Is physical inventory very logical?

We all live every day in virtual environments, defined by our ideas.”
Michael Crichton

Network inventory has always been a fundamental building block of a full-service OSS. Many of today’s OSS were designed at a time when inventory was physical, whereby network devices were tangible, physical objects. This made object hierarchies relatively simple – one rack could house multiple devices, each device/chassis could hold multiple cards and each card could present multiple physical ports into which a cable could connect.

At that time, even the logical inventory like circuits or paths traversed physical devices in a structured, hierarchical model such as PDH, SDH, etc and it was relatively easy to identify physical inventory outages. These hierarchies made it easier to build OSS around pre-defined relational data models.

The trend of adding virtualisation onto many physical devices in the modern network makes it more difficult to build pre-defined hierarchies. For example, logical routers are able to leak routes to other logical routers within a single physical device (ie a device within a device).

This makes identification of logical inventory relationships (eg MPLS services across cross-domain platforms on virtualised environments), far more complex to track from end-to-end than the old nailed up circuits in an SDH network. Your ability to provide capacity planning, impact analysis, SLA measurements, redundancy planning, etc are dependent upon your visibility of end-to-end data relationships. This means that your OctopOSS needs to be highly flexible with its object model.

How does your OSS handle the virtualised infrastructure in modern-day networks?

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