From manual to MANO: Toward next-generation management and orchestration

In telecom, effective service management and orchestration has never been so vital – or so complex. Navigating this journey is on communication service providers’ critical path.

The evolution of the telecom network is driving the digital transformation of network management. Changes have come thick and fast: mobile networks are 5G-ready, transport is largely software-defined, the radio access network domain is becoming virtualized and open. Operators are keen to create new revenue streams with exciting new services, from smart cities and retail, to connected cars and smart factories. They must shorten time-to-market and be agile enough to provision new services with the press of a button.

While operators have embraced network function virtualization (NFV) to rapidly and efficiently add capacity using containerized or virtual network functions (C/VNFs), managing these functions requires capabilities that traditional operations support systems (OSS) don’t support. Operators need an intelligent platform that provides a single pane of glass for end-to-end lifecycle management in a complex virtualized network environment.

The solution is end-to-end management and network orchestration (MANO). It it is defined as“the arrangement, sequencing and automated implementation of tasks, rules and policies to coordinate logical and physical resources in order to meet a customer or on-demand request to create, modify or remove network or service resources.”

Dealing with a complex landscape

The challenge for operators is that existing service management landscapes are typically fragmented and diverse. Different OEMs provide different network functions as a service (VNFs, CNFs, etc.) and different vendors provide different OSS applications.

Some vendors provide native integration of MANO layers with their OSS. However, even then, the OSS is typically not fully integrated and operators often require an umbrella solution to seamlessly integrate the existing OSS with MANO solutions for NFV. They need to tailor different network slices according to customer requirements at speed, while managing cost and complexity.

To operate with such dynamic networks and services, a future-proof MANO engine must be both scalable and fully integrated with these different functions and systems to cost effectively support complex network slicing at scale.

Three steps to implement next-generation OSS MANO

A structured approach is needed for analyzing, planning and delivering the most effective OSS MANO integration.

Operators must evaluate, select and configure the MANO solution that best suits their specific operating environment, network and OSS transformation strategies.

Operators need to evaluate, select and configure the MANO solution that best suits their specific operating environment, network and OSS transformation strategies.

1. With different OEMs providing MANO solutions, it’s vital to select an end-to-end orchestration layer that will seamlessly integrate with both legacy and cloud-native functions and applications.

2. The end-to-end MANO layer must be integrated with every single OSS, BSS and CSS solution, without business disruption.

3. The creation of network slice/network service with physical network functions, VNFs and CNFs in a hybrid cloud environment must be smooth and easy, providing that all-important ‘single pane of glass’.

This must happen in parallel with OSS cloudification: each application has its own roadmap, with many moving from on-premises to the hybrid cloud. The result is the ability to provision and manage the hybrid network end-to-end and apply automation and intelligence to reduce operating expenses.

Time is of the essence

Understanding the complexities and subtleties of various NFV, MANO and OSS standards, interfaces and solutions is vital. MANO transformation must leverage emerging global standards and methods for hybrid edge, access, core and transport network services and technologies. As a member of the TM Forum, Atos conforms with guidelines from the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture (ODA) and the TM Forum Open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and we have mapped our integration capabilities accordingly.

At the same time, it’s critical to assess MANO solutions using the right metrics and according to your specific requirements. Software architecture expertise is also essential to ensure seamless integration with all necessary legacy and cloud-native estates.

By implementing an integrated OSS MANO platform this way, zero-touch network operations become a reality, lowering operating costs, simplifying the configuration of services and bringing the benefits of agile, optimized and flexible virtualized network operations.

By not evaluating and integrating options properly, operators risk investing in MANO solutions that are unable to provide them with the end-to-end orchestration and lifecycle management they need. Time is of the essence. Operators must be ready for 5G network slicing and OpenRan, because the future of telecom is happening today.

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About Yogesh Bhalla
Principal Consultant, Global OSS & MANO, TMT
Yogesh has 15 years of experience in telecom and enterprise IT with certification in the public Cloud arena. Currently, he is responsible for architecting e2e OSS solutions with a primary focus on orchestration, fulfilment, assurance and network management solutions. Prior to this experience, Yogesh worked with Ericsson, Nokia and Wipro as a solution consultant in the OSS and cloud domains.