Earlier this month Aria Networks hosted a webinar to discuss ‘Migration to an optimized business driven network (BDN)’, covering key topics such as the evolutionary steps to get to a BDN and assessing where you are on that path. To set the scene we first provided some context by stating that, of course, telecommunications is the exchange of information over significant distances by electronic means.
The transmission medium gets the information from A to B, and this is critical to note because the revenue opportunity lies where the information is. What tends to happen is the transmission medium (the network) becomes the key focus of the operation, looked at as the key component to optimize.
To be even more specific, the service (which is usually what is being charged for) is just what the operator chooses to expose to a customer – and this could be voice, data, video, connectivity or even a sub-network. However the service offering changes over time, as does the transmission medium, but typically these do not happen in parallel. What is overlooked in the midst of this business evolution is the Modus Operandi – meeting key business objectives such as increasing revenue, improving cash flow etc. So to design and optimize a network, without a true understanding of the wider cost implications in the longer term, only addresses part of the problem.
So how does a service provider clearly define where it is on the journey to a BDN? How does it go from where it is to the next point; and is it valuable to do so – does it make good business sense? Aria Networks argues that there are two ways to look at this. The first is from the operator perspective; the business processes it has to follow and the way it manages the network. The second is from the network itself; how it is managed and how it operates.
Aria Networks has evolved a concept from the capability maturity model, CMMI, from Carnegie Mellon which identifies five stages in a process improvement model and can be delivered across a project, division, or whole organization. At Aria Networks we use this to model both the maturity of the operator and the maturity of the network and defined a pair of maturity indices which have been submitted to the TM Forum to allow operators and networks to assess where they are and how to progress towards a BDN. From the operator’s perspective, it is important to move from being reactive to proactive and to then look even further ahead to making operational and optimization decisions based on economics like revenue, margin and ROI.
With the Aria Networks network maturity index, the process moves from being very parochial, looking at the network appliance itself and being service focused, to fully self-optimized. It still amazes the Aria team when we go to conferences around NFV that the VNF is still being looked at as an individual component; that small functions are being individually managed rather than being seen as part of an overall service.
Business Driven Optimization (BDO) takes the business and the network one step further where the objective is not simply to optimize the cost of the equipment going into the network or the OPEX, but is instead the service revenue; the interconnect agreements and looking at the differences between leased capacity versus building capacity.
There might even be technology choices to consider; especially now there are some significant price differences between virtual network function and physical network function. Looking at some of these technology choices also means considering short term and long term options which all need to be driven from a set of policy objectives – this is what Aria Networks means by business driven network optimization. Whilst it might seem like rather a big ask to be able to design networks – optimized networks – that take all the relevant considerations into account, Aria Networks believes that this is an achievable goal for service providers.