HomeMobile EuropeOSS/BSS special focus - Assuring quality of service

    OSS/BSS special focus – Assuring quality of service


    Next generation networks and technology, mean operators will require next generation service assurance. But where will the investment come from?

    Service assurance, like much of the OSS space, is moving into a next generation of products, driven by a need to support IP services and networks.

    In a recent  note, OSS Observer forecasts that the next gen IP service assurance market will grow from $821 million in 2007 to $2.07 billion in 2012 at a CAGR of 20%.
    In its view the market for next generation service assurance software will be driven by network upgrades and the service applications that use this technology.

    "Upgrades in the core, aggregation, and access networks will lay the foundation for voice, video, and data services, generating demand for solutions to measure quality and isolate problems in complex multi-domain networks. Demand for probe, fault, and performance software will follow technology upgrades in the short term followed by the need to support IP services in the late years of the forecast."

    For mobile, the growth of next generation service assurance capabilities will be in line with that of the IP based technologies in the network. And with HSPA already driving a great growth in mobile broadband, then the time for investing in the platforms has arrived, certainly in mature markets.
    Many of the different players are now coming to marker, in 2008, with products designed to operate in next generation network environments.

    TTI Telecom has launched its Netrac Studio 3, which is intended to give network operators a single platform providing centralized control over the entire process and life cycle of data collection and processing for service assurance. The Studio merges the functionality of Mediation, Fault, Performance, and Service management under a single interface, giving operators a quick and easy method of adjusting systems and data libraries according to the particular needs of each operator and network landscape. This level of flexibility allows operators to more rapidly deploy new services and network technologies and easily update and upgrade their management system according to network changes with a vendor-neutral and protocol-neutral platform.

    "Our Netrac Studio is going to make network management a lot easier, especially among NGN operators who need high flexibility and ability to react quickly and introduce new services and technologies faster than ever," commented Shachar Ebel, CTO at TTI Telecom. "Our customers have the challenging task of managing converging networks, and are looking for tools to shorten the cycle of introducing new services while management systems are becoming a key factor in their successful launch. Netrac Studio addresses these challenges, while helping to consolidate the numerous management applications in converged NOCs, lowering the life cycle cost for a direct impact on the organization's bottom line."

    TTI  has also been selected and certified by France Telecom group as the resource and service supervision solution Group Core Component (GCC) standard for the strategic NExT program. It  has also announced the successful implementation of two supervision systems within France Telecom over environmental equipment and within Orange France over a 3G network, and is looking forward to additional implementations within France Telecom group.

    "We found in TTI Telecom a technologically leading solution that will allow us to have a unified system across France Telecom group and yet provide the specific needs for all different affiliates," said Luc Henri Pampagnin, OSS domain manager at France Telecom. "TTI Telecom's solution will enable us to streamline our operations and improve our service quality to our customers."

    Just last month, the company also signed up Pelephone to provide the Fault Management solution for the operator's UMTS network. The Israeli operator is rolling out a HSPA network, having previously been on the 3GPP2 migration path. The OSS elements will now be used to manage services across both networks.

    Spirent Communications is another that has launched products specifically targeted at the next generation sector.

    Its TestCenter 3000 Series modules are specially designed to offer network equipment manufacturers and service providers a flexible platform for conducting end-to-end Layer 2-7 triple-play testing at line rate through a single gigabit port.

    Today's routers and switches have become increasingly more multi-functional with advanced security features and application awareness. Testing with upper layer protocols (data, video and voice) becomes essential to improve the quality of these products. To meet these needs, the Spirent TestCenter 3000 Series modules provide customers with the ability to showcase the distinguishing capabilities of these complex network elements.

    And it's not just about technical solutions, a product like this will enable  service providers to give users differential quality of service – to be able to prioritise high value customers and high revenue earning services.

    "Service provider networks generate revenue by efficiently and securely transmitting data, voice, video, and wireless applications," says Michael Howard, principal analyst, Infonetics Research. "These networks also need to provide for evolving traffic patterns, new services, and optimised application performance. Providers can no longer depend only on bandwidth and speed for differentiation -carrier business cases can only succeed when engineers have test and measurement tools that support applications and services on next-gen networks."

    Tektronix Communications has also addressed the demand for IP?test and assurance, with the release of its Spectra2 6.3 Core Network Test Solution software release, which offers testing for IMS and TISPAN networks.

    With network equipment and service providers increasingly looking to provide differentiated services over next-generation network infrastructure, Tektronix says the need for comprehensive test solutions is key to delivering reliable services.

    "Spectra2's legacy of success with PSTN and VoIP networks provides a solid foundation for extending the solution to provide test coverage in next-generation IMS and TISPAN networks," said Richard Kenedi, General Manager of Function and Load Diagnostics, Tektronix Communications. "Our goal is to provide a test solution at the opening of the TISPAN market window. Spectra2 6.3 positions us to be the leader in TISPAN support while continuing to provide world-class solutions for IMS and legacy technologies. Tektronix' Spectra2 ‘all-in-one' platform has and will continue to satisfy real-world customer needs with a solution that is flexible, reliable and easy to use."

    The Spectra2 6.3 software release introduces policy management testing for IMS and TISPAN networks, with support for the Gq/Gq' and Rq Interfaces. The release also offers element simulation capabilities of the next generation Policy Decision elements such as the PDF, SPDF, CSCF and A-RACF to complements its capability to test IMS Core, VoIP, and PSTN networks. The Spectra2 6.3 release also implements load testing support for the TISPAN (Megaco V3) la interface.  Users are provided with the ability to test and monitor enforcement of local policies at border elements to control bandwidth and session based media traffic.

    Finally, the introduces support for Enhanced Variable Rate Codec (EVRC) based media streams. This extension of the Spectra2 media solution set includes functional and load testing coupled with Quality of Service reporting.

    Recently, Anritsu released version 6.2 of its Service Assurance solution MasterClaw. Earlier this year Anritsu this year received recognition from Frost & Sullivan in this sector for Product Differentiation Innovation for its MasterClaw suite.

    "The MasterClaw service assurance solution from Anritsu provides network operators with end-to-end network and service visibility across GSM, GPRS, UMTS, VoIP/SS7, and triple play networks," explains Frost & Sullivan Industry Manager Jessy Cavazos. "With one platform supporting all technologies, the level of convergence investment protection in the platform as well as in end-user training needs is unmatched in the market."

    The MasterClaw traffic observer offers full configuration of customized real time KPIs for the network operations center and works with any technology. Some competitors' solutions are pre-configured and their legacy platforms do not support IP.

    "While many of the products offered by other market participants include some of these services in either their base system or as an additional add-on, Anritsu includes all of them in the MasterClaw's default configuration," cites Cavazos.

    The most recent release of MasterClaw Some of the most significant new features in MasterClaw6.2 include:

    • Full monitoring support for IMS monitoring including R7 As IMS is maturing and reaching the commercial deployment phase, the newest release of MasterClaw now supports IMS R7, including the charging related Diameter interfaces: Rf, Ro, Gy, Gx.
    • MasterClaw Insight, an operations intelligence tool with drillable reports and online encyclopaedia to guide users through the analytical process.
    • User Plane tracing and analysis of wireless broadband services. To support management of wireless broadband services MasterClaw 6.2 offers the ability to analyse service sessions that are a part of the user plane signalling. The functionality includes in-progress tracing and statistical support, as well as full user sessions can be captured for offline analysis in external third party tools such as Wireshark.

    The new release also includes further enhancements of MasterClaw's flexible Web based user interface. The upgrade includes both the application launch portal and the ashboard that provides  information about the performance of any key indicator.

    Svend Dahl-Pedersen, Product Managing Director at Anritsu's Service Assurance Division says, "Many of our customers are now entering into IMS and NGN with real commercial service offerings and with its full support for IMS R7 and VoIP our latest version of MasterClaw is designed to help our customers in the migration to IMS/NGN and reduce the technical risks.

    Dahl-Pedersen continues, "During 2007 we had a growth in our business in excess of 25%, which is more than twice as much as the Service Assurance market in general."

    Alondside these vendor innovations in next generation service assurance, there has also been industry impetus from the TM Forum, which has formed a Project group to look at next generation service assurance.

    Despite progress in its NGOSS definitions and interfaces, the TMF says there are potential gaps for service problem management, especially for newer, more advanced information and content services. To date, most service assurance activities have focused on a set of network-facing processes aimed at determining and resolving network and service issues and "events". With the increased range of services now being offered and the increasingly competitive market-driven environment, new demands are being placed on the service assurance functions to deliver even higher levels of service to customers. 

    The NGOSS Service Assurance team has been created to develop interfaces at the service management level.  he two main goals for the team are to: provide a detailed service problem management interface for transport services, information services and content services; and define a methodology (in practice) and example of how to define NGOSS interfaces that satisfy the needs of OSS/J and mTOP while following the SID model.