As competition increases among large and small carriers alike, removing barriers to efficiency and improved service have become crucial to staying in the game.

Ahead of this week’s Competitive Carriers Association conference in Florida, Wireless Week touched base with WebNMS regional director Darryl Stork to chat about how network orchestration impacts an operator’s costs, services and delivery.

Wireless Week: What operational barriers currently exist for wireless network operators?

Darryl Stork: Barriers include operational inefficiency and excessive cost in terms of multiple systems required with large OSS overhead to manage services from an end-to-end perspective in a multi-vendor and multi-technology environment.

To either activate new services or alter existing services requires much time and data manipulation across multiple vendor/OEM-specific systems. Our experience in the market tells us that the average time from new customer service request to activation is circa four weeks.

This indicates a significant competitive disadvantage as subscribers require faster response times and dynamic service activation; therefore, often churn occurs or revenue is lost through extended time to billing.

WW: What role can orchestration play in alleviating these barriers, specifically?

DS: Orchestration directly provides the capability to reduce the vendor EMS/NMS and OSS systems required to manage the network completely. There is a significant cost reduction associated with fewer systems to maintain as well as vastly improved operational response time to service activation/change requests.

Not only are there specific EMS /NMS systems required for each vendor/OEM found in the network, but typically service providers also deploy additional consolidated, functional third-party systems such as performance management, fault management, inventory, reporting, visualization, etc. This further adds cost, operational overhead and even the requirement to maintain skill sets to operate the myriad applications.

Orchestration aims to alleviate these problems by consolidating not only vendor-specific management but also across the functional applications (as indicated above), thereby reducing complexity in the network.

WW: What value does orchestration have for small carriers in particular?

DS: Orchestration specifically means transitioning to single (or a vastly reduced number of) systems and a centralized, consolidated management capability. Smaller carriers with less management systems budget and experience often are fearful of overhauling their internal management systems due to perceived large associated costs and protracted migration/system build periods.

This is simply not the case; the concepts of orchestration are very much aimed at simplifying the OSS and BSS landscape with the added benefit of reduced time to service activation and billing.

Orchestration systems enable smaller operators to compete on an equal basis with the Tier 1 service providers in that typically their reduced network footprint and network complexity as well as less rigid and siloed functional engineering departments actually mean that deployment of such systems is much easier and can happen in a much shorter time frame. This also gives the smaller carrier the ability to very quickly launch or test launch subscriber services.

Aside from the cost savings and operational efficiency gains, an orchestration platform also gives the operator the flexibility to adopt new vendors into their network as and when required without having to consider too extensively the OSS landscape. Also new technologies such as SDN and NFV are inherently beneficial, but what most operators do not realize is that adoption of such technologies introduces additional complexity into the network management requirements. Orchestration platforms typically provide a layer of abstraction that enables the exploration of such technologies while removing the overhead associated therewith.

WW: What solutions does WebNMS have to offer to this end?

DS: WebNMS offers modular solutions for all technology aspects of the network, including Carrier Ethernet, IP/MPLS and access (broadband, satellite, TV set-top box, wireless access, etc.), which proffers ultimate flexibility to the service provider to manage specific domains or all-inclusive end-to-end capability.

The WebNMS Symphony Orchestration Platform is one of the only commercially available solutions that offers true multi-vendor and multi-technology capability. Within the Symphony platform, full functionality for performance management, fault management, provisioning and configuration management, discovery, inventory, topology, visualization and security is consolidated within a single platform.

We are very focused on providing not only an operationally efficient solution with inherent cost savings but also in providing our customers with flexibility through a platform that can be adapted and customized to their unique environments with very little effort and cost as well as capable of being deployed in much shorter time frames than other industry offerings.