Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Network automation reduces labour time, error rates and costs by 70% and more

Larry Goldman And Andrew Killeen, Analysys Mason
Monday 08 November 21

Many operators have begun their network automation journeys but are at different stages and have taken different approaches. Different operators serving diverse customer bases and geographies, and at different scales of operations have varying needs for automating tools to suit their situation. We interviewed multiple operators, and their responses illustrate the patchwork progress of automation, with some operators focusing their efforts on network assurance and others dedicating their resources to service fulfilment. This article explores how the operators we interviewed use network automation to drive benefits in each category. In our previous blog we have shown that operators can get significant benefits through network automation at the domain controller…

Many operators have begun their network automation journeys but are at different stages and have taken different approaches. Different operators serving diverse customer bases and geographies, and at different scales of operations have varying needs for automating tools to suit their situation. We interviewed multiple operators, and their responses illustrate the patchwork progress of automation, with some operators focusing their efforts on network assurance and others dedicating their resources to service fulfilment. This article explores how the operators we interviewed use network automation to drive benefits in each category.

In our previous blog we have shown that operators can get significant benefits through network automation at the domain controller. This automation significantly reduces the manual labour times and prevalence of errors from order fallout and human errors throughout an operator’s service fulfilment, network lifecycle management, and network and service assurance processes. Our study* quantifies the benefits of network automation to operators. 

* Available at: https://www.nokia.com/networks/automation/measurable-benefits/ 

Standardisation and error minimisation are some of the greatest advantages that automation can bring 

Our operator interviews reported significant benefits, with up to 86% cost avoidance, from the automation of service fulfilment processes with the use of templates and standard scenarios for service fulfilment. This automation significantly reduced the manual labour times and prevalence of errors from order fallout and human errors throughout service fulfilment processes. These benefits were particularly prevalent for service modifications, which typically required network operations staff to manually delete the service and provision a new service with the modified configuration. 
 
Further, operators revealed that automated service deletion resulted in the more efficient use of network equipment that corresponded to additional capex savings. One operator reported that 20% of its network ports continued to host discontinued, deleted services. By automating service deletion, the operator was able to more efficiently use its existing network equipment to host its active services, reducing the need to deploy new equipment. The operator also shared that this automation removed the need to conduct manual audits of network equipment to identify the discontinued services, saving further time and resources.
 
Zero touch provisioning capabilities are key for automating network lifecycle management
 
Network lifecycle management covers the provisioning and upgrade of network equipment and can be highly automated. Operators reported a range of solutions driving benefits, up to 65% cost avoidance, in these operations from automated network discovery processes to pre-check and post-check audits for software upgrades. Zero touch provisioning capabilities through the domain controller are a key driver for these solutions. All operators interviewed shared that equipment backup processes have already been automated since this includes highly repetitive tasks with sometimes daily configuration backups being made.
 
Labour intensive manual network and service assurance processes can be very highly automated
 
Labour intensive manual correlation processes for custom alarm correlation can be highly automated. Operators reported large benefits, up to a 71% reduction in labour time, from the automation of network and service assurance processes by enabling employees to easily correlate faults and alarms, identify issues, and implement the resolution significantly faster. Automation benefits custom alarm correlation two-fold; firstly, automatic correlation successfully captures most alarms reducing the number of cases that need to be manually correlated, secondly automatic grouping and assessments make the manual correlation easier and quicker to complete. Further benefits to network and service assurance occur by enabling staff to troubleshoot and triage issues quicker.
 
This blog has explored how standardised and automated processes can reduce cost and labour time within each of the three categories discussed. The next, and final, blog in this series will lay out the key recommendations from our study. Analysys Mason and Nokia will be running an on-demand webinar presenting the study, its results, and Nokia’s Network Services Platform (NSP) solutions.
 
Larry Goldman
 
 
In his role as Chief Analyst, Larry co-ordinates Analysys Mason’s work on leading-edge topics in TMT. He also leads network and software research. For the past 20 years, he has delivered analysis and forecasts of the rapidly changing role of software in telecoms, and more recently, cloud. Before working in telecoms research, Larry held technology management roles at telecoms operators and vendors.
 
Andrew Killeen
 
 
Andrew is a consultant based in Analysys Mason’s London office. As a technology, media, and telecom (TMT) consultant, Andrew has worked with a wide range of clients worldwide, including network operators, vendors and industry bodies. His work focuses on using market analysis, sizing, forecasting and competitive benchmarking to inform clients' planning and strategy. His project experience has ranged from 5G and the internet of things to virtualisation, cloud technologies and machine learning. Much of Andrew’s work has used original, international research, including expert interviews and consumer and enterprise surveys.

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