We introduced our last blog by stating that the 2010-2020 decade will be the decade of the smart network. But what is the Aria Networks definition of a smart network, and how can a service provider reach this utopia?
Aria Networks believes that the distinction between wireless and wired edge connectivity will be blurred as devices embed Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi and Long Term Evolution (LTE) modems. Essentially this means that users will no longer need to consider connectivity; instead the device and network will connect to whatever network best suits your application and mobility needs at each instant in time. Whilst the user benefits from a seamless experience the network is also more efficient.
We are already seeing a trend towards sophisticated application-aware traffic management for optimised applications delivery; with embedded caching functionality for optimised video delivery anywhere, anytime to any device. The traditional service provider applications (voice, data and TV/video) are also now opening up to allow third-party and ‘web’ application developers to leverage these capabilities and combine them with other web services to create new applications.
Ultimately the network will be a platform, in the same way as a PC or smartphone is today. Think of a PC today: there is a processor, some memory and storage, and communication ports, all connected by an internal communications network. Each element is orchestrated together by software. Applications run ‘in’ the PC (on the processor) and they leverage the other elements over the local communications busses.
Now, if we consider that with the emergence of Cloud Computing, processing and storage are separated into pools of resources connected together by communications ports on local area networks in data centers, which in turn are connected together over the wider telecommunications network, the parallels are clear and we can think of the applications increasingly running in the network.
Back to the real world; how does an operator move from where they are to where they need to be?
Aria Networks has worked with a large number of Tier 1 and OTT operators around the world to consult and guide on capacity management, optimisation and migrating to a network that maximises profitability. An SDN and NFV enabled solution may be the end game but in every case it was necessary to baseline an operator’s network with an objective to understand the appropriate work that was necessary to move the customer forward – and in some instances define what forward was.
As this had typically been a painful process to follow for all involved parties, due to the technical and process changes needed, Aria Networks took its experiences and learnings and developed two maturity indices.
The first is the Operation Maturity Index (OMI) to help operators identify where they are in the journey from service placement through to leveraging the network to optimise margin. The Operator Maturity Index was created to help service providers identify gaps in the management of physical and virtual resources and opportunities to effectively improve the return of investment for their network assets. Service providers can then utilise Aria Networks’ suite of applications to automate and optimise operational processes. Applications address key issues such as planning network optimisation, responding to infrastructure failure, assessing the impact of new data services and providing an overview of how and where a network is generating revenue.
The second is a Network Maturity Index (NMI) that helps Operators understand how ready their network is to deliver on that goal – 12 applications can be accessed and followed which offer a planned route to self-optimisation. All applications are available as cloud based solutions, providing a low cost, easy entry and scalable means to optimise the utilisation of a network.