Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile, Telefonica part of ‘Zero Touch NSM’ automation project

Deutsche Telekom HQ
Deutsche Telekom is participating in a three-month project to evaluate ways to tackle challenges associated with Network and Service Management (NSM). Image: Deutsche Telekom

Aiming to have an impact on network operations in the 5G era, Deutsche Telekom, China Mobile and Telefonica are among more than a dozen companies that are participating in a three-month project to evaluate ways to tackle challenges associated with Network and Service Management (NSM).

Running from March to June 2017, the “Zero Touch NSM” project also includes Amdocs, Ciena, Dell EMC, Ericsson, HPE, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Infosim, NEC/Netcracker, Nokia, Orchestral Networks and Viavi Solutions. 

The goal of Zero Touch NSM is to deliver a concrete guidance proposal to the industry on how the capability can be improved, with the outcome expected to have an impact on network operations in 5G.

“Automation is the future of network management,” said Kim Kyllesbech Larsen, SVP Technology Economics & Transformation at Deutsche Telekom, in a press release. “As an industry, it is essential that we come together to find a solution to the issues that are hindering the automation of operations and Network and Service Management functionalities.”

The companies acknowledged that SDN and NFV already are having an enormous impact on network operations. But to unleash the full benefits of virtualization and software defined technologies—while increasing the efficiency of network operations—they say the industry must enhance NSM network automation. Developments in edge computing, low latency networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning offer additional benefits that again can only be realized with NSM automation, and the coming introduction of 5G further raises the stakes.

While 5G is still being defined in standards organizations, it’s widely believed that SDN and NFV will play a key role. Deutsche Telekom is one of the contributors to a new white paper (PDF) that provides network operator perspectives on priorities for NFV to deliver the industry vision for 5G systems.

The paper identified common technical features in terms of NFV that should be adopted to accelerate progress and avoid duplication of specification effort across the industry. It advises that network slicing, edge computing, security, reliability and scalability should be taken into account in the context of virtualization.  

The NFV movement among telecom operators really kicked off in earnest 2012 when a group of operators penned the first white paper formally launching their initiative. An ETSI NFV Industry Specification Group provides foundational specifications to support mainstream use cases and is looking to accommodate emerging 5G technologies.

RELATED: Google lending SDN expertise to Airtel, SK Telecom

NFV and particularly SDN are concepts that have been at the foundation of the data center business for years, and companies like Google increasingly are lending their expertise to telcos. Google built its networking infrastructure by relying on common design and operational principles to help it deliver services reliably. Last week, Google announced it is partnering with mobile network operators globally, including Bharti Airtel and SK Telecom, to build a platform for operators to run their network services.