This blog is by Neil Thorley at Nokia Siemens Networks.
Many tier one operators in Europe have roughly the same number of operations staff that they had when they first deployed GSM. Now, more than ten years later, mobile networks have changed significantly. Operators are managing complex heterogeneous networks that often have three or four technology layers, including integrated small cells and Wi-Fi, and also need to cope with the latest applications and smartphones. To manage this complexity, operators have no choice but to simplify operations and automate repetitive manual tasks. This way their operations experts can focus on what they do best, which is to ensure the best network and service quality for their increasingly demanding subscribers.
Automation: where to start?
So what do you automate and how? Clustering alarms is the first step to reduce information overload and free up operations staff for more productive work. Network elements generate thousands of alarms, which can be consolidated, so operations staff is notified only when alarms reach a threshold of 50 events, for example, or affect subscriber experience. Most alarms don’t affect the subscriber and checking up on every single one is a time-consuming process.
The Nokia Siemens Networks Smart Automation Flow Engine (or SAFE for short), which is part of our iSON family, helps operators simplify alarm clustering and enables self-healing of re-occurring issues. In a recent project in Europe, for example, we reduced the number of alarms by 85%, saving 1.5 million euros per year and reducing the number of site visits by 40%. We worked with another European operator to reduce the number of alarms by 95% in peak times, which helped decrease the number of manual tasks by 2,000 per month.
Self-healing steps fixes faults automatically
But what happens next when an alarm or performance KPI indicates an actual fault? Can we really automate the resolution or ‘self-heal’ these faults? The most common network faults are related to power and transmission issues, which can corrupt the configuration settings of devices in the network or simply cause network degradation. A chain reaction typically follows: Interfaces and links become unstable or deliver poor quality and cells and sites start to perform below their optimum level. Self healing with SAFE can detect problems and resolve them automatically to prevent or reduce the impact they have on service quality. Today’s operators have well documented procedures for recurring faults. By automating these procedures, which are typically manual, operators no longer need to spend days first to check faults and then to fix them.
Ensuring full control over automation
For operations experts, the first priority is to maintain control of their networks. They need to be able to define exactly if, how and when they apply their automation policy. SAFE from Nokia Siemens Networks provides a manual override function, a real-time reporting dashboard and fully GUI driven reporting suite, as well as workflow parameter management and tuning for alarm, performance and configuration clustering and self-healing automation. This gives operators the flexibility and control they need to automate their procedures and minimize the number of manual tasks, freeing up time for work that requires greater expertise.
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