Evolving service assurance: The essence of customer experience
The most important measure of any customer experience is whether the product or service they are using works properly. That’s what telecom service assurance is all about – and it’s getting harder and more complex.
If a telecoms service isn’t working, the fact is that customers aren’t concerned about why or how the problem is occurring: assuring a service means maintaining the integrity and performance of a customer’s connection, irrespective of how they accessing it or what device they are using.
In recent years, communication service providers (operators) have made the dramatic shift from voice traffic to the more crowded data market. Customer expectations for service quality are rising, while competition is increasing. Operators are constantly required to do more with less – lower budgets and fewer employees – while quickly adapting to new network technologies, industry standards and regulations. The advent of cloud, software-defined networks and virtualized network functions brings additional complexity, with the need to understand how these technologies should be integrated with legacy infrastructure.
Given all these changes and the significant investments that have already been made, effective service assurance now requires many different components to work together seamlessly. Data from growing numbers of sources and underlying technologies must be collected and analyzed to enable operators to find and fix problems effectively.
Unlike the relatively monolithic environments for which legacy service assurance platforms and operations were designed, modern telecommunications businesses run on complex, dynamic ecosystems that encompass in-house, supplier and partner solutions and technologies (including 5G, IoT and edge).
Vendor-specific approaches to service assurance can no longer deliver the required levels of efficiency. Service assurance applications and processes from capacity management to fault management and performance management – tend to be siloed and diverse.
Simplifying and automating service assurance
In the face of this complexity, operators are looking for ways to address performance, cost and efficiency challenges. In our view, the best service assurance solutions have two characteristics in common.
Operators are moving away from legacy tools and converging on a simpler model aligned with international standards set by the TM Forum and ETSI. By selecting and deploying the right umbrella service assurance solution, they can integrate new and existing infrastructure using open standard interfaces instead of using vendor-specific approaches. This means that operators can then easily unplug legacy and plug-in modern replacements (such as fault management), all with a standard interface.
With automation bringing important cost, productivity and accuracy benefits, operators can no longer afford to maintain siloed organizations and systems. Processes, applications, culture and behaviors must all be reengineered to prepare them to be automated in line with global standards.
Working with telecoms operators and their partners, Atos delivers service and network assurance solutions for multi-vendor networks that deliver fault, performance, capacity and incident management across a wide variety of multi-vendor networks and technologies. Using a library of network elements, element management and OSS interfaces and AI/ML capabilities, these solutions can capture network and service events, determine root causes, analyze impacts and report their findings.
While simplification and automation are key drivers for creating more efficient service assurance operations, they are also steps along the path to closed-loop operations.
In the past, network operations were mainly reactive. When a problem happened, a ticket was created and sent to the appropriate department for root cause analysis and resolution.
In today’s automated, closed-loop network operations, problems are detected proactively by ML algorithms. Root cause analysis powered by artificial intelligence identifies and triggers the best remedial action with minimal or no human intervention.
Towards the self-healing network
Of course, operators cannot ensure service reliability without a comprehensive view of utilization, performance and quality derived from all affected infrastructure, applications and customers.
Implementing a holistic, next-generation service assurance solution enables operators to effectively integrate new and existing infrastructure reporting, rationalize alarms, pinpoint the root causes of problems and identify the impacts of faults and failures.
We are now moving to the era of the self-healing network, which will enable a shift from reactive service assurance to proactive, predictive and pre-emptive service monitoring, management and assurance. In this new world, operators will be able to solve problems before they happen. Thanks to the next-generation service assurance that is now possible, that world is not far away.
We are now moving to the era of the self-healing network, enabling the shift from reactive service assurance to proactive, predictive and pre-emptive service monitoring and management.