Understanding LSO, OSS, and NGOSS

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Service Assurance in LSO, OSS, and NGOSS Frameworks

Operations support systems (OSS) provide the service fulfillment and service assurance tools that service providers require to operate their networks successfully. A range of factors over the last two decades have transformed the market and made legacy OSSs difficult and costly to maintain.

Further, the rapid and explosive growth in market demand for data services, the rapidly growing number of network technologies and devices, the growth of big data analytics, and the drive toward convergence. Next-gen OSSs (NGOSS) and Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) solutions respond to the challenges posed both by aging OSSs and by the change in the nature of data services in different ways with different benefits.

CENX provides service assurance within the LSO framework, based on MEF Standard 55, assisting network service providers in their efforts to deliver “agile, assured, and orchestrated” services.

Understanding LSO

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Understanding LSO

LSO: Deploy and Assure Services Intelligently End-to-End

While OSSs and NGOSSs provide important tools to service providers, there are key problems neither solves. Providing an abstraction layer that enables service providers to drive the transformation of their networks to SDN and NFV with easier, more consistent orchestration is critical to long-term success. Abstraction provides the consistency required to fulfill and assure services effectively across the full range of contemporary networking technologies, products, and topologies. LSO solutions provide this layer of abstraction, providing complementary if different functionality to OSSs and NGOSSs.

Not all service orchestration solutions provide LSO, however. Often, service orchestration solutions, also referred to as network service orchestrators, focus on service fulfillment, not on the full lifecycle of the service. In contrast to OSSs, NGOSSs, and NSOs, the capabilities that an LSO solution ought to provide are relatively agreed: service orchestration that includes service fulfillment, service assurance, control, security, usage, and analytics capabilities that service providers need to orchestrate data services from birth to death, across both physical and VNFI in SDNs.

 

This is an important distinction between lifecycle services orchestrator and other solutions. A wide range of OSS, NGOSS, and NSO solutions capture and analyze data and may provide a view into data but on a siloed basis. A LSO solution gathers data across the siloes, from both legacy and next-gen OSS applications and other sources, analyzes it with big data analytics to make the information actionable, and provides the service deployment and assurance tools requires to orchestrate data services across physical network functions, VNFs and SNDs quickly and cost-effectively.

As a result, LSO solutions provide service providers with the big-picture, abstracted, and holistic view of their data services. Of course, not all LSO solutions are equal. Some may not provide continuously audited data to ensure accurate views of network inventory and service topology, as well as on- and off-net segments. Others many not provide the integrated, modularized service deployment or service assurance tools necessary to deploy and assure the high quality, highly available services that users expect. More information on LSO is available through the MEF website.

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Understanding LSO OSS

OSS: Powerful but Incomplete

Traditionally, OSSs are groups of applications arranged as a system used by service providers to support service fulfillment and service assurance. The individual parts working together enable service providers to better operate and manage their networks. Along with business support systems (BSS) to address charging and billing, customer relationship management, and other business requirements, OSSs provided the information systems necessary for network operators to do business successfully.

Historically, most OSSs provide network management services, service delivery, fulfillment, and service assurance capabilities in some form. However, each OSS application often serves a particular function (e.g., network inventory, network configuration, fault management). As a result, various OSS applications capture and manage important data about the network and its services. Typically, however, that data is siloed to the particular application that captures it. Moreover, many OSSs were not designed to handle the sheer scale of contemporary big data.

As a consequence, the costs to maintain and integrate disparate legacy systems, as well as their data and information stores have rapidly escalated. The change in market conditions and technology has driven new approaches to network operations and service orchestration. Newer approaches emphasize the deployment of new services quickly to drive revenue, while also ensuring that services work to an expected level of quality in order to provide high quality user experiences to subscribers while reducing costs.

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Understanding LSO - NGOSS

NGOSS: Next-Gen but Still Siloed

What constitutes an NGOSS is a bit open-ended. While the TeleManagment Forum (TMForum) publishes a business solution framework for NGOSSs, vendors are not required to adhere to specific standards in order to market their solutions. As a rule, however, NGOSSs respond to the contemporary problems of network operations to varying degrees. However, some may focus on either service fulfillment or service assurance, providing only a partial solution; other may not capture a logical model of the network’s service topology, on- and off-net services, instead providing a more rudimentary sense of the network’s physical inventory.

Generally speaking, NGOSSs do not provide the abstraction layer required to enable service providers to manage their physical networks in conjunction with their Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). NFV and SDN are two critically important emerging technologies that promise to reduce costs, MTTR, drive service agility and other benefits. In short, many NGOSS solutions, intentionally or not, leave data siloes intact and do not respond to the key challenges facing tiered service providers: a wealth of big data that needs to be gathered and analyzed to support assurance and deployment operations, as well a big picture, abstracted view of both physical and VNFI in the context of SDNs required to manage large-scale, modern networks.
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