It’s the Network, Stupid!

 

This blog first appeared on medium.com


 What do we want? “A single source of truth!” When do we want it? “By the end of Q4, 2018!”

What do we want? “A single source of truth!” When do we want it? “By the end of Q4, 2018!”

Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. I just couldn’t resist borrowing a winning statement from an early 90’s Presidential campaign.

That said, intelligent reader, it is all about the network.

The move to 5G is in full swing. All the big telcos are competing to be the first to roll it out. Some analysts think 5G will happen in Houston first, others think it will happen in China. It promises to enable new, interactive applications, like connected cars, interactive gaming, and augmented and virtual reality. Communication speeds will go up and latency will go down, and both will be equally important.

Latency is also about applications. The server side of mobile applications will sit at the edge of the network. Mobile apps will be highly distributed, idempotent, and elastic. The network and all workloads will operate autonomously. It will be a challenging journey to get there — a journey we describe on our website, if you are interested.

Anyway…

All networks contain interconnected functions— a.k.a., network elements — that are tracked by inventory systems. That makes the inventory system the source of truth for capacity planning, system analysis, fault management, etc. The problem is that the inventory system data is frequently and notoriously out of sync with the ultimate source of truth: the live network. Bad data makes for bad decisions.

5G will amplify this problem. Network elements are becoming increasingly virtualized and disaggregated into discrete functions. More and more, the network is managed like a cloud, with resources dynamically deployed, moved, started, and stopped. Keeping track of the configuration is going to be impossible with the current means.

What if we say instead that the network IS the inventory system?

Am I stating the obvious? After all, the network is the natural source of truth. Given the real-time dynamics introduced by virtual workloads and the cloud paradigm, is this the only path forward? Is this possible?

At B.Yond, we know that we need to enable a DevOps approach; to enable a cloud and web-scale operation by using the network as the source of truth for all other management functions.

In other words: Yes, this is possible.

But Operational Support Systems (OSS) will need to be completely rethought. B.Yond is accomplishing this, starting with a metadata-driven data model that enables the modeling of any network function in a database, without a static data structure. We are also adding a dynamic network topology enabling dynamic modeling of the network in near real time.

These capabilities enable rapid adaptation to network changes, without the need for reconfiguration, recoding, scheduling maintenance windows, or other costly moves currently needed to adjust.

And speaking of “open,” the network operations systems of the future must facilitate continuous introduction of new logic, plus the lifecycle management of the software (a.k.a., “Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment” — CI/CD).

We believe in this journey, both for us and our customers. Because it is all about the network, stupid… but it will be anything but a stupid network.