Today’s networks are continuing along a path of transformation, as operators worldwide understand the benefits that software-based virtualized networks provide. As this evolution continues and hardware becomes further disaggregated from software, operators will benefit from an accelerated rate of innovation driven by open interfaces capable of further disaggregating hardware from software that will allow new ecosystems to evolve capable of delivering a new breed of experiences and services.
Despite the many benefits this evolution will provide, it will also add a level of complexity to network design and management that will require operators to evolve from traditional (manual) network operations. As a result, wireless operators globally are looking for ways to automate many of the traditional functions related to network management and allow them to achieve higher levels of profitability, redundancy and management.
In no area is the need for automation more profound than in the radio access portion of the network.
vRAN Automation: Leveraging the Power of a Virtualized Infrastructure
The move to a virtualized RAN, or vRAN, architecture will provide operators with a host of benefits and capabilities that were previously unattainable. While these will be realized across all areas of the radio network, the initial, most tangible benefits will be related to a few key areas.
Automated Radio Site Commissioning
Traditionally, the commissioning of radio cell sites was a time-consuming, costly effort that was manually intensive and largely inefficient. It involved a high degree of costs related to the physical need to touch as many as 50,000 sites in a network, with specialized provisioning and knowledge of multiple EMS instances, with negatively impacted carrier profitability.
The move to a vRAN architecture changes all that. It allows a virtualized approach to EMS which can be done remotely, with virtually no need for physically visit a site, offering a “Plug and Play” approach that reduces the commissioning process from weeks to hours, significantly removes operational costs from the operator’s balance sheet.
Automated Recovery & Resiliency
Virtualization also delivers benefits related to detecting, preventing and restoring any issues related to reliability that occur on the network. In a legacy world outages could occur in the field long before they were realized, causing lengthy delays, poor service levels and decreased customer satisfaction.
By leveraging the power or a virtualized approach, the identification of problems or incidents are realized in minutes, many times before service degradation occurs. Through automated detection, operators are continually aware of the performance across their network at the most granular levels, allowing them to achieve the highest availability and improved customer satisfaction, retention and profitability.
Automated Network Operations & Management
The operations and management of the radio access network in a legacy environment represented an inefficient process requiring extensive in-depth knowledge and personnel costs. In this traditional environment, the disaggregation of network management through the use of myriad monitoring tools required technical personnel to have expertise across several platforms, many of which had custom OSS which further contributed to complexity and inefficiency.
In a vRAN architecture, network management and operations of the cell sites is done from a centralized location and leverages common tools and interfaces that require technicians to focus their expertise on a single solution, significantly reducing training and personnel costs. This virtualized approach provides a single point of network management and a reduction of operational expenses dedicated to the management of the overall network.