The growing number of services and their importance for an operator's business means OSS systems have never been as important as they are nowadays. Today, operators can not even think about delivering services without significant help from the supporting systems. Service Assurance is the most critical area of modern OSS solutions.
The challenges of next generation networks
The transition to NGN networks has increased competitiveness in the telecommunication market and forced all the operators to optimize their costs and make their offered services much more attractive for end customers. This optimization can not be achieved using the previous generation of OSS systems. Next Generation Networks require Next Generation Service Assurance to fully protect the services delivered to the customer and conserve operators' revenues. The move from traditional architecture into a next-generation telecommunications network introduces additional problems into network management and operation. The introduction of multi-layer network architecture simplifies the development and introduction of advanced services, but hides the complex relationship between the services provided and the network resources used.
In the traditional architecture, the provided services were embedded in the networking equipment. Analysis of the service state was easy and straightforward. In modern networks however, services are no longer associated with a single device in the network. Instead, each service is composed from resources provided by many devices operating within the network or even based on many other simpler services offered by third party companies. With more advanced services offered, the structure of these services can become more and more complicated.
In the case of any failure in such a complex mesh of connected resources, the contents, suppliers, quantity and importance of the affected services usually determines the severity of the network failure. Therefore, in a next generation network, exact information about the service state is essential for network management and operation. However, delivering precise information about the event's root cause to an operator's staff is only one side of Service Assurance, the second side is supporting the incident resolution process.
How to design the ultimate solution
To fulfill all these requirements an operator needs a comprehensive Operational Support System providing a permanent opportunity to monitor services based on the underlying fault management system. Such a system needs an efficient correlation engine to support the presentation of the most relevant information regarding upcoming events in an automated way. To deal with emerging incidents, a process management system controlling and organizing complex workflow is also crucial. Service Assurance should have control of Service Level Agreement fulfillment and direct communication with the customer, such as through Trouble Ticketing.
Our proposal is Comarch Next Generation Service Assurance, based on the Comarch OSS Suite 4 modules: Service Management, Fault Management and OSS Process Management. It provides the ability through a very efficient event correlation system to monitor complex services, find a problem's root causes in an automated way and most importantly, resolve incidents through structured processes modeled in the Process Management module which is specifically designed for managing a Telco operator's processes. It provides several mechanisms and tools which enables process automation at different levels. Each typical, common task can be defined on the highest level as an automatic process. Finally, Process Management provides a scripting mechanism to define actions even at the atomic level and use them in high level processes as automatic tasks. A Know-How Database integrated with the Process Management system provides additional added value. Seamless integration of all the components of the Comarch solution with 3 rd party software, through OSS/J interfaces, delivers an OSS system which enables Service Assurance to be controlled from one convergent application.
In conclusion, every day we see new emerging services with steadily increasing service complexity. This situation introduces new requirements for Operations Support Systems. Only tools that are service and process oriented with highly automated incident and problem management are able to help an operator manage this live environment of resources, services, customers and partners.