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The Single Most Hated Task in Telecom – Finally Automated!

Christain Uremovic

April 30, 2020
By Christian Uremovic
Director of Marketing

How network automation can save countless hours during a network migration

To leverage the opportunities of 5G and the Converged Interconnect Network (CIN), operators need to introduce new technology into their networks that is significantly more scalable, cost-optimized, programmable, and automation-ready. However, rack space and power limitations often prevent the installation of additional hardware.

One way to dramatically save costs, free up rack space, and reduce power consumption is to migrate services to new equipment, eliminating legacy equipment from the network. But these aren’t the only reasons to consider modernizing your network infrastructure. Network migration can also:

  • Simplify the network by cleaning up the mixed bag of vendor platforms, generations, and legacy protocols
  • Reduce power consumption by eliminating inefficient equipment from the network
  • Eliminate proprietary equipment that lacks monitoring and telemetry reporting capabilities
  • Increase network scalability as legacy equipment generally lacks scale for today’s use cases
  • Eliminate network islands that lack advanced synchronization capabilities
  • Save rack space as legacy equipment is multiple times larger than today’s equivalents
  • Eliminate service risk due to equipment that is at end of life and/or end of service

In spite of these benefits, network migration continues to be the most postponed task in our industry, and often is deferred until there is no alternative due to unavailability of parts or support. Operators report that one of the top reasons for continuing to drag their feet is that 50% of the service migrations they have executed have gone wrong.

I think it is fair to say that the key reasons network migrations fail are a lack of software automation tools and a lack of know-how or experience. Taking a closer look, when asked what their number-one barrier to migration is, operators report that it is lack of end-to-end service visibility. Services today operate throughout the network, traversing multiple layers and various equipment from different vendors and vintages. In many cases, it is very cumbersome to capture all the required information systematically and accurately. Other challenges include a disconnect between network data and planned network data, no clean up in past years, equipment still operating despite being at end of service, a complex NMS/OSS landscape, complicated processes, and error-prone manual handover information.

But all these challenges result in the perfect case for SDN!

Orchestrated Network Migration

SDN orchestrated network migration can overcome all the issues outlined above. Utilizing an SDN solution like Infinera’s Transcend, in combination with a good amount of experience and networking know-how, like Infinera’s 30 years of networking experience, makes for a very powerful approach to mastering network migration. Let’s take a closer look how an orchestrated approach can help operators improve their efficiency. Network migration typically has the following steps: discovery and visualization; analysis, optimization, and planning; and migration execution.

The first major hurdle when migrating almost all large-scale networks is performing adequate network discovery and analysis in a multi-vendor environment. For example, the OSS/BSS and/or other support systems may not provide the required end-to-end information, so manual work is required to capture that information and build a database.

Capturing accurate network information in an automated way is a huge migration process improvement and provides the fundamental basis for all other activities that follow. A centralized SDN controller that captures information from various vendors, vintages, and layers is the main tool that enables this. However, here most of the SDN controller systems on the market fail to provide the right interfaces for proper adaptation for legacy third-party equipment, so it is critical to choose the right SDN controller and ensure an experienced team and partner when the time comes for the vendor selection process.

Network Discovery and Visualization

The target is to create a single and accurate data source and topology for planning. Collecting data can sometimes be very tricky, and multiple sources need to be considered to ensure accurate information on equipment and services.

In many cases we have seen different information presented with different sources – e.g., planning, OSS, and network elements can have different information. Once we identify the proper source or sources, the information is imported into the SDN orchestration system, and end-to-end service visualization and topology is available.

At Infinera, our Transcend Software Suite offers powerful tools to visualize, group, filter, and identify your circuits from different aspects and layers and from end to end. Here is an example of an end-to-end view of an Ethernet pseudowire (PWE2) traversing multiple layers and multiple network elements across multiple vendors in a single view.

Additional visualization, like three-dimensional Layer 0 to Layer 3 views and synchronization views, also aid in getting a full 360-degree picture of the network and its services, which is necessary to enable thoughtful planning and successful network migration.

Network discovery and visualization provides the basis for all the other steps in a network migration. In our next blog, we will talk about the next step in the process, optimization, planning, and migration, and explore additional software automation tools that are critical to enable operators to master their network migrations. Stay tuned for additional enhancements of the migration process!