Over the last 10 years, communications service providers have been striving to roll out the next generation of services that include voice, video, Wi-Fi, wireless – and all the bandwidth customers can possibly digest. To accomplish this, providers need a more agile infrastructure to provision complex service offerings, across multiple platforms, hungry set-top boxes, smartphones and an army of tablets.

Over time the service assurance base has atrophied. If you open the hood on any operations center, you’ll see network management tools that have been installed for 15-plus years. These tools include IBM Netcool, EMC SMARTS, Infovista, CA and the list goes on. Before next-generation services were conceived, these tools worked fine for fault and performance management, as well as root-cause analysis, within specific domains.

Service assurance manager of managers

This infrastructure management approach is no longer valid and is incapable of meeting the needs of end users who want to access information that’s geometrically dispersed over an extremely complex infrastructure. Service providers need end-to-end visibility across all elements of operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) to assure service delivery. The need a service assurance MoM (manager of managers).

It’s just common sense that operators cannot provision services if they have no idea of the operational integrity of each network device within each domain. Yesterday’s methods of trying to do this with legacy management systems and using overlay networks will never cultivate the new services. Legacy tools will never be able to correlate the myriad problems between fault performance and real-time service assurance. Without this, service providers will never realize the lucrative promises that the billable, next-generation services are poised to deliver.

The lack of management visibility gets worse as modern techniques that have proved to be a boon in traditional data centers and enterprise networks, create an additional layer of obscurity. Case-in-point: virtualization inhibits network visibility – there is no view into fiber, copper, satellites or even Wi-Fi networks. The typical management approach has been to buy best-of-breed tools to oversee each domain separately, but this has proven difficult at best. Let’s face it, legacy management tools cannot help next-generation network service providers because they are built to view IP solely in a software-containedd, packet-switched silo.

What’s needed is an approach that includes a unified service assurance MoM to deliver end-to-end visibility and assurance correlation across any domain, whether it’s TDM, DSL, IPTV, 2G, 3G or whatever other future protocol architects can dream up.

Catalyst shows the way

This is not a pipe dream. To prove it, Federos has teamed with eir, Smart Dublin, Galileo, Liverpool University and MICTA to present the Customer-centric Service Assurance Catalyst at TM Forum Live! This proof of concept project proves how a customer experience visualization platform can enable service providers to predict and manage incidents from inside and outside the network, offering rapid notification to impacted customers and faster incident resolution times.

This approach is more than just a new graphical user interface. Data is gathered from multiple participating systems as well as from external sources (for example, traffic, weather and flood warnings), to provide a graphical dashboard that visualizes network services from a customer’s point of view. Any potential incidents are quickly flagged in the service management center (or mobile app) and can then be managed directly from the dashboard with responses automatically activated, status updates, resolution monitored and customers and third parties immediately notified.

We are excited to demonstrate how enterprise, telco, smart city and Internet of Things environments can use a single data analytics and visualization platform to pre-empt and rapidly resolve incidents impacting service and customers. Visit the Catalyst in Nice for a demonstration.