Zero-Touch Network Service Management (ZTNSM)

SONATA hosted recently in Madrid a workshop on Zero-Touch Network Service Management (ZTNSM), with the participation of representatives of more than twenty organizations, from industry and academia. This workshop was a result of an ongoing discussion within the network management community about how to leverage the new Software Network technologies to increase network management automation, and address the challenges that the advent of 5G will bring.

ZTNSM is conceived as a next-generation network and service management system that leverages the principles of NFV and SDN. ZTNSM will be designed for the new, cloud-based network infrastructures and functions, and based on cloud-native principles to address zero-touch (fully automated) management and operation. It is intended to integrate together OAM (Operations Administration and Maintenance), EMS (Element Management System) and OSS (Operations Support System) components, and to address the scale challenges of the future 5G management environment. This notion of zero-touch has been on the operator radar since the early 1990s, as a desire to build a best-of-breed network operation and management solution able to reduce time-to-market and simplify service engineering processes.

There was a common agreement on the need for an architecture to address the reduction of total costs of ownership, the improvement in operational agility, the increase in efficiency and quality. And all of these along with the ability to support the trend for progressive scale, sophistication and personalization in network services. The workshop started under the principles already defined for a ZTNSM solution as part of the ongoing activity we mentioned above. These principles require to incorporate a number of important features, many of which differentiate this architecture from previous architectures:

  • Automation of control via a recursion of control loops designed to handle failure.
  • A federated, decentralized management/control continuum handling recursive abstraction and virtualization, and hence deal with slicing.
  • Run-time dynamic assembly of software replaceable units that plug into a common “Integration Backplane”, where the assembly is driven by process and policies providing a solution that self-optimizes to fit any circumstances.
  • Machine-to-machine focus for all interactions, including self-service with telemetry provided across the business boundary to/from suppliers of components and services.
  • Model-centric integrations based on generalized and versatile models.
  • Intent-based interactions allowing change without need for recoding.
  • Support for migration from brownfield via value-justified steps.
  • Aim for the convergence of the telco and cloud environments.

The scalable and recursive service development environment provided by SONATA, together with the support for DevOps, can play a key role in the definition of this architecture, and contribute to build reference implementation of it.

As a result of this workshop, several of the participant organizations are seeking to start a standardization activity focused on these aspects. We can consider this coming standardization activities as one of the main industrial results SONATA has contributed to, that will continue to be influenced by SONATA results, and constitute a forum for future standardization of 5GPPP project results, especially of 5GTANGO as a continuator of the SONATA efforts in service management automation based on advanced orchestration.