Network Discovery and Analytics – The Evolution (Part 1)

Let us look at why OSS Network discovery systems came into existence, how they evolved over years and in our opinion the areas in which it would play a critical role going forward.

Most Tier-1 and Tier-2 service providers have at some point in time invested in building one or more inventory system which would work as a central repository for functions like Planning, Design, Fulfillment and Assurance. For these functions to have a reliable and up-to-date view of the network, it is important that depth and breadth of information is captured by the inventory. By breadth, I mean the ability to store information from multiple device types from multiple device vendors. And by depth I mean the ability to store physical inventory and also logical inventory for multiple technologies like PDH, SDH/Sonet, DWDM, Ethernet, ATM, FR, IP, MPLS, xDSL, FTTx, 2G, 3G, LTE etc. These Inventories have largely been maintained/updated by manual data entry and in the event of weak process or lack of discipline in following processes; these systems would very quickly go out of synch with the network. And hence OSS Network discovery systems first came into existence in order to help keep inventories up-to-date with the real world. Towards this intent, OSS Discovery systems needed to take care of the following requirements.

1) Data that needs to be acquired from the network

  • Ability to perform shallow discovery i.e. discovery of physical fabric (Physical inventory like Racks, Shelves, Cards, Ports) from most leading-class networking equipment vendors based on standards like SNMP Entity Mib-2, TMF 814 etc.
  • Ability to discover deep logical information like vlans, ip interfaces, ip subnets etc again using standard mibs (like RFC 2233, RFC 2674), MTNM etc.
  • Ability to discover inter-connectivity (PTOPO) between devices wherever possible

2) How data needs to be acquired from the network

  • A lot of device vendors equipment cannot be discovered using standard SNMP interfaces and hence the need to be able to discover using other network management protocols like TL1, MML, CMIP, Corba, WebServices.
  • Many a times Network operations teams are not comfortable with multiple IT systems (N/EMS, Discovery, Fulfillment, Assurance etc) connecting directly to the devices for multiple reasons like worried about resource consumption on devices which may affect revenue generating traffic and access control list and login configurations on all devices need to be modified for discovery servers to access the device. This may seem like a trivial one time activity, but a few large Tier 1 operators which have strong process in place; this activity can run into a few months.

And hence discovery systems were forced to interface with north bound interfaces of N/EMS systems or gateways in order to perform discovery. These NBI APIs on a lot of occasions end up being propriety or customizations done on standard specifications.

For reasons mentioned above, discovery systems with ability in capturing breadth and depth in discovery have had to build a lot of device vendor specific adaptors instead of standards based adaptors.

Avinash Ganesh
“Avinash is a seasoned professional with over 13 years of experience in the Telecommunication B/OSS space. Avinash is a graduate from Illinois Institute of Technology with a masters in Telecommunications and Software engineering. He currently heads Product Management for the Network Analytics suit of Products at Subex. Avinash has experience defining strategy and roadmap for products ranging from products which have been in the market for over a decade to launching a brand new product to the Market. Prior to moving into the Product ownership role, Avinash has played multiple roles within the product engineering, delivery and pre-sales organizations like Product Architect, Solutions Architect, Technical Sales etc. An active member of TM Forum, he is working closely with the Asset Management group of TM Forum in defining business process standards for Asset Management and assurance practices of Telecom Service Providers.”

Asset Assurance: Leveraging our Experience, Maximizing the Network

Over the years we have gained a deep understanding of the culture within telcos. We are best known, through the ROC, as specialists in Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management. As such, we know how to deliver different views of the same data.

Having successfully done this in the BSS world, we have turned our attention to the networking side of the business. Controlling costs and optimizing network capital investment are priorities for the business and managed by the CFO’s office. Optimal usage of the network assets and manage traffic effectively are under the control of the CTO’s office.

Both offices need access to the same information but in different ways. With different priorities, sharing the same information without interpretation or tailored analytical choices would make communications between the two entities very difficult.

A CFO needs to know how many assets are stranded and therefore not producing revenue. Right now, the status and whereabouts of only 75 percent of a telco’s assets are known. Knowing where assets are, knowing how long an asset is in place before it is revenue producing and knowing that delaying an investment for a month makes financial sense is of huge importance to a CFO.

Understanding which assets can be re-used in other parts of the network, or which need to be retired can help the CTO with his priorities. Some assets can be effectively re-sold, so what is a retirement to the CTO becomes a possible source of revenue for the CFO.

We believe that creating a view into network assets will benefit both offices and create a better collaboration between them. Revenue Assurance can provide a financial view of IT assets, which adds a new and effective dimension to that craft. So, too, Asset Assurance adds the tools to the network capex side of the business to actively manage it. We not only believe it, we know it. Working with one of our customers we found $17 million of stranded assets in a single week. Better yet, Asset Assurance also benefits the customer.

Talk to a Telecoms Manager about what he would like from his telecoms provider and he will not say more accurate bills as a priority. He accepts that billing is complex and accepts that his comms bill will never be 100 percent accurate. What he would like more than anything is to know what inventory is in place in his organization, where it is, whether it is still live and whether he is paying for it. This can be discovered with Revenue Assurance tools, but now the communication providers can actively manage the whole inventory issue with the new Asset Assurance solution.

By leveraging our experience in Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management in the OSS world, we are now proud to be able to offer solutions and expertise to operators in all of the vital parts of their business, including network. And we are already proving that this concept of asset assurance is important in managing assets more effectively and efficiently.  We also believe, like many such solutions, that we will discover uses for Asset Assurance that we cannot quite see yet. We will keep you up to date with the story as it unfolds.

Vinod Kumar
Chief Operating Officer - Vinod Kumar is the Chief Operating Officer and overall responsible for managing the Portfolio Development & Innovation, Client Acquisition & Relationships and Fulfillment teams. Prior to this, he worked in the capacity of Group President of the Company, and has previously handled the role of President and Senior Vice President – Sales at the Company, where he was directly responsible for the worldwide revenue generation efforts as well as the day-to-day operations of the Company’s sales organisation including sales, sales operations, alliances, and channels. Mr. Kumar joined the Company in October 1997 and was involved in the development and implementation of the Company’s sales strategy. Prior to joining the Company, he spent five years as a marketing executive with Crompton Greaves, and also worked at Ashok Leyland Limited. Mr. Kumar holds a bachelor of technology degree in electrical and electronics from CET, University of Kerala.

Press & Analyst Contact

Sandeep Banga
E-mail : sandeep.banga@subex.com