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Learn to Love Your Network Again

Christain Uremovic

July 14, 2020
By Christian Uremovic
Director of Marketing

Top Five Learnings from Automated Orchestrated Network Migration

We all want the latest and greatest technology in our networks so we can save costs, enable new business models, and be more effective. But we hesitate to migrate from old to new as it is complex and difficult.

In my last blog about network migration, I talked about the three steps of automated orchestrated network migration and shed some light on its first phase, which includes data collection, network and service discovery, consolidating all information in a single common database, and providing end-to-end, comprehensive visualization in a multi-vendor environment.

Today I am going to look at the next steps of the automated orchestrated migration process and share our learnings.


Top Five Key Learnings from Automated Orchestrated Network Migration

#1: End of Life Will Kill You

Every proper automation effort needs human intelligence to plan it.  The first step for planning is to identify and agree on the migration strategy. The requirements differ from operator to operator and from network to network. What is most effective: per-node migration, per-technology migration, or per-network-segment migration? It all depends on the specific situation and case.

Typically, most operators focus on end-of-life (EOL) equipment first when it comes to migration prioritization, as EOL equipment:

  • Poses the highest risk in the network for failing
  • Is ineffective in terms of power and space consumption
  • Has high maintenance costs
  • Lacks automation capabilities
  • Is running out of spares

#2: Nobody Wins Alone

The lack of comprehensive visualization and reporting in a multi-vendor environment is well known to the industry – it was reported as the #1 use case for SDN in 2016 and is still of highest importance today, according to IHS Markit’s Optical Network Strategies Service Provider Survey – 2019, which called it “Real-time network resource/topology.”

Infinera’s software analytics tools for network migration leave a very good impression on operators that use them. Leveraging the single database from our previous migration step, we can now create reports for the selected nodes and respective technologies with the new Maestro Explorer module. The Maestro Explorer application perfectly aligns with the Analysis, Optimization, Planning process step and provides answers to combined questions like:

  • Show me all circuits that are using this EOL equipment, for this customer and passing these sites
  • Where do I have the highest concentration of, for example, DS1 circuits using a specific type of equipment?
  • If I select circuits for this customer, where do I already have the capacity in the new network to do the migration?
  • Show me all circuits that use this specific card type as defined by the part number
  • Show me all vendors’ hardware
  • Show me sites where this equipment is located
  • Show me circuits where this equipment is at the endpoints or used in transition, including bandwidth
  • Show me protection information per circuit
  • Show me equipment with low and high capacity use
  • Show me customers affected by a planned migration

Maestro Explorer further enhances the analysis capabilities of the Transcend Maestro platform. Fully integrated into Transcend Maestro, it is based on an open source stack that includes a data ingestion tool, a sophisticated search engine, and Kibana-based advanced data visualization and dashboard capabilities. Here is a snapshot with some arbitrary network site, node. and service data.

Now as we look back, we cannot emphasize enough how important the planning and analysis step is to the migration program – an investment in comprehensive analytics pays off multiple times.

#3: Measure Twice, Cut Once

My father used to tell me you can’t add centimeters back to a board you already cut – so measure it twice and cut once. That was sound advice for working around the house, but it holds true when transforming the network as well.  In the past, operators had no means to perform thorough feasibility analysis for their migration tasks due to distributed service information across multiple vendors’ platforms and OSS systems.

Migration often failed due to lack of proper up-front information, which forced rollback to be performed. The feasibility check enabled by orchestrated solutions offers alignment between the migration and the rollout of the new network technology platform. Combining the feasibility check with migration and rollout scenarios also provides a good view on what will provide the highest return on investment. With Transcend’s feasibility check capability, you can create migration scenarios and run them in a simulation environment before committing them to the network.

#4: Be Agile

While we have faced different networks, different site conditions, and different migration tasks depending on multiple factors, the key to achieving a high run rate AND high quality of execution is to make sure that the standard migration workflow is understood and automated to the greatest extent possible – without losing flexibility when priorities change. The Transcend Maestro automation platform supports a workflow engine using open source components like jBPM and enables both manual and automated (e.g., Python, Ansible) task generation.  See an example workflow in diagram #4.

A seamless workflow is created, from the decision to migrate a circuit to the detailed planning of the individual circuit migration and ending when the migration has been executed and all information updated. The workflow engine supports these partially automated task-by-task process steps with notification, follow-up, and status updates. Work order generation, end-customer information, migration planning documentation, and automated OSS/BSS updates are few extremely useful tasks within the workflow.

#5: Don’t Ask the Plumber to Be a Carpenter

You wouldn’t call the plumber to build you a table or frame out a new room on your house.  The same should be true with network migration.  Go to an expert with the right knowledge and experience. All the latest tools and functions are not effective without the right technology and process know-how and experience. Operators need a reliable partner when it comes to migrating live traffic and mission-critical data – a partner like Infinera, with decades of experience in networking repeatedly proven through successful network migrations. Combining the right software tools and the networking know-how provides the optimal setup for service providers for planning and executing any network migration and paving the way toward the successful transformation journey.

The network transformation train is rolling, and today or tomorrow you will need to migrate networks.

The flexible automation approach discussed above can help you cope with various scenarios, and is helping network operators to effectively master the “most hated” network operation task in the telecom industry.