Why a single, unified view of your network is the key to unlocking effective network performance management

Why a single, unified view of your network is the key to unlocking effective network performance management

1. Vanilla Plus: Why is network performance management so important for the telecoms industry?

Gorka Esturo, Polystar: The network should be a problem-free asset that allows customers to enjoy and experience your services. They should not notice any issue or degradation. Since the network is the most important asset, it’s essential that it delivers. To achieve this, you need a comprehensive Network Performance Management (NPM) framework that spans all use cases and domains, providing both macro and micro views of your estate.

So, when we talk about NPM, we mean a focus on the capability of network systems to deliver according, to expectations. When you acquire equipment, you do so based on certain requirements and assumptions – measuring performance validates that the solution does do what it should, according to specifications and agreed parameters. Systems in telecoms network must deliver – not just operationally, but also for customers.

2. What steps do operators need to take to optimise performance management?

Put simply, you need to know what you are talking about! You need the capability to see what’s happening in the network through continuous observations, so that you can make an accurate diagnosis – and then consider the best way to ensure that the right corrective measures can be taken.

3. Why is this different from other approaches?

The information that fuels NPM comes from the network. This is important, because it doesn’t require active campaigns or data capture programmes – such as drive tests – which, in turn, require resources and incur costs. Such actions only create snapshots, capturing data at a certain time.

NPM, gives you a single view, 24×7, across the whole network – and ensures vendor independence. All network systems, irrespective of the supplier, have reporting and monitoring interfaces that provide key data. We collect, aggregate and process this data, generating a complete view of network operational performance, regardless of the origin of the solutions in your network.

4. How do you know that what you are collecting is accurate?

It’s a question of trust. It is true that sometimes you may obtain incorrect or invalid data. Real NPM means that you must be able to spot such errors and identify them – deviations from the norm must be filtered. Validating data quality is essential – and anything that doesn’t offer this capability will provide false reports. Data reliability can never be entirely guaranteed – but our solutions have the intelligence to flag errors, ensure they are eliminated, while delivering consistent performance.

5. How does this lead to a macro view of network status that you mentioned?

You have a ubiquitous eye – everywhere, all the time. This means that, through time, you can map trends and see how the network evolves. This can be combined with other sources of data to build the foundational overview you need. As a result, you gain a comprehensive picture, that also evolves with the real situation.

6. What else can you do with this data?

We feed the clean data to systems that can take remedial and corrective actions, such as those from our automation products delivered by Elisa Automate. This creates the opportunity to introduce operational and assurance automation to all domains in the network – going into the core, transport, IMS and beyond. Elisa handles the automation, while we provide the data to drive decision making.

And, it’s not just classical OSS data. We capture data from any relevant source. Fault management information, alarms from other systems, and so on. A key advantage we bring is that we can easily and quickly spin-up new interfaces and resource adapters to collect new data and integrate this with the overall view – enriching it and increasing the value of the network overview / picture.

7. Looking to the future, what will be the impact of virtualisation, transformation to the telco cloud and 5G?

We’re kind of agnostic to virtual resources – so long as we have a source of data, we can work with it! There’s no challenge for us here as such, so it’s easy for us to support an operator through its virtualisation journey.

The problem with 5G is that it will increase the volume of data exponentially – consider the density of radio cells that’s required for 5G coverage, for example. Not only will we have the main services, there may be new dynamic services enabled by slices. And, there will be new connected devices, so how do you tackle this?

This demands hugely efficient storage and processing capabilities – the ability to choose the right indicators from the data streams available is essential here. You can follow the standards to a certain extent, but in the end you must also have the expertise to make appropriate judgements – and that’s hard. You can’t acquire this overnight – but our deep experience enables us to adapt easily to the new dynamic world enabled by 5G.

8. Can you share some examples from your experience in working with operators?

Well, all operators are different. They want to see different things – so creating the right dashboards for each operator is essential. They need to see what they need to and be able to take the right action. Moreover, the trends for each will be different, so you need to be able to make predictions based on different data sets tuned to each case. The capability to raise alarms based on trends and weighting criteria – which can be dynamic, based on what happens – is essential. These alarms must be then sent to the right place, which will differ from operator to operator. So the problems are the same, but the environment is different in almost every case.

9. What key benefits will operators obtain?

The capability to measure independently, continuously and automatically the status of the network and its performance – dynamically and across the entire network and service footprint. It’s quite simple really – but in practice very demanding! NPM is well-established, but it changes all the time. It’s essential not to overlook the data you already have, because it provides invaluable insights to protect your reputation and assets – and support your growth and evolution.

This article was originally published in Vanilla Plus.