Q&A: Jiangsu Mobile pushes automation to prepare for 5G
Chen Ying, chief engineer of the network department at China Mobile (Jiangsu), outlined the operator’s roadmap for streamlining operations and maintenance tasks to prepare for the 5G era with increased network scale and complexity.
Q: What prompted the move to transform China Mobile’s operations and maintenance (O&M) in Jiangsu province?
Chen Ying (CY): There are two main factors. The first is workload driven. The expected increase in the number of users and business traffic will boost network maintenance work. This problem needs to be solved by improving the efficiency of operation and maintenance. The second aspect is driven by new technologies. The evolution of 5G network architecture to cloudification requires operation and maintenance personnel to deploy and maintain network services through resource orchestration.
Q: What are your main objectives? What is your timeframe?
CY: The goal of China Mobile Jiangsu is to increase the level of automation and intelligence in network operations by comprehensively using various technical methods so that the machines can do more repetitive and basic work, while maintaining operational expenditure and improving operational efficiency. Our goal is to double the automation rate of network O&M within three to five years.
Q: What specific areas are you focused on in the beginning?
CY: Network O&M involves many aspects, covering different areas such as mobile broadband, fixed broadband, NFV and 5G network operations. Our intelligent operation transformation started with the less mature automation areas of O&M.
For example, wireless network resources allocation, transmission maintenance and checking of trouble tickets for fault alarm handling.
Q: What benefits will the move bring in terms of reducing costs, improving efficiency and enhancing quality?
CY: Intelligent operation transformation can reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance quality. For example, part of wireless network resources can now be dynamically allocated throughout the entire province using software.
Q: Why did you select Huawei as a partner – what can it deliver that other vendors are not able to?
CY: The main consideration is that Huawei has rich experience in telecoms networks. The company has the largest market share of ICT operation and maintenance services in the global market and manages hundreds of networks. Currently, thousands of dev-ops and a large number of partners have launched more than 1,000 O&M applications on Huawei’s Operation Web Services (OWS) platform to continuously enrich the capabilities.
Q: Why is having a next-generation OSS architecture in place so important?
CY: The main direction of future telecoms network evolution is the cloudification of the network architecture. In the new cloudified network era, the next-generation OSS is a must to enable better control, operation and maintenance of networks.
For example, the OSS is essential to support the functions such as control, allocation, self-healing and scaling of cloud network elements. Besides, the requirements, application, allocation, installation, configuration and start-up of the resource pool of the next-generation network will be managed by the OSS.
Q: How will the platform allow you to evolve towards an intelligent O&M model?
CY: Huawei’s OWS is a cloud-based operation platform, offering four modules: perception, analysis, decision-making and execution. It implements unified data service, automation as well as open orchestration capabilities. In addition, the platform can separate design and running status, and achieve layered decoupling and on-demand deployment to enable agile transformation.
Q: Can you explain how the open platform, using specific models and algorithms, can be programmed to enable operators to transform their O&M activities?
CY: Huawei’s OWS uses a microservice architecture to decouple capabilities for the future OSS architecture. It is able to implement full-stack network monitoring and automatic and intelligent operation through a unified platform and breaks down O&M information silos caused by traditional siloed OSS. It also supports visualised orchestration of multiple service scenarios, and flexible multi-vendor integration and interconnection.
Q: What are the key capabilities in terms of troubleshooting and predicting interruptions?
CY: The OWS platform implements automatic rule deployment and intelligent application in the fields of fault management, change management and preventive maintenance to realise automatic alarm correlation compression, automatic fault diagnosis and recovery, and work-order automation. In addition, the platform uses machines to replace repetitive tasks done by humans, achieving operation acceleration and improving the standardisation and quality of operations.
Q: How are you preparing for a future-oriented 5G era?
CY: In the 5G era, the network scale will become very large and complex. Efficient and agile intelligent operation mode is critical. Automation and intelligence are significant for improving 5G service quality and to facilitate O&M personnel skillset transformation. For example, service provisioning and recovery and end-user service quality awareness can be realised with more intelligence embedded in O&M systems.
“In the new cloudified network era, the next-generation OSS is a must to enable better control, operation and maintenance of networks.”