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Maximizing fibre speed and reliability through advanced orchestration and assurance solutions
Wed, 20th Sep 2023

The increasing demand for faster and more dependable connectivity in the digital age has given rise to the widespread use of Fibre optics, fundamentally altering our digital interactions. A recent report by Gartner highlights the growing preference among consumers for gigabit fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services, underscoring the significance of modern connectivity. It is projected that by 2025, around 60% of Tier-1 service providers will embrace 10 Gigabit Symmetrical-PON (XGS-PON) technology. However, despite this growth, Fiber broadband faces challenges such as slow installation, connectivity issues, network fragmentation due to the use of diverse technologies, delay in service provisioning, unreliable connectivity leading to poor CX, and inability to fulfil network requirements due to legacy systems, among others.

To overcome these challenges, service providers must pivot towards automation and data-driven decision-making in network management. This transition will lead to efficient deployment, operation, and maintenance of networks while furnishing valuable insights into performance. Achieving this transformation calls for the adoption of appropriate technology enablers that facilitate zero-touch provisioning, near-zero-touch operations, and comprehensive network insights, all of which accelerate service setup.

Fast-tracking Fiber: Essential enablers for network transformation success

The lifecycle of a fibre network encompasses various stages: planning, design, orchestration, and assurance. This article explores the key enablers vital for effective orchestration, assurance, and visualization.

Through the implementation of these enablers, service providers can expedite service setup by up to 60%, accelerating their journey towards "Fiber for Future".

1) Orchestrate Fiber and integrated service for network service activation:
A traditional Fiber network orchestration encounters operational limitations and a lack of system collaboration. However, adopting a modernized approach rooted in the TM Forum ODA principles offers the advantages of scalability, automation, and enhanced efficiency. A modernized Fiber network orchestration solution is founded on a layered architecture, which in turn eliminates reliance on vendors and the need for custom coding.

Recommendations
• Ensure uniformity in the information model (Information Framework) across functionalities (Application Framework), processes (Business Process Framework), and integrations (OpenAPIs) by using TM Forum ODA for accurate and timely service delivery.
• Use Open API-based integration like Service Inventory (TMF-638), Resource Inventory (TMF-639), Activation and Configuration (TMF-640) and Service Order Request (TMF-641) to enable seamless communication between different systems involved in E2E service activation processes such as order management, inventory management, network configuration, and service activation, to seamlessly exchange data and execute tasks in a synchronized manner.
• Build a Center of Excellence for modelling and orchestration design stages to execute a unified vision across service streams.
• Enable E2E visibility into product, service, and resource specifications through unified service modelling.

2) Ensure a reliable Fiber network with automated detection of issues and remediation:
The fibre network assurance process involves identifying and resolving issues. In the traditional method, pinpointing faults can be time and labour-intensive. This often involves manually inspecting extensive fibre networks and coordinating with various parties. For instance, restoring internet connectivity may entail manually diagnosing issues with the Optical Line Terminal (OLT), creating a service ticket, logging into the system and initiating a reboot. In the modernized approach, an AI/ML engine can leverage historical data analysis to identify issues and propose appropriate remedial actions.

Recommendations
• Utilize a vendor-agnostic, scalable, cloud-native, and cost-effective assurance solution to effectively manage intricate and multifaceted hybrid networks, which typically involve a combination of legacy networks with modern cloud-based networks.
• Build a flexible and adaptable data ingestion layer to collect data from various Fiber network elements, network managers or domain controllers. It should support multi-domain, multi-vendor, and multi-technology integrations and facilitate communication through multi-protocols.
• Use Prometheus, a time series database that works by polling metrics endpoints and processing data exposed by endpoints.
• Produce dashboards in Grafana for various Fiber network components (OLT, ONT, RG, BNG, L2 Switch, etc.) and services (Internet, VOIP, IPTV and others)
• Take a powerful diagnostic engine and troubleshooting approach to effectively manage complexities and order fallouts in Fiber networks. E.g., Use Nokia Network Analyzer - Fibre (NA-F) or a customized tool based on open-source technology to test and analyze fibre optic networks.

3) Achieve a holistic view of Fiber networks through a real-time visualization framework:
The use of multiple network technologies and complex topologies makes it difficult for service providers to obtain a real-time view of the entire network. Therefore, it is necessary to have a comprehensive and real-time view of network infrastructure to gain insight. The Fibre network visualization framework aims to provide stakeholders with a 360⁰ view of the Fibre network, including events and alarms, inventory topology, and other relevant information.

Recommendations
• Build a federation layer of inventories and network alarms, events, logs, and traces using Elasticsearch or Neo4j as a data store.
• Ingest monitoring integrations, incidents, and alarm data in common data structures from existing and new platforms in a data store using specific adapters based on Python.
• Store fibre network data in JSON files in the inventory model to leverage several advantages in terms of flexibility, compatibility, accessibility, and scalability.
• Leverage tools such as ArcGIS, OpenStreetMap, and Google Maps to support geographical visualization by integrating them with the visualization framework.

The projected business benefits of advanced network orchestration and assurance solutions are 60% faster service provisioning, a 30-50% reduction in manual workload due to closed-loop automation, and 50 70% faster Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR).

I thank my colleague Rohit Karthikeyan (Manager) for contributing to this article.