In an effort to renovate their business models, increase innovation, cut various operational expenditures, maintain core competencies and reverse declining revenue, one operator after another is recognizing the need to virtualize their networks. However, operators need to be able to assure the services delivered over those New IP networks.
By virtualizing their networks, operators can decrease their maintenance costs and increase their service's innovation capabilities. They can also improve customer satisfaction by proactively monitoring and preventing network lifecycle events.
As virtualized services begin to roll out, while there has been a focus on automating the orchestration of these networks, little thought is being given to how to effectively monitor these new networks. Whereas, with legacy networks, the control plane and hardware were on the same device, virtualizing functions and deploying commoditized hardware with centralized controllers only complicates the assurance challenges.
Nevertheless, operators need the right end-to-end, strategic assurance solution to effectively assure virtualized networks and services -- static, non-real-time legacy service assurance solutions no longer cut it. This is because they can't properly adjust and serve the dynamic, virtualized environment of the evolving software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) world. They lack the visibility and architecture to manage these evolving environments.
Consequently, a comprehensive, strategy-focused approach to service assurance, or strategic assurance, has grown increasingly important, particularly now that the rise of virtualization is also leading to an increased need to meet stringent service level agreement (SLA) requirements and enhance the customer experience.
Strategic assurance adds business value to operations by improving time to market, providing real-time analytics and visualization of service performance, decreasing downtime and reducing opex and capex.
Strategic assurance also helps simplify business operations by quickly pinpointing passive network failures, automating more accurate truck rolls and effectively troubleshooting and diagnosing network interruptions by identifying network versus customer device issues.
These advantages ultimately lead to a dramatic reduction in customer churn via faster problem resolution and, most importantly, prevention of problems. In essence, strategic assurance gives network operators a guaranteed way to distinguish themselves from their competitors: by enriching customer experience, which gives the operator, equipped with the trust of the customer, the opportunity to sell additional services in the future.
Strategic assurance also improves customer experience -- and in turn customer retention -- by adding transparency in all customer support operations and reducing customer support calls thanks to its proactive, end-to-end service visibility through advanced analytics and network views. At heart, strategic assurance, contrary to legacy assurance solutions, shows how network performance influences customer satisfaction by solving challenges throughout existing systems.
The implementation of strategic assurance also gives operators the time and resources they need to concentrate on core competency while providing real-time visualization of service performance and reducing downtime and mean time to repair. It improves the time to market of new services and intelligently correlates data across disparate network layers to manage and assure real-time services based on what the user is experiencing rather than what the operator is seeing.
With traffic loads expected to increase and the inevitable deployment of NFV and SDN nears, the challenge of being able to measure and meet optimal service performance will continue to snowball for operators in the years to come. After all, the key to NFV and SDN success is meeting stringent SLA requirements and enriching customers' expectations and overall experience. Strategic assurance, by helping operators monitor real-time, actionable data in their networks' daily operations, will consequently grow in necessity as more environments become virtualized.
— Anand Gonuguntla, co-founder and CEO, Centina Systems, special to The New IP