SK Telecom is moving towards a vision of a software defined network, enriched by “big data” network analytics to automatically optimise and manage services and functions in the network.
As part preparation for that automated architecture it has been deploying, and asking its vendor suppliers to support, monitoring and assurance protocols delivered by technology from Accedian. The idea is to get common instrumentation into the network first, and then move data derived from that implementation into the control plane. From there network state information can be used to inform controllers and directors in the network.
The operator is working with five major vendors, three base station vendors and two routing vendors, to make sure they support standards based performance monitoring protocols. This is to make sure they can monitor the Qos and QoE of its mobile infrastructure, and is part of its larger plan to transition to an SDN infrastructure.
Elements at 12,000 locations in SK Telecom’s fully routed L3 network network support two way measurement predicated on test sessions that describe the network state across a network.
Without deploying these Network Interface Devices (NIDs) – either as virtual functions or as tiny embedded modules – operators face a “boil the ocean” alternative of collecting, correlating and analysing performance data from across multiple vendor outputs and feeds, EMS and NMS. With vendors committing to open interfaces to allow standards based performance monitoring, an operator can gain a much more timely and coherent vision of network performance.
SK Telecom is deploying a monitoring solution from Accedian that distributes the TWAMP monitoring standard across the network, with support for the standard either in-built in vendor elements or added as a small form factor (SFP) NID.
These metrics can be integrated with network management systems and with SDN controllers to provide network assurance functions such as fault management in networks that can create “slices” to support service instances.
From SK Telecom’s perspective, operational efficiency drives an optimised user experience by couplin network monitoring coverage with their SDN control infrastructure. This permits automated network configuration and dynamic performance optimisation over their multi-vendor infrastructure, streamlining the process of network management
Patrick Ostiguy, Accedian CEO, said that SK Telecom’s commitment to an analytics-led SDN architecture was proving out much of the work that the likes of AT&T, with its Domain 2.0 programme, and Telefonica, with its Unica initiative, are concurrently working on.
“Over the period of time we have been working with SK Telecom we have been working with numerous T1 and T2 accounts globally – helping to define scaleability, capability, precision and real-time nature – and they are close to making similar types of announcements. SKT is really the first to express they have done this because of the competitive advantage in performance and service quality they derive. Others will have a similar story to tell, with SDN initiatives with performance integration a lot further along than operators normally share.”
However, by creating its own big data and control plane architecture, Ostiguy said, SK Telecom is getting out ahead of anyone else. That said, gaining uniform network visibility and then taking a real time feed to figure out the best way to optimise, is a common goal.
“The real justification for this is 5G, which will need network slices,” Ostiguy added.