Spotlight on Tech

Before Complexity Reaches a Breaking Point

By
Sandeep Karkala
Vice President of Technology, Intelligent Operations
Rakuten Symphony
September 28, 2022
6
minute read

Service delivery is at the heart of all new service deployment and monetization possibilities that come with 5G.

But the way that services are provisioned and deployed has changed dramatically. The service assurance technology that is designed to ensure faultless performance hasn’t evolved to keep up with the technologies and network complexity that come with 4G/5G networks.

Until now. 

This week, Rakuten Symphony announced the general availability of its Service Assurance suite of products, which is an open, cloud-native solution for the next generation of networking—transforming service assurance from a siloed application to a true end-to-end capability.

Without next generation service assurance, MNOs will not be able to ensure service level agreements for their customer or tackle some of their biggest service and customer satisfaction initiatives, including automation, service orchestration, and advanced 5G enhancements such as network slicing.

Open, Cloud-Based Service Assurance

The solution is designed to provide observability across network generations and technologies and then to offer Root Cause Analysis (RCA), and Next Best Action (NBA) functions using cloud-native observability frameworks and telemetry from each network element.

The solution covers the capabilities vital to service assurance, including observability across all networks as well as including all enablers traditionally sold as separate products, such as fault management, configuration management, and performance management. The significant innovation, however, is that the suite of products is cloud-native and designed to handle today’s networks with telecom standardized and cloud-native open interfaces into any generation network.

Built on foundational elements that have contributed to significantly lower cost, provide more effectiveness, and future-proof end-to-end service assurance:

·      Observability – visualization and analysis of real-time telemetry from a more complex, dynamic, software-defined infrastructure and earlier generation proprietary networks. For 5G, this includes observability of the cloud environment, of network performance and of faults and configuration management.

·      Automation – the ability to rapidly create and operationalize automatic analysis and completion of tasks. The use of AI helps to implement KPI predictions, automated root cause analysis and next best action feature that decrease the mean time to identify (MTTI) and mean time to repair (MTTR) timeframes.

·      Scalability – a cloud-native design with microservices that scale gracefully as data volume and variety increases.

·      Cloud Platform – a common foundation that will support the transition from today’s networks and operations to the more autonomous networks of the future.

·      Agility - Anything as a service approach for meaningful decoupling of essential software components and functions, both current popular and certified open source and custom code, means the software stays relevant and is in tune with the time, adopting best in technology practices.

Rakuten Symphony Cloud-native Service Assurance is Designed for Complex Networks

The powerful suite of products provides a graceful and unified way to deliver service assurance in growing more complex networks. This complexity challenge is especially an issue for brownfield operators who have been depending on their siloed legacy service assurance platforms for decades and find themselves having to track problems using different vendor-specific systems. It is even more critical for brownfield operators to correlate failure and performance across network and technology domains to seamlessly cutover OSS to modern architecture and solutions.

Once the problem is identified, the network manager must correlate the issue across all of the service assurance systems. This is slow work at a time when real-time network applications demand fast response.

The other vector of complexity is supporting proprietary systems alongside virtualized and cloud-based networks. This is most acute in 4G and 5G stand-alone networks. 4G networks are a mix of proprietary network technology and first-generation virtualized systems. 5G networks bring strong support for cloud-native and open technologies that require real-time network feedback.

"Our Cloud-native Service Assurance solution is a breakthrough approach in an increasingly complex mobile network environment."
- Sandeep Karkala, VP Technology, Intelligent Operations, Rakuten Symphony

In designing our approach to Service Assurance, we wanted to bring strong observability and problem tracking for cloud-native environments as well as intelligent use of custom and open source software. Custom software is used for consuming, enriching, and reporting data and insights in a manner that is familiar and relevant for telco operators. Open source software is utilized for cloud-native open integrations and agility.

The nature of dynamic deployment of capabilities in 5G, combined with the continuous deployment, re-deployment of cloud-native clusters and software microservices that appear in the full 5G standard, makes the current software assurance tools with their intermittent polling data collection capabilities no longer fit for purpose. Our solution collects telemetry data from each network element in real-time, enabling continuous network observability and fast response.

While DevOps is relevant and much needed for cloud-based network agility and automation, it needs significant cultural and skillset realignment for the CSP’s to adopt DevOps successfully. The Symworld architecture and delivery model enables CSP’s to make the transition with less effort.

Conclusion

Our Cloud-native Service Assurance solution is a breakthrough approach in an increasingly complex mobile network environment.

With its support of cloud-native technology, it is an ideal solution for virtualized 4G and 5G networks, and it can tie in older networks for a “single pane of glass” management.

Service Assurance is a critical capability for maximizing revenues from today’s mobile networks, and at Rakuten Symphony, we set the standard for comprehensive solutions.

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