What is Service Assurance?
Service Assurance is the application of policies, processes, and solutions through which an operator can monitor their network, the services running over the network, and their customers’ Quality of Service. The network is your most powerful data and analytics engine with a mass of data that can be turned into real intelligence and insight. Using smart technologies and machine learning, the VIAVI service assurance and analytics solution, NITRO Mobile, leverages unified RAN and Core data, providing an unparalleled 360o view of the customer experience across all mobile technologies.
- Virtualized Visibility
When building or expanding the network by leveraging a virtualized infrastructure, any visibility engine that will provide Service Assurance and Analytics can no longer be addressed during the later phases – it must be designed into the cloud-based network at day one. By ensuring the systems are integrated, you can be confident that you have seamless and unified visibility across the multiple technologies (2G, 3G, 4G, 5G) as well as across RAN and Core.
The NITRO Mobile micro-services based architectural approach delivers a cloud-native solution, pipelined across VNFs (Virtual Network Functions) enabling a dynamic range of applications to ensure critical services are running efficiently, maximizing both your consumer and enterprise subscribers’ experience while optimizing operations.
Automation takes the principles of Management, Assurance, and Optimization and encodes them in a process that can be performed automatically with minimal or even no human intervention. The complexity of 5G and Virtualization demands a level of automation allowing engineers to manage other aspects of network operations and planning. With the dynamic nature of cloud-based networks, the number of parameters involved and often with support of several disparate verticals, many would argue some level of Automation is a must. Indeed, the openness and flexibility offered through a cloud-based approach in a multi-vendor environment can only be fully realized with automation.
The concepts of Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the cornerstone of Automation. These elements have been key components of the NITRO Mobile evolutionary capabilities. Both supervised and unsupervised ML are used within the solution today along with a branch of AI called evolutionary computing. Many ML algorithms and models thrive on data in large quantities and these algorithms and models in-turn underpin the AI required to automate processes.
To achieve a full end-to-end and unified view of subscribers’ quality of service, data from the RAN and the Core is correlated across multi-technologies. For example, GEO Location Intelligence can be generated from RAN-based subscriber data and combined with Core Control and User Plane insights to provide a rich window to service quality. With 5G, Network Slicing and Virtualized Networks, dynamic data capture is required where data access will be variable with the user plane function topology adapting to the needs of network slices. A more flexible, automated, and powerful data-capture engine is needed as the network continues to evolve and traditional methods become grossly insufficient.
Analytics is the practice of measuring and analyzing data generated by mobile subscribers and their devices. It employs “big data” to capture the details of mobile user experiences and behavior with the primary objectives being service assurance and data monetization. When utilized by mobile network operators, mobile analytics solutions can provide detailed subscriber insights enabling a vast array of applications from Marketing Campaigns, Fraud Analysis, and Revenue Assurance to Benchmarking, Churn and Financial Reporting. The depth of insight now available through NITRO Mobile Analytics enables new revenue streams and supports many operator lines of business and underpins third-party and operator applications, and data science solutions.
The evolution of 5G that brings new opportunities to Service Providers, Enterprises, and Consumers inevitably presents new challenges. New verticals often with disparate network and service needs; a new disaggregated RAN; many new network endpoints; and a new cloud-based and programmable core, to name a few. And all this comes on top of the network and services you already and will continue to support. Crucially you need to monetize your 5G investment, drive new revenue streams, forge new partnerships, and engage customers in new and exciting ways. You also need a vendor you can trust that can partner with you through the journey who has significant experience as well as agility to evolve with the technology and market needs.
The NITRO Mobile 5G Service Assurance and Analytics solution provides unique RAN2Core insight from a national view right down to a street-level beam-view seamlessly. Whether you need to support an Open RAN environment or a Virtualized Cloud-native 5G Stand Alone core, NITRO Mobile will ensure your customers are delighted, your network is efficient and your business opportunities are realized.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
With the deployment of 5G and new business models along with continual pressure on Capex and Opex, Service Assurance and Analytics solutions must provide measurable reductions in TCO compared to traditional methods. Typically, there are three primary datasets that require input, namely:
- Diagnostics: troubleshooting and root cause
- Assurance: operational service-affecting anomalies and Quality of Experience
- Analytics: exploratory data science and analysis
Supporting these workflows is the need to understand the separation of data requirements albeit from the same data source. In many ways this is similar to the concept of network slicing where a multiplex of virtualized networks on the same physical infrastructure can be applied to deliver often disparate vertical needs. With NITRO Mobile, we deliver the unique, Intelligent Assurance Slice Manager (IASM), which provides assurance slices per workflow applying the resources needed and priorities to the workflows in real-time dynamically. Flexible-data processing pipelines of microservices will enable the workflows bringing a new level of automation and data science, significantly reducing TCO while maintaining data integrity.
- Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF)
The need for Analytics to support a broad range of business for the operator, supporting data science and revenue-generating opportunities, is well understood. The Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) is part of a 3GPP standard for the 5G Core as defined in TS 29.520. It provides standard interfaces from a service-based architecture for centralized data collection and analytics through subscription or by request. The proposal would have a distributed architecture providing data at the edge in real-time along with a central aggregator of analytics.
NWDAF is a key element in the provision of automated assurance and analytics, allowing operators to manage, in real-time, elements such as network slicing in a cloud native NFV domain. A central foundation of NITRO Mobile is an open platform with northbound and southbound interfaces aligning with standards and technologies as they evolve. NITRO Mobile would be able to leverage the NWDAF principles to provide granular insight on the 5G Core network, services, and customers.