Virtualization is changing how we need to do service assurance

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Recently Jim Carey blogged about the ever-increasing pace of change that affects operations teams worldwide. This is particularly true of communication service providers (CSPs), who in this dynamic world face new challenges as they look to generate more revenue and improve operational efficiency.

Disruptive over-the-top service providers are now threatening traditional CSP revenue streams and margins. To stay competitive, CSPs need to tackle disruptive challenges with transformative strategies that continuously evolve network infrastructure. To be competitive, it is critical that they explore opportunities to support new and agile service offerings at significantly lower costs.

Two things are really changing how service providers need to manage their services and network infrastructure: virtualization and the automation enabled by virtualization.

The typical goals of network function virtualization (NFV) and software defined networks (SDN) are to:

  • Reduce the cost of infrastructure and speed operational agility
  • Get more and more niche services out the door

Companies need a new management and operational paradigm to improve operational efficiencies and the service lifecycle management of cloud-enabled services leveraging NFV and SDN. Services and applications are now increasingly deployed in virtualized environments, resulting in highly distributed and increasingly complex hybrid networks.

This new deployment model requires an agile and dynamic operations management solution. To leverage rapidly evolving technologies, real-time topology can be key to orchestration and service assurance in these hybrid networks. You must acquire data from sources that are constantly in a state of change before you can construct a model of the underlying network and resources.

A new IBM offering called Agile Service Manager (ASM) can help you maintain these dynamic changes to the resources and topology. ASM is a shared resource, supporting other functions in the assurance and orchestration domains. Operations teams can now uncover insights to help analyse the impact of a fault or detect whether customer experience is being correctly met. For example, Operations teams can see the details of what server a virtual machine is running on, which network function it is a part of and what service instance is its parent.

With ASM operations teams get complete up-to-date visibility and control over dynamic infrastructure and services. It is cloud-born and built on secure, robust and proven technologies.

ASM also lets you query a specific networked resource and then presents a configurable topology view of it within its ecosystem of relationships and states, both in real time and within a definable time window. You can visualize complex network topologies in real time, whether updated dynamically or on-demand. This allows you to further investigate events, incidents and performance. As a result, you can improve operational efficiency and detect and solve faster. You can reduce false alarms while improving automation and collaboration between operational teams.

Observers built into Agile Service Manager are responsible for obtaining data from a specific data source for a specified tenant. Observers are microservices which are used to read information from a data source and update the topology in the topology service. For example, the OpenStack Observer can render detailed OpenStack topologies, and delve further into their states, histories and relationships. You can see how effectively ASM is in keeping track of OpenStack environments here.

Agility and operational trust sometimes place opposing requirements on the systems that manage the lifecycle of services and virtual network functions. You need both to have a credible platform. ASM can help by extending the capabilities of the market-leading Netcool Operations Insight solution. Building on existing analytics and correlations to become truly cognitive, this new capability establishes a foundation for managing SDN and NFV environments by providing timely visibility of highly dynamic infrastructures and services.

Find out more about Netcool and IBM Operations management here.

Offering Manager - IT Service Management

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