Virtualisation meets Big Data

When a match has equal partners then I fear not.”
Aeschylus.

The major OSS of the nineties and noughties can be categorised as centralised, structured (ie built on relational databases and modelling connection-oriented services) and not-quite-realtime.

I envisage the next generation will be distributed, unstructured (ie virtualised and with rapid shifts in data sources) and very real-time. Almost the antithesis of the old.

Virtualisation (ie SDN / NFV) delivers the ability to offer flexible, distributed computing. Big Data offers the ability to process unstructured data sets in huge volumes. They each offer the ability to process real-time data.

In the old model, network inventories were replicated in the “off-line” OSS database, leading to data synchronisation issues. This model worked for structured data that was permanently allocated (eg SDH’s circuit hierarchies). In the new virtualised model, services are transient, flexible and highly adaptable.

In a model where virtualisation meets Big Data, there is no need to replicate the inventory. The virtualised platform allows the network control plane to be co-resident with the management plane.

When it comes to inventories, the network devices are the single source of truth, so why not take analytics to the next step and just poll the distributed nodes (converged network / management nodes) when you need the real-time data; be it asset registers, usage patterns, performance counters, service flows, service profitability analysis, network health and so on.

This model is also less complex in terms of management interfaces, inter-connectivity between systems, multiple management layers and data replication. It becomes relatively simple to maintain as well. Every node is a collector that can be polled by your analytics engine to give customised, rather than pre-defined analysis. The analytics connects the dots rather than pre-determined interfaces and mediation.

Big Data and Virtualisation are two of the biggest buzz-words in our industry of late, but when it comes to network and service management, perhaps they become a perfect match, the revolutionary force that delivers upon the next generation of OSS where the CSP has a need for instant gratification.

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