Managing automations

Making the business case for NFV isn’t difficult in one sense; we already know that the only thing that can really drive NFV from its current point to early success is operations cost reduction through service automation. The problem for vendors is that only seven or eight vendors can actually provide the essential tools. You have to automate services from top to bottom, end to end, which means you have to start with OSS/BSS processes and work your way down to management processes. Operators know now that this is going to take two or three levels of orchestration, created either by layering interdependent technologies or through a single unified model. If that can be done, then opex savings could easily reach ten cents per revenue dollar, which would be equivalent to more than half the operators’ capital budget.
The problem here is that operations savings through service automation doesn’t really sell new equipment. In fact, you could get a better ROI from not transforming hardware at all, at least for the first four years. There are few vendors who would be willing to do the heavy lifting to drive NFV success when “success” would involve little incremental hardware spending
Tom Nolle

Tom is on the money (sorry for the bad pun here). The SDN / NFV story is inextricably entwined with OSS for the fact that SDN / NFV only occurs if the benefits (particularly cost savings) can be realised. And the benefits only occur if automation can drive significant efficiency.

Management of an SDN / NFV stack introduces more layers to manage and to track virtual entities through. This adds layers of automation processes and layers of correlations. For example, there’s the application stack to manage (eg via TOSCA) as well as the devices or VNFs (eg via NETCONF/YANG) as well as networks (eg via NMS).

OSS often struggle with the complexity of automation as it is. These extra dimensions of automation complexity mean a whole new way of thinking. The whole automation stack will need constant monitoring and grooming.

Auto-scaling technologies abstract some of the complexities but as the manager of managers, the OSS still needs to ensure those technologies are building those platforms efficiently. Fun stuff!

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