While operational support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) may not bring sexy back, they're crucial elements in regards to the various open source management and orchestration (MANO) projects.
In order to reap the benefits of NFV, which include automated network functions, virtualized hardware and multi-tenancy, MANO needs to interconnect to legacy OSS and BSS. This is how it enables functions and features such as unified quality of service assurance and unified policies.
In Wednesday's Upskill U session, dubbed "MANO 101," AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Toby Ford talked about the importance of integrating OSS/BSS with MANO, which in AT&T's case is its Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy (ECOMP) platform. (See MANO 101.)
"Along with the new things we have to take care of is the legacy or brownfield environment," said Ford, assistant vice president of Cloud Technology, Strategy and Planning for AT&T. "In every telecom or every service provider today there's existing operational support systems or business support systems. The MANO that we have to deploy in some way has to either interface with those systems, create facades to those systems or even replace them."
While the spiffy new NFV-enabled network includes the latest innovations, legacy OSS/BSS platforms are an amalgamation of various vendor solutions that have been stacked up over the years. Service providers are locked into their legacy OSS/BSS platforms due to the cost associated with replacing them, the time it has taken to integrate them and the need to continue supporting their current services and customers.
Legacy OSS/BSS were designed to work in a point-to-point, or point-to-multipoint fashion, but with NFV and SDN there now needs to be service assurance and monitoring at the application level. Ford pointed out that NFV decouples network functions, and it includes new features and functions that weren't around when traditional OSS was first deployed such as VNFs, virtual machines, the NFV infrastructure and VNF forwarding graphs.
Service providers deploying NFV MANO have to keep track of all of the network elements, how services are delivered, the APIs and the web portals while making sure that all of it meets the customers' expectations, Ford said. Traditional OSS/BSS vendors and startups are working to address the OSS/BSS concerns in virtualized networks.
"Definitely vendors are coming up with or improving their OSS/BSS." Ford said. "Many of the vendors that we're leaning on have been our OSS or BSS vendors. They are evolving their tools to be more capable of managing SDN and NFV. That's certainly the case."
AT&T's ECOMP isn't the only MANO game in town. OPEN-O, which is backed by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and several Chinese service providers, is also addressing legacy OSS/BSS in its version of MANO. (See OPEN-O: Cracking the OSS Quandary.)
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation