and service enablement.
The report begins with a look at the effect of virtualization on operations support systems (OSS); then, drills down into network inventory, where we analyze how physical, logical and virtual views of the network and its services must come together to support emerging architectures.
We note the extraordinary level of OSS transformations currently underway—some with the impetus of virtualization, and some without. Back office systems need to automate and become more agile, regardless of the type of network they support. Because virtualization for the network infrastructure is driven by the CSP and supplier members within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Industry Specification Group for NFV, this report drills down to the perspective of MANO—the management and orchestration working group within ETSI. MANO is defining the future of management and support in the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) environment.
Next, the report explores the concept of inventory as one part of a bigger process that coordinates network information from multiple sources; and how that affects what has historically been known as the database of record. Lastly, Stratecast examines the varied approaches that leading network inventory suppliers are taking to ensure that inventory, and the OSS it drives, can continue to play an important role in the new networks.
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