Inventory systems, which hold essential data about a communications service provider’s (CSP) network and services, are a core part of any OSS architecture. CSPs’ networks have constantly grown and evolved technologically, but their inventory systems have sometimes not kept pace.
5G deployment is a watershed event that truly exacerbates the impact on inventory systems (and OSS in general), making modernization an urgent imperative.
There are five reasons inventory modernization is critical:
1. 5G networks are hybrid & dynamic
5G has catalyzed massive change in the way networks are designed and operated. 5G networks are highly dynamic and their configuration changes rapidly. Accurate network data served instantly is fundamental to 5G network operation, requiring a real-time inventory capable of tracking the continuously reconfiguring network.
Example: spinning-up new network functions
Automated network function placement and instantiation depend on multiple types of inventory data, including the availability and location of compute and storage resources. Such automated decisions need to be made quickly and can only happen if up-to-date data is instantly available and accurate.
2. 5G networks are automated
5G networks must employ a high degree of automation because they are too complex for the manual operations typically used to manage previous network generations. Automated operations require instant access to end-to-end, accurate network resource and service data. This data is held in the inventory, making it essential for 5G’s closed-loop operations.
Example: automated network slice management
Automated network and service orchestration systems can instantly access and “understand” the end-to-end network topology – from the RAN, across the edge, transport and core –supporting private and public cloud infrastructure in order to instantiate network slices. After the slices have been instantiated, automated, closed-loop service assurance systems maintain SLAs by automatically assessing the service impact of any network faults, reconfiguring services if necessary, and taking topology-aware corrective actions in parallel.
3. The network service overlay is critical
Traditionally, inventory systems for wireless networks focused on managing physical and logical network layers rather than tracking the service layer. This is not sufficient for 5G operations. Instantiating and managing a 5G network slice requires slice management and orchestration systems to have access to the end-to-end network infrastructure supporting the slice. The solution lies in an inventory system that can be truly multi-dimensional in scope, containing not only the traditional physical and logical network underlay data, but also the service overlay, as well as virtualized and cloud-based network infrastructure.
4. The network and OSS meet in the cloud
In the past, inventory systems were typically limited to on-premise operations and needed to be sized appropriately due to their limited scalability. Deploying a cloud-native inventory system on a private or public cloud enables lower total cost of ownership, higher agility, zero downtime and the ability to easily scale the OSS as the network grows. Moreover, cloud-native inventory systems enable CSPs to adapt to changes in an agile manner with minimal disruption – in stark contrast to the previous generation inventory systems that needed careful planning of any upgrade.
5. Inventory data is fragmented
Inventory data is often distributed in multiple inventories, many of which were built using legacy technologies, which are today approaching their end-of-life. Moreover, the number of inventories tends to increase over time as CSPs add new network technologies and move into new lines of business, either organically or via acquisition. A modern inventory system must have inherent capabilities to counteract this ongoing data fragmentation, thereby minimizing the impact of data fragmentation on CSP efficiency, and automatic processes, and providing operations personnel with an end-to-end view of the network and associated services.
5 steps to modernize your inventory
Previously, ‘big bang’ inventory consolidations were the method of choice to modernize inventory systems. However, a tailored combination of inventory federation and consolidation offers a much superior and faster path to breaking down inventory data silos and modernizing the network data layer, while maximizing use of existing data sources.
Below are five steps for accelerating inventory modernization using a combination of federation and consolidation:
- Analyze and evaluate existing inventory ecosystem
- Modernize strategic inventory
- Federate and harness inventory data
- Provide a unified data layer to consumers
- Consolidate and retire non-strategic inventories
End-result: a modernized, 5G-ready inventory and data layer
With the deployment of a dynamic, cloud-native inventory, including a federation layer that exposes consolidated data for network and services, northbound orchestration systems and operations personnel will have a comprehensive, real-time view they need of all network domains, from the service overlay to the resource underlay, including the outside plant.
This unified network and service data layer accelerates all facets of network operations, from network deployment and expansion, to service fulfillment and assurance – not just for 5G, but for current and future network service offerings and infrastructure.
For more information, download the full whitepaper and visit Amdocs Open Network Inventory.
Author: Jose Carlos Mendez, Global Product Manager, Amdocs Open Network