The ability to accelerate and streamline service deployment is one of the core value propositions of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). Yet NFV management and organization (MANO) systems typically fall short by delivering limited value beyond their own footprint. For example, a value added services (VAS) vendor might support service orchestration across its own virtualized multi-VAS (mVAS) environment, or a network equipment vendor may automate the configuration of select NFV elements such as virtual session border controllers or virtual packet gateways. What these solutions lack is end-to-end service automation and orchestration across all network elements.
The Affirmed Services Automation Platform (ASAP) is different by design. It leverages the full potential of NFV by providing service automation, orchestration, and validation across any network element—virtual or physical—that supports standard network interfaces, such as SOAP, REST, NETCONF, and CLI. With ASAP, carrier network operators can seamlessly and centrally manage service provisioning end to end, leading to faster service deployments, simplified service management and a superior customer experience.
Here are 10 ways that ASAP can help you roll out new services faster and realize revenue opportunities sooner:
1. It’s one platform for end-to-end automation.
Let’s imagine that you’re deploying a new virtual core network consisting of virtualized network functions (VNFs) from various vendors, a common occurrence. Virtualization opens up the door to new services, but it also introduces layers of complexity as provisioning a single end-to-end service requires multiple elements, each with their own configurations and gateway perspectives. With ASAP, network operators can quickly turn up and configure new services by centrally provisioning and managing services from a single, trusted source.
2. You can test new services faster.
ASAP provides a multi-phase test environment that allows network operators to deploy production-ready services sooner. These phases are: 1) log review to confirm correct element provisioning; 2) emulated production environment; 3) test environment using actual network elements and applications. As a result of ASAP’s multi-phase testing, network operators can deploy new services quickly with confidence.
3. You can onboard new customers faster too.
ASAP enables network operators to onboard new customers sooner by deploying pre-configured and pre-validated service models in a dedicated network environment. This is helpful not only for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), but also enterprises and applications (e.g., machine-to-machine communications) where rapid service turn-up is required.
4. Replicate new services across multiple regions.
Once a service is deployed in a single data center, ASAP can easily replicate the new service in other data centers to quickly increase service reach. In cases where data centers have site-specific requirements (e.g., unique IP address pools), ASAP allows networks operators to easily customize the service parameters to suit these requirements.
5. Update multiple elements in a single step.
Services are rarely static, and tend to change over time. ASAP enables network operators to update services quickly and easily. For example, let’s say that a MVNO changes the charging model for one of their services from offline to online charging. With ASAP, you can quickly change the main service object and all supporting objects in one seamless operation.
6. Add or modify service triggers without disrupting configurations.
Imagine that an MVNO wishes to add a trigger to their virtual Policy Control Enforcement Function (PCEF) to periodically refresh the list of free-rated URLs. Using ASAP, network operators can add this trigger to all PCEFs in a single action without altering their configuration.
7. Synchronize configurations both upstream and downstream.
During the course of network troubleshooting, a network operations engineer changes the access point name (APN) on a network element through the command line interface (CLI). The change doesn’t fix the problem, and the engineer logs out of the CLI without reverting back to the original APN. This can now be quickly changed back to the master configuration using ASAP’s downstream network synchronization.
In a reverse of the example above, let’s assume that the network engineer does fix the problem on a local element. Now, ASAP can allow each similar element in the network to adopt this new configuration as the master configuration, resulting in a simple network-wide fix.
8. Apply the right configuration to the right version, every time.
In a virtual network, it’s not unusual for the same class of devices to exist in multiple versions that may not be backwards compatible. In these cases, ASAP polls the device to discover its version and applies the right configuration based on that version, providing a simpler way for network operators to enforce service consistency in their networks.
9. Validate services from end to end.
ASAP allows network operators to test and validate services end to end, either manually or automatically using various network probes. Because the ASAP system can communicate with any endpoint that supports standard interfaces, network operators can validate services across both legacy and virtual network elements.
10. Get rid of unnecessary agents.
In a traditional network architecture, software-based agents are needed to communicate between the central management platform and separate network elements/functions. ASAP removes the need for those agents by providing an agentless architecture that allows direct communications between the ASAP platform and individual network functions through standard interfaces. This leads to faster service provisioning and lower costs.