Virtualization is coming or already underway in your network with Network Function Virtualization/Software-defined Network (NFV/SDN). Long-Term Evolution-Advanced (LTE-A) and 5G are the next mobile technology evolutions in the works. And the Internet of Things (IoT) is here and is expected to explode with billions of devices and sensors over the next few years.
What is your company doing to accelerate these technology adoptions? Do you have the right tools in place to test and manage the deployment of these technologies with confidence?
Virtualization with the underlying NFV and SDN technology is intended to enable the acceleration of service delivery and increase the agility of service providers as well as potentially reduce OPEX and CAPEX costs. NFV and SDN allow network service components to be spun up (and down) on demand and will support self-optimizing networks. These elastic networks will facilitate self-service of subscribers as operators digitally transform their networks and operations. During this transition service providers need to assure the continued delivery of high-quality services. It is essential to have a seamless service assurance solution for both, legacy or traditional network nodes that will be interconnected with virtualized network functions for some time.
The next generation of LTE, LTE Advanced, is already being deployed by some mobile operators and many are investigating or already starting to work with their vendors on 5G though the standards are not yet formalized and most trials will not begin until 2018. But Network Planning, Operations and Engineering teams have to be looking at the extensibility of their service assurance solutions to handle the expected increase in network capacity and throughput as well as the expanded number of network nodes in the Radio Access Network (RAN) and the ability to handle the virtualization of the RAN with Cloud RAN (C-RAN).
The Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything (IoE) is already spawning a plethora of devices from wearables, to connected home and industrial sensors, to chat bots and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) devices, and to connected cars and more. Networks and supporting service assurance tools must support not only the explosion of these new devices communicating with each other rather with subscribers, but also allow for the varying latency and priority. These new devices do easily fall into the quality of service settings that have been established for existing voice, video and data services. Networks will have to adapt with new transport delivery schemes and service assurance solutions must accommodate that as well.
Geoffrey Moore created a model for technology adoption with his famous treatise on “Crossing the Chasm.” The first group to embrace new technologies, Early Adopters, are such strong and eager technologists that they deal with the bugs, hiccups, and challenges with new technology. These are the lab and R&D folks that get their hands dirty with new technologies. They need test gear that provides complete visibility down to protocols and hexadecimal code in order to troubleshoot and verify interoperability of network devices.
There is often a significant delay from the Early Adopter phase to the technology acceptance and adoption of the mass market or move to “Main Street” as Moore’s model explains. The time frame to “Cross the Chasm” and gain widespread technology adoption is lengthened by ignorance, lack of stability and poor quality of service of the new technology at that product life stage.
No company wants its reputation stained by poor service and failed technology introductions. In the era of social media, notices of poor service and outages get beamed all over the planet in an instant. Rolling out untested technology can be risky but rolling out technology later than the competition can be very costly. First movers gain brand awareness and recognition as well as capture those early adopter customers.
Ensuring that new technology doesn’t flop is not easy. Early warning systems provide a measure of safety. Using service assurance solutions to manage change control or the introduction of new technology is the first step. Taking a baseline reading of the network before making any change to the network gives Network Operations and Engineering the comparative measure from which to grade the network following a network change. To maintain quality of service after successfully introducing new technologies it is imperative to continuously and holistically monitor the network, service, applications and devices.
NETSCOUT takes an end-to-end approach to service assurance amid the ongoing network revolution reduces operational complexity, and cost, which leads to increased profitability and improved scalability. Bringing an all-software approach enables services providers to understand, predict, act and automate network functions, which in addition to saving the service provider money, delivers a more valuable experience to the end user.
Technology evolution is increasing in velocity and with it the pressure to adopt. Service assurance solutions have a vital role to play in meeting that challenge.