FoThe '80s TMN framework, applied since the first wave of the network management, has a deeply set of issues such as: high number of seamless peer-to-peer system's interfaces, multiple seamless data storage methods (same data archives in different mode in different systems) and different human-interfaces not based on process functionalities but only by single OSS / BSS product.
The high complexity of broadband network (and related services) required a rethinking of this pyramid and vertical TMN architectures where each process created the condition for independent system's silos built around specialized OSS / BSS chains. These “spaghetti” solutions with hundreds of custom and/or commercial systems with proprietary communication interfaces and a lot of multiple data, rapidly increased the capital investment and relative operational expenditures. Each network domain and services had specialized but separated OSS and BSS chain with replication of data, functionalities and software licenses running on dedicated hardware platforms. At the end of ‘90s was born a new wave beyond management architectures, named NGOSS (Next Generation Operation System and Software) where the main drivers were an answer imposed by the new telecommunication change's rhythms: update the OSS / BSS functionalities in a squeezed timeframe using easy exchangeable methods between custom and commercial solutions in order to adopt and adapt rapidly the management system inter-working after a set of changes in the network domain and service customer portfolio.
Since 2003, Telecom Italia adopted a strictly NGOSS architectures, based on a unique communication infrastructure (BUS) used by any software component for each kind of peer-to-peer system communication, a unique network and service inventory based on SID (Shared Information Data model) and a rationalization of the number of similar systems. Currently, the management architecture in Telecom Italia in based on a Element Manager layer (with furniture handled directly by the equipment vendor), first OSSs layer (specialized for example in network management for activation, configuration upload, network data discovery and alarm handling), second OSSs layer (specialized for delivery, assurance, inventory, workforce, performance and service management processes), a unique synchronization bus to orchestrate each application and standardize the inter-working between the first and second OSSs layer and between OSS and BSS (specialized for billing, revenue assurance, customer relationship and customer portals).
The fixed and mobile convergence, the changes in IT technologies, the evolution of market needs, regulatory conditions and (internet) consumers, create new happens and the current “traditional” telecommunications OSS / BSS management framework is coming to the end of its working life. In the next decade, Telecom Italia will invest many energies in an epochal (re)evolution of the access network as anyone remembers in the last 25 years: the entire network will based on optical fiber adopting FTTx approaches (where is economical convenient, will be Fiber To The Building or Fiber To The Cab or Fiber To The Home) and the services will be based on a VoIP and ToIP communications protocols adopting a full IP replacement approaches. The traditional exchanges (located in specific central office) will disappear progressively and a high quantities of new digital equipment (formed by ONU – Optical Network Unit) and related software will be spread near the customer premises and peripheral zones. This new network creates the conditions to offer new kind of service portfolio for ultra-broadband end users, such as interactive TV, HDTV (High Definition TV), virtual presence, networked gaming, and so on all with a available bandwidth beyond 100Mb/s for each customer.
This new conditions are fundamentals for a new wave in OSS / BSS ? Yes, because new disruptive network and service conditions create new opportunities in others fields, and Telecom Italia believes that this situations is coming up: the next generation network requires a next generation OSS / BSS architecture (named in the following as BOSS) because the “traditional and as-is” management network (typically adopted by big telecommunication players) will not useful to answer at the requirements imposed by the new processes and services. The new BOSS would be more flexible, more customizable, more componetisable, less expensive, easy to change with a short delivery-time, running on a low cost hardware platforms with low level of energy consumption. Many constraints compared with the previous OSS / BSS generations platforms and architecture !
The new management wave will be built on a BOSS paradigm based on the following topics:
The entire architecture will have three different orthogonal layers (end-to-end views in terms of network and services domain): one for multi-vendor neutral network management (NNEM as Neutral Network Element Management), one for any application orchestrations (ESB as Enterprise Service Bus) and one for universal application and user portals.
The NNEM standardize the communication between network nodes and upper OSSs using a unique kind of interface, a unique network information model (SID based) and a configurable intelligent methods to integrate, near the network nodes, many FCAPS functions nowadays distributed in many proprietary Element Manager systems with no integrated functions
The ESB synchronizes, using parameterization policy manager functionalities, all SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) software components developed by Telecom Italia or by third parties, where SOA components dialog with others via web services. The components are stored in a federated registry and this assures the maximum reusability level of each software service component in the architecture
The universal portals assures a unique kind of access to the applications and related BOSS systems and will be a unique environment to create specialized reports for single user profile (the report will be classified by performance data, process data, business view and customer experience)
The BOSS systems will be composed by best-of bread commercial products or custom development solutions and when needed also by open source applications. The BOSS, as target Telecom Italia strategy point of view, will be in the future primary virtual systems, dynamically composed by SOA components (in terms of closed or open source code) where each basic functionalities will can included in any kind of systems maximizing the reusability source code and minimizing the specialization of the application (reducing time dedicated to application test, validation and deploy)
The global framework has a virtual unique inventory layer, capable to mix and share the information about network equipment, services offered and customers that used theirs. The inventory is built with a special software synchronizer that assure the complete and real time data alignment between installation and stored. This functionalities reduces dramatically the disalignment and the current reworking.
Each kind of applications and products will be processed on a grid computer infrastructure based on a low hardware platforms, such as blade and linux systems. This processing infrastructure will have the following characteristics: a battery of blade machines with virtualization capabilities (assuring special fault tolerant functionalities, processing adaptation and maximum hardware utilization), probes useful to adapt the processing to the real needs of each running applications (a kind of net computing for management layers) and high autonomic self-capacity control in order to realize an eco-system to reduce (as needed and compatible with service level agreement of the entire BOSS architecture) the energy consumption, hibernating the server not used.
The new wave in BOSS creates a revolution in the management framework for next decade: the rapid and easy assembling of SOA components will probably reduce of 30% the integration tax currently needed to do work together the current OSS with BSS platforms. The eco-system reduce nearly of 60% the current consumption of energy (servers and machines) and powering related (ait conditioning, refrigerators,). The three layers described before, reduce the number of specialized solutions and relative costs in terms of interface development, information model description and in the same time increase the flexibilities during the systems integration of different FCAPS basic functions. The design and deploy of new software functions is very fast and reduce of a high magnitude the time needed today to adapt tthe NGOSS. The componentization and rationalization of current systems (with more flexible systems based on open source platforms) will reduce of 50% of the current number of management systems.
Nowadays, the firsts steps have been developed by Telecom Italia since first half of 2007: the realization of the layers and the some components with SOA paradigm. Currently, the platform handles nearly 4.000 IPTV work orders each hour with 300 technicians simultaneously connected to the BOSS, The rationalization of processes and the automatic execution of some procedures have created the condition to reduce the operational expenditure (for example, only for DSLAM IP) of 1,2 million € by year.
Many things of BOSS architecture must also be designed, developed and deployed. The new wave is a reality and a need for future: without a new management paradigm the management of new scenario offered by fixed-mobile ultra broadband networks would be dissatisfy for any kind of player. The new wave create the condition to evolve the management issues as the new ultra broadband network create the condition for new revenues, but the last one will be obtained if and only if the new management framework becomes a reality. An evolution towards a NGOSS of second generation is needed because some new technologies are current mature for this new step forward.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Guido Bruno, Executive Innovation OSS , Telecom Italia
Born 1963, member of the TMF Board until 2007. He holds a Master Degree in Computer Science and has over 20 years experience in the telecommunication and software industry in Telecom Italia. He is responsible since 1993 of Innovation OSS department and had been owner of many strategic architectural programs as SOA framework, Neutral Network Element Manager, reengineering operation processes, work force management and lean approaches for Telco.