The pandemic has changed network traffic patterns worldwide. Even as we hoped for a two-to-four week disruption, the crisis has stretched many months beyond what most of us could imagine. It’s officially safe to say that this is the new normal. While communities are trying to figure out exactly what that means for them, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have a pretty good idea what it means for their networks.
In markets with low penetration of high-speed fixed broadband connections, mobile data networks are seeing increased usage. Conversely, mobile data traffic has decreased in high-speed fixed-connection markets with in-house Wi-Fi. People are staying home and using their in-home networks (the best connection they have) for all their online needs: distance learning, remote work, social connections, entertainment.
Converging Core and Mobile Networks Elevate the Need for Automation
For different reasons, core and mobile networks have each handled pandemic-era traffic peaks and valleys well. The core network is over-provisioned and always prepared for traffic surges, while the mobile network smooths out service quality and delivery by automatically provisioning and re-provisioning based on traffic volume and congestion.
Until recently, the core network had limited automation. However, as the networks converge, new demands, coupled with the promise of diversified service offerings in the core network, have quickly elevated the need for core network automation to critical.
The Core Network is Automation-Ready
Fortunately, the core network is ready. The disaggregation and open networking trends have made their way into the core network, allowing automation to stretch into operations that previously were based on a truck roll and physical connections. Moreover, as networks converge to support cross-domain end-to-end provisioning and orchestration, automation will only increase, with network automation powered by artificial intelligence (AI) managing everything.
Network Monitoring Extends Into Network Intelligence
Aided by global network topologies for aggregated traffic, modern CSPs can extend traditional network monitoring into network intelligence, constantly evaluating service performance and the infrastructure that powers it. Organizations that dissect and translate data in unique ways can use network intelligence to segment product definitions and services, delivering more personalized offerings. Network intelligence also provides access to more realistic Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) predictions, changing the way CSPs compete. New datasets and microapplications enable evidence-based responses, improving business forecasts, and providing revelations that trigger corresponding actions.
Escaping the Rabbit Warren by Automating Planning and Design
Network planning and design, previously a rabbit’s warren of as-built documentation, maintenance records, and scheduled upgrades, becomes a closed-loop process with network models that are constantly updated using machine learning and real-time network data. To support these network intelligence techniques, network automation must increase at the same pace as network growth, adding to the need for automated network planning and design.
Conventional network design depends on the availability and reliability of transmission information. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to manually compile field measurements from in-service network equipment in an open network. Automated planning and design will fill that gap with dynamic network models, machine learning, and microapplications that connect legacy and digital infrastructure as though it were a single system. This will allow providers to take advantage of faster transponder innovations from any vendor while deploying an open network as if it were an integrated system.
Automated planning and design can eliminate costly and manual calculations, simulation studies, and field measurements, while maximizing total network capacity of the open network. Automated planning and design is one of the key enablers of the new network operations center, delivering orchestration and control in the SDN controlled network.
Want to Know More?
To learn how a Tier 1 operator optimized and simplified open optical network planning and design through network automation, read the success story: