This post is by Lars Lagerström from Nokia Solutions and Networks.
Do you stop reading when you see the word “process”? Well, you’re not alone. My eyes used to glaze over too, but then I saw the light. I was at a trade show and walked over to see what my friend was presenting. It was a demo about automated network troubleshooting. Instead of starting with a fancy user interface, he first explained to me the complicated, labor intensive manual process. Then he went on to show how it can be automated. In less than 5 minutes my perception had changed completely. I realized that without the process view there would have been no automation, and without automation, no efficiency gains. And now I’ve come full circle and actually prefer to use our reference processes as the starting point for most activities.
I assume automation is high on your agenda as it is for most of your peers in the industry. The Self Organizing Networks (SON) concept is a great example of automation. But although most operators have endorsed the concept and functionality, many still struggle to make SON fit to what they already have. This is where we have found the process view to be simple but brilliant.
Let’s consider LTE or 3G site creation as an example. To get a grip on the fairly complex end-to-end site creation process, we started by splitting our reference process into two parts:
• The Setup Process, which deals with planning work before the actual site installation begins
• The Site Process, which deals with BTS site installation, connection and configuration
The Setup process is hard to automate, but large parts of the Site process can be readily automated using SON. The parts that would otherwise require a lot of manual work in the Network Operations Center (NOC) can be easily identified using our reference process. Likewise, it also helps you gain a clear understanding of how SON fits to the daily routines performed in the NOC.
Taming automation gone wild
While many operators may consider automation to be Nirvana, there is also growing concern about the damage that poorly implemented and uncontrolled automation may cause. Here again, the reference process is very useful in showing how:
• Manual control options can be included even if the site process is fully automated; it’s even possible to add verification check points which require permission before any proposed changes can be made prior to implementation
• It’s also possible to monitor the execution of the automated process and stop it if necessary
This allows you to start with a semi-automated process and upgrade to full automation when you’re ready. With NSN’s SON implementation, you can take full advantage of automation without the fear of losing control.
Without the process view, we could debate the applicability of SON forever – but with it, we can immediately identify where SON fits and explore the various alternatives for safe automation. And when we review from another perspective, such as the Application Architecture, then we can clearly confirm whether SON is the right fit for what you already have.
Can’t get enough of Reference Architecture? Then check out my earlier blogs on the topic:
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