Automation and analytics

Automation: the new frontier

For several years now, Automation has also been establishing itself in the world of telecommunications networks both as a primary feature of some technological evolutions, and as a support tool for increasing efficiency and operational effectiveness by automating manual activities.

Service Providers have been implementing strategies for the automation of network infrastructures for some time, to optimize operations and management. A trend of technological and process evolution that also significantly affects the programming and evolution of infrastructures.

There are different variations of Automation within the organization and network domains of a telco operator, which we can divide into two macro-families. The first is that of automation as a fundamental part of some trends of technological evolution (Telco Cloud, SDN/NFV, Edge Computing, Cloud Computing, etc.), whose reference frameworks provide for programmable interactions between the various functional components that constitute it; the other is that of process automation in which, conversely, the software component is used to model and automate operational processes.

The common feature of the various variations is the possibility of making operations that would not have these characteristics if carried out manually, much faster, replicable, standardized and error-proof.
In particular, in the field of network automation, the need is to be able to use a single platform for the automation of the various domains that constitute it: the IP network domain, the transport network domain and the access network domain. (Fixed and Mobile).

The first benefit is to take advantage of the same modeling properties of configurations on different domains to focus on the design and definition of the service making it independent of the underlying technological complexity.

The second benefit is to act in a coordinated manner with the configurations in the different domains, to enable an end-to-end service or to manage network dynamics related to component malfunctions.
An example is the situation that occurs following the breakdown of a fiber cable which requires coordinated changes on the different network levels, minimizing the disruption.

The third benefit is to standardize the management of IP / optical network domains As part of the convergence between the two technologies.

Data Analytics: an added value for the operation of the networks

The data collected on network infrastructures can be used by operators to proactively improve performance in data-driven logic and with the use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

In fact, they can count on a large number of measurements, CDRs, messages, logs generated by the network nodes, by the application platforms, by the management and monitoring systems and, lastly, by specialized active and passive probes inserted in the network.

They have access to traffic, equipment, service and network data both at the access level and at the core network level, as well as performance indicators, events and alarms generated in response to the occurrence of particular conditions.

Operators also have data and measurements relating to the applications transported, the number of users who use them and a series of specific information typical of the family to which these applications belong (e.g. page load time for web browsing, latency and resolution for videostreaming, etc.).

In order to govern such growing complexity, it becomes central to act on a double level:

  • integrate and correlate the existing information bases between them.
  • enrich the information base available in order to have a better knowledge of the applications carried by the network;

And, finally, equip oneself with tools capable of extracting value from the enormous amount of information collected and processed.

It is also essential to understand not only the volume of traffic generated by the applications, but also the number of users who use them, their geographical distribution, the type of access and devices used.

Data analytics for networks: Italtel projects and achievements

For years Italtel has been carrying out projects in the field of data analytics, combining both the knowledge and development of software platforms necessary for the collection and processing of data, and methodological and specialist skills in this context.

In the field of Analytics and Business Intelligence, Italtel has governed the implementation of solutions capable of recognizing and measuring the traffic that travels on the network, including that of OTT applications, with the collection and processing of measurements and statistics both in real time and with a frequency ranging from 5 minutes a day. The data acquired and processed (up to 1 billion per day) concerns everything that transits the network and can be grouped into the categories of data and voice traffic, mobile and fixed, web browsing, peer to peer, video streaming, collaboration, etc.

This includes up/down bandwidth measurements, latency, round trip time (RTT), indications on the distribution of content in the various Points of Presence (PoP) of the network, type of access, type of device used, etc.
Although an increasing number of applications carry their payload in encrypted mode, the solutions in place are able to reconstruct the syntax and therefore to produce measures similar to those for unencrypted traffic. It is also possible to obtain valuable information on the sources of this traffic which, in the case of video streaming, for example, is equivalent to having information about the original Content Delivery Network (CDN).

For further information

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