OSS For Next-Generation
BY DEEPAK SWAMY &
New network management challenges face service providers as they
increasingly deploy voice and multimedia services on packet networks.
Next-generation packet network-based telephony services (NGN telephony
services) call for next-generation operations support systems (NGOSS) that
are able to manage delivery of the entire portfolio of services from end
to end. These systems must be able to support the flexible modeling and
definition of NGN telephony services. This is particularly important with
the emerging new application-based services such as Web-enabled
conferencing and collaboration, integrated voice and data managed services
for call centers, and personal productivity services. The new generation
of services requires management systems to manage not just the underlying
networks, but the end-to-end service as it is delivered in an
application-specific context to the customer in a multi-vendor
NGN telephony services are being deployed on a complex infrastructure
that is layered on other networks (e.g., IP over MPLS or ATM) and that
must seamlessly interoperate with existing TDM networks. The multi-vendor
environment of next-generation architectures creates challenges in fault
(correlation) and performance management. Softswitch technology is
beginning to reach critical mass in major deployments. However, the
challenge is to develop systems and tools that can manage the service from
end-to-end and assure delivery for each individual customer according to
their individual service level priorities. Finally, the service provider
must be able to offer the new services at price points that are similar to
TDM-based telephony services.
Taking a Functional View
Migration to packet networks creates a new set of management challenges
both in managing the infrastructure and service within the service
providerï¿½s own domain and in the end-to-end service ï¿½as deliveredï¿½
to the customer. These issues may be categorized within the framework of
the TeleManagement Forumï¿½s eTOM (Telecom Operations Map) which describes
three key groups of OSS functions.
Key areas to address in developing the OSS requirements for the service
fulfillment function include:
ï¿½ Network interconnect provisioning.
ï¿½ Signaling link provisioning (e.g., SIP trunks).
ï¿½ Service-to-network modeling.
ï¿½ Customer order management and activation.
A key component of the new requirements will include the capability to
manage the distributed nature of the NGN telephony services
infrastructure. In one of the major changes from TDM provisioning,
provisioning activities will need to be repeated across this distributed
infrastructure (e.g., n times for n media servers, and the like).
New and improved performance, fault, and service level management
capabilities are essential for a successful transition to NGN services.
These functions enable service and revenue assurance and can generate a
robust ROI. By measuring and baselining key areas such as call processing,
transport quality, and per-customer metrics, operations groups can ensure
customer retention and satisfaction by delivering services that meet
expectations. New metrics and measurement techniques -- close to the
softswitch applications -- must be created and customized for VoIP and NGN
services. Further, service providers must be able to quantify the service
and business impact of performance issues and faults in a repeatable
manner with ï¿½learning systemsï¿½ that compute such impacts instead of
using the ï¿½codebookï¿½ approach.
Integrating performance and fault data together with near-real time
traffic data analysis enables service providers to manage the service from
end to end, and from top to bottom. This will be particularly important as
NGN telephony services require such extensive interoperation across
service provider and customer domains.
For NGN telephony services to be successful, service providers must be
able to enable usage-based and session-based billing without a forklift
upgrade of the existing billing systems. This will likely require a keen
focus on mediation and rating systems.
The 1996 Telecommunications Act stipulates inter-LEC interconnection, and
there are established mechanisms for carrier-to-carrier compensation.
Inter-carrier reciprocal compensation requires the generation of properly
formatted call data records that enable each carrier to declare the
percentage of local usage and measure the amount of traffic being
exchanged in terms of minutes of use.
Several organizations are proposing alternative approaches to
inter-carrier settlements, and this remains one of the most important
issues surrounding billing for NGN telephony. Particularly when one
considers varying codec use, and the support for multiple classes of
service, it becomes imperative that service providers are able to
transparently exchange usage- or session-based rating information and
capture such information for revenue reconciliation purposes.
Taking a Process-Oriented View
NGN Service Management requires changes and new approaches in many areas:
ï¿½ Business Management Layer (BML) -- Management of dial plans, billing
data management, etc.
ï¿½ Service Management Layer (SML) -- Modeling and management of end to
end service, customer configuration, voice features and catalog,
performance and service quality assurance, inventory, CALEA compliance,
ï¿½ Network Management Layer (NML) -- Management of faults, configuration
and subscriber end-points, SS7, PRI, etc. Also management of the control
technologies including H.323, SIP and MGCP.
ï¿½ Element Management Layer (EML) -- Management of multi-vendor gateways,
softswitches, IP phones, call managers, NAT and firewall issues.
By implementing next-generation operations support systems in a
synchronized manner with infrastructure evolution and replacement from TDM
to packet networks, service providers can ensure their ability to flexibly
model services from end to end, mapping the service to its underlying
domains and networks. Using NGOSS, service providers will be able to
realize a new paradigm of management consolidation -- the ability to
manage and aggregate customer, service, and network-level data by NOC, by
region, by legal or virtual entity. This capability will grow increasingly
important to service providersï¿½ ability to pro-actively manage their
services and revenue streams as NGN telephony services erase many
traditional provider and enterprise boundaries, and services traverse both
packet and TDM networks -- a scenario that is likely to persist for many
years to come.
Deepak Swamy is senior vice president and chief strategy officer at
Trendium, Inc., an International Packet Communications Consortium (IPCC)
member company and a developer of service intelligence OSS software based
in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Michael Khalilian is chairman and president of the International
Packet Communications Consortium (IPCC), an industry consortium of
carriers and solutions providers advancing packet-based communication
technologies. For more information, please visit www.packetcomm.org.
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