Table of Contents
Inventory is beginning to play a much more important role at the center of this change, supporting fulfillment, planning, maintenance, analytics, service creation, and service enablement in a much more dynamic fashion than legacy systems ever did in the past. This SPIE examines the need for a dynamic, real-time OSS with a flexible, accurate inventory at its heart. The report will also show one company’s approach to such a system, as well as one CSP that adopted it.
To get inside the head of one’s opponent, a golfer might ask, just before the opponent putts, whether he or she inhales or exhales prior to taking the backswing. The opponent won’t be able to stop thinking about it. It should be the same with telecom software. Every time an engineer or developer makes a claim about the next great enhancement to network management or service orchestration, someone nearby should whisper these words until it sticks in everyone’s head: “with an accurate inventory.” The phrase should become so ingrained that any discussion about what is possible in the world of network service delivery would not be complete without that caveat. Inventory solutions have historically been inaccurate. In a SPIE report published in 2002, Stratecast pegged the accuracy of inventory at % to %. The reason it is still relevant to mention the integrity of inventory systems from years ago is that it was right about that time that today’s inventory systems were first deployed. By 2005, the situation had not improved much, as more than % of CSPs indicated the lack of inventory accuracy as their top business concern.
It was time for a change. A niche opened for data integrity and reconciliation solutions. Auto-discovery technology was built into many network appliances to partly automate the inventory process. Data integrity got quite a boost. Analytics then came along, and data integrity got an even bigger boost. However, network inventory, also known as resource management, still has a long way to go before it can deliver reliable accuracy
on the real-time basis that is required by today’s and tomorrow’s communications service providers (CSPs). As long as there is a human element involved in creating and maintaining inventory, there will be inaccuracies and processing delays. This is unacceptable for CSPs in their quest to uplift their level of automation and remain competitive. A new inventory integrity concern that did not exist in the networks of 2002 has emerged as a result of a not-so-small complicating factor known as virtualization. Because inventory has yet to be made whole, even for today’s network, including Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), CSPs are right to be concerned. With the added complexity of temporary and transient virtual network functions, keeping inventory straight, and executing on real-time resource management, will be quite a feat. In fact, Stratecast believes that if the inventory problem does not significantly improve, as NFV technology advances, the widespread deployment of virtual network technology will remain a desire of CSPs globally, rather than being the business savior that many of them believe virtual networks can become.
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