What Is Intelligent Automation?
The operations environment for service providers is growing increasingly complex. While advancements like Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) enable on-demand services, among many other benefits, existing network management and Operational Support Systems (OSSs) lack the scale and flexibility to meet the requirements of these more dynamic network technologies. Simple automation techniques like custom scripting are often used to reduce repetitive manual tasks, but providers are looking for more robust automation capabilities to reduce operational complexity and improve efficiency, at scale. By leveraging software purpose-built for dynamic SDN/NFV environments, and incorporating recent advancements in big data analytics and machine learning, network operators will be able to make true intelligent automation possible from end to end and, as a result, run their businesses smarter and much more efficiently.
The evolution of service providers to SDN/NFV and intelligent automation will progress in three stages:
- Present mode of operations: Today’s service provider architecture and the current state of operations are based on various operational silos for manually managing multiple physical networks, as well as service-centric OSSs and processes. As providers start to examine their new requirements and plan their transitions to SDN/NFV and automation, they’ll need to engage with an industry thought leader to map out an evolutionary approach to modernizing their operations.
- Transitional mode of operations: At this stage, the network operator will have identified which network domain or specific network functions to virtualize, and the approach to managing and orchestrating these resources, including a ‘lightweight’ integration into key OSS elements such as order management, customer self-service portals, and billing. This often takes the form of adopting SDN-based control within a vendor or technology domain, or deploying a new virtualized service for a select group of customers. An important step for the service provider at this evolutionary stage is the move from a siloed, inventory-centric service fulfilment model to a Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) approach that provides unified, end-to-end service inventory and control across multiple domains. At this point, operators can also begin leveraging analytics to derive actionable insights from network performance data.
- Future mode of operations: In the final stage of evolution, the service provider utilizes intelligent automation, guided by the cornerstones of multi-domain LSO, with integrated analytics and machine learning-assisted decision-making. With an architecture based on tight interworking between these components, service provider operations benefit from continuous learning and the ability to dynamically adapt to changing service demands and traffic patterns. In addition to reducing costs through predictive and proactive operations, as well as end-to-end automation, this enables the delivery of more differentiated services and a higher-quality experience for end-customers.
Service providers face an increasingly complex and dynamic environment as more business-critical applications migrate to the cloud and IoT starts to take hold. Intelligent automation, built on software-defined control and orchestration with integrated analytics, is a key concept that’s aligned with Ciena’s vision for the Adaptive Network—and one that should be on every provider’s road map.
Intelligent Automation combines software-defined control and orchestration with big data analytics, allowing service providers to use deep knowledge about the network to power adaptive automation of their services and operations.
How Ciena helps
Service providers can benefit from a wealth of Ciena expertise in both networking technologies, as well as the latest advances in software- and data-driven automation and network analytics, to inform, advise, and automate their business processes. Ciena’s 25 years of experience connecting the world positions it to help service providers capitalize on intelligent automation and a vision of the Adaptive Network.
- Unmatched network experience: With more than 1,300 customers worldwide, Ciena supports 80 percent of the world’s largest network providers. Ciena has deployed 150 million kilometers of coherent optical networks.
- Services: Ciena has a broad services portfolio designed to help operators evolve their networks. Ciena’s approach supports the complete network lifecycle, with consulting, solution practices, and services oriented around the needs of our customers.
- Partners: Ciena augments its value with a vibrant partner program that evolves and develops offerings and expertise to enable all aspects of the Adaptive Network.
Ciena’s unmatched product portfolio supports intelligent automation in a number of important ways. Critical components include:
Software Control and Automation:
- Blue Planet Multi-domain Service Orchestrator (MDSO) – simplifies the end-to-end management and automation of network services across physical and virtual networks
- Blue Planet NFV Orchestration (NFVO) – automates the delivery and lifecycle management of NFV-based network services
- Blue Planet Manage, Control and Plan (MCP) – domain controller for automating the complete service delivery lifecycle across Ciena packet-optical networks
Analytics and Intelligence:
- Blue Planet Analytics (BPA) – an integrated network analytics and machine learning framework for deriving actionable insights from network performance data
- Network Health Predictor (NHP) – an analytics application for BPA that enables proactive network assurance in multi-vendor networks by predicting Network Element (NE) failures before they occur