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PacketFront Software’s residential solution consists of BBE that provides the operational and business applications and BECS that is the network management system supporting any network technology and topology.
End-to-end Service Provisioning
The combined feature set of BBE and BECS provide operators a fully automated end-to-end service provisioning starting from a self-service portal, where customers can choose the services of their choice and activate or deactivate them with a simple click.
BBE checks that the service orders are allowed based on a predefined criteria, such as binding times, geographical area, conflicting or prerequisite services. If the service order is accepted, it is registered, billing report is updated and ultimately the service is activated.
The service activation is realized by BECS. It configures all involved network elements and interfaces regardless if the network uses e.g. customer VLAN’s, service VLAN’s BNG’s or Layer 3 access. This means customers have the ordered services in their disposal in seconds.
The solution provides extensive standard and customized reports giving the operator full control and overview of the customers and services. And in case of a service delivery failure, the integrated trouble shooting tools provide valuable information to the technical and customer services staff.
The VPN service is created and made immediately available for other OSS/BSS systems via the API. This means that new VPN services, or modifications to the existing services, are done in minutes directly from CRM system. Updating and extending a VPN and related services affecting a large number of customers has never been easier!
Automating a network
As BECS has the complete network topology view including elements and resources (IP address pools, VLAN pools, routing details) it knows which elements to configure and how. The affected nodes can be for example Provider Edge (PE), Route Reflector, aggregation, access and/or Customer Edge (CE).
BECS is a perfect tool to keep your network organized. It provides automated documentation of the VPN services, resources and network elements updating the information in real-time. No more over or under invoicing of services, IP address and VLAN conflicts or configured but unused resources.
The list of benefits is long. Can you afford not to automate your VPN service management?
Building a data center
BECS can configure anything from a single leaf to multiple complete pods in minutes. A simple software wizard guides the user through the installation process asking for the necessary input values, e.g. the number of leafs, spines and routers to be connected. Based on the information provided, BECS automatically prepares and fully configures all switches, including the IP fabric underlay and overlay.
All you have to do is to follow the BECS generated document how to patch the equipment. When online, BECS will use its zero-touch functionality to automatically configure every unit straight from the box and build the predefined network structure.
The manual task of adding, modifying and deleting configuration is cumbersome and prone mistakes. BECS automates the service provisioning making it fast, homogenous and free from errors. At the same time BECS always keeps the network documentation and data for billing up-to-date.
BECS takes care of the end-to-end service mapping in all affected network elements. This does not only include assigning correct IP addresses, VLAN/VXLAN ID’s and routing parameters, but can also include tasks like spinning up virtual servers and assigning firewall rules.
API or GUI?
No matter if you are used to managing your network using tools from different vendors or if you have applied a strict DevOps culture, BECS will fit right in. Everything that is possible to do using the included Graphical User Interface can also be done over the northbound API. This means that you have a future proof solution towards automating everything in your IT and Network infrastructure.
Seamless Legacy to SDN transformation
BECS provides Seamless legacy-to-SDN transformation thanks to its strong element management framework. SDN-controllers are handled just as easily as any other HW element. On top of that, BECS’s service automation invokes virtualized services, in the same way as traditional services. This results in true co-existence of legacy and SDN/NFV networks, without having to change the northbound integration between BECS and other OSS and BSS platforms.
What is SDN & NFV?
SDN is an approach to program the network with software using a central controller. SDN takes the control plane (how a network device will forward traffic) and separates it from the data or forwarding plane (a network device forwarding traffic based on the control-plane policy). With SDN, the control plane is on a centralized controller that has a global view of the network. This global view of the central controller, allows it to take better forwarding decision and easily implement various policies. SDN makes networks smarter, flexible and less complex.
Network Function Virtualization (NFV) is the concept of virtualizing network functions and applications that once run on hardware appliances. Traditionally network functions (Network Address Translation, Firewall, Load balancer) are implemented as physical devices, where software is tightly coupled with specific, proprietary hardware. These physical network functions need to be manually installed into the network, creating operational challenges and preventing rapid deployment of new network functions. A Virtualized Network Function (VNF) refers to the implementation of a network function using software that is decoupled from the underlying hardware.
The software image of a network function can also be implemented in a complete virtual environment, e.g., a Virtual Machine (VM). This can lead to networks which are highly flexible and dynamic and also cut down CAPEX and OPEX drastically.
This ongoing transformation from the old hardware-dependent legacy systems to the new software-enabled trend within SDN and NFV that is changing the core of how telecom operators will operate their networks in the future.
Why SDN/NFV – Driving Forces for Operators
All network owners must sell services. Currently the process of handling and introducing services in the networks is highly manual, slow and prone to error. So not only is there a high cost involved in actually delivering the service, but the many mistakes cause costs as well. At the same time, every network today is under a severe pressure of cutting their costs. Data usage in the networks, both fixed and mobile, is escalating rapidly while prices are going down. In order to reduce the manual work, improve the quality and cut costs, operators look for more automation of existing multi-vendor networks to achieve lower OPEX and CAPEX.
The number of services increases and the time-to-market has become much shorter. It normally takes a telecom operator months or years to introduce a new service because of all the manual labor involved, whereas a service like Netflix can be launched online instantly. In order to increase the speed, operators need new network technology, introduced in the SDN and NFV networks. VNFs can be fired up at will, and with SDN dynamic routing of traffic to these new VNFs is possible. This will reduce service deployment times for operators from months or years to minutes or even seconds. It is however important for the telecom operators that they are able to deliver the same services throughout the entire network. Otherwise they will have enormous complaints from unsatisfied customers. It is therefore very interesting for the operators if they can gradually phase out the legacy systems, and still deliver the same value to all customers. SDN and NFV are evaluated by an increasing number of operators as a means to reduce both hardware and personnel costs while enabling more innovation and quicker service deployment at the same time.
Current ways of building networks also require a lot of power. One of the benefits of NFV is that it greatly reduces the power consumption needed. This is considered to be one of the major benefits of NFV, since power is a very large cost for network owners today.
Roadblocks for Operators Considering SDN and NFV
SDN and NFV bring a completely new way of building networks. New software technology replaces hardware. This allows operators to build, plan and deploy their networks in a brand new way. But old legacy equipment still needs automation and the new SDN/NFV area lacks the automated service delivery process.
A lot of questions remain when it comes to management of SDN networks. This is even more evident when you realize that operators will have traditional legacy networks in combination with SDN networks for a long time to come. This is also the case for dedicated hardware functions and services; they will be utilized in parallel to virtualized network functions.
The old way of doing things still exists. When looking at the solutions that are brought to the market for SDN, either as commercially available solutions or as Proof of Concepts, they are all still very manual processes. The automation needed just isn’t there.
How do we manage the coexistence of legacy and SDN networks, and how do we start today when standards are not defined yet?
Invest Today in Capabilities of Today and Tomorrow – BECS
With BECS, this is straightforward. BECS is the strongest network and service management automation system in the industry. It can be used to automate almost any type of network and offers end-to-end management from CPE/CE level up to the core network. As BECS supports all major hardware manufacturers, it is especially suitable in multi-vendor environment enabling network harmonization. The BECS northbound API provides an abstraction layer, allowing OSS/BSS systems to remain agnostic for the underlying hardware infrastructure and network topology.
Thanks to the strong element management framework in BECS, an SDN controller is handled just like any other network equipment, applying the network automation engine to both legacy and SDN. BECS’ service automation invokes Virtualized services the same way as traditional services. By letting BECS manage both the legacy and the SDN parts of the network, all the service automation in BECS previously used for the legacy network becomes immediately available also for the SDN part.
Radical Changes without a lot of Changes!
This results in true co-existence of legacy and SDN/NFV networks, without having to change the northbound integration between BECS and other OSS and BSS platforms. And since SDN controller is handled in a way any network equipment would, it can be easily replaced with another new controller when the situation demands. This makes sure that even if the standards are not defined now, or bound to change in the future, BECS can always easily integrate to new standards. This is how, for a minimum cost, BECS provides truly seamless legacy to SDN network transformation. Whether you are using legacy equipment, virtual network functions or a combination of both, your provisioning process is the same, thanks to an open and well-defined API.
The largest benefit for an operator will be the ability to phase out the expensive legacy systems, but also to have the option to phase it out in their own tempo, protecting the value invested in the current hardware. While phasing out the hardware-based system the operator will be able to reduce the OPEX (reduced management of network, but also lower costs for integrations with surrounding systems), improve customer satisfaction (lower churn rates) and reduce lead times when launching new services.
In summary, investing in BECS not only enables operators to harvest the benefits of network and service management automation today, but also provides a gradual and future-proof path to tomorrow’s savings provided by SDN and NFV.
Open Access vs. Vertical business model
In the vertical business model, services are provided by the network owner, while in the open access model they are provided by external service providers.
Open Access can be achieved by leasing the complete fiber as bit-pipe to a single service provider. This method however, sets a cap for the network operators earnings.
A more common alternative is to provide Open Access on a service level, where service providers are given a virtual connection (e.g. VLAN) to deliver a specific service. This means the network owner can sell the network capacity over the same fiber to multiple service providers. It also enables the delivery of other, non-profit services, such as municipality or e-health services.
The Open Access model demands specific requirements for OSS and BSS layers. One of the main aspects is the more complex environment that many service providers and services create. Many of the networks PacketFront Software’s products support have hundreds of services. To implement this business model requires a high level of automation to keep the OpEx at bay and to provide 100% accurate information between network owner and service providers.
PacketFront Software: True Open Access pioneers
As the Open Access networks started to emerge at the beginning of the 21st century in the Nordic countries, PacketFront Software was the first supplier providing tailored solutions for these networks. Today our products are used by more than 50 Open Access networks throughout the world.
So, what is unique with our solution? First of all, we have built our BECS and BBE platforms from the very beginning to support Open Access. We can provide an off-the-shelf solution catering for the specific requirements of Open Access networks.
Some of the main features required for Open Access networks are:
- Fully automated service provisioning flow from dynamic end-user portal to network element configuration
- Strict separation between Network Owner and Service Providers.
- Service providers can create and manage end-customer services.
- Service Providers can trouble shoot end-customers.
- Service Provider are not allowed to see competitors customers or services.
- Support for Service Provider invoicing
We provide well-proven solutions for the complex multi-vendor networks. Network abstraction with our solutions radically increases the level of automation and reduces the integration cost.
Our products were built to deliver true end-to-end automation in high-volume scenarios. Using PacketFront Software’s BECS and Managed Business Services portal, the daily operation and maintenance of the end-customers LAN and WiFi networks becomes fully automated reducing the workload and eliminating configuration errors.