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Business Service Assurance: It’s Time for a Fresh Approach - Part 2
Because of the complexity of networks, today, CSPs must change their business assurance approaches because they do not cover end-to-end cloud services. (See Part 1, “Business Service Assurance: It’s Time for a Fresh Approach.”) Specifically, CSPs struggle with WAN assurance because services live in the cloud; these services are beyond the control of the CSPs. Although the CSP does not own the cloud, the customers consider the CSP the single point of contact for all issues whether in LAN, WAN, internet or cloud. In such cases, the CSP can struggle or even fail to demarcate and isolate a problem beyond the CSP’s boundary because the assurance tools do not focus on the user’s experience, which has become a key business requirement as more customers ask for a better and higher quality application experiences.
In this blog, Part 2 of the series, I discuss a better approach that I call Gen 2, an end-to-end, more holistic approach to assurance. However, to move to the new approach, a CSP must understand the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 (the two generations of business connectivity), as shown in the diagram.
Difference between the Service Assurance of Gen 1 and Gen 2
The services in Gen 1 sit in the business customer’s data center. But due to the digital transformation, many business services are being consumed off the cloud (SaaS and IaaS).
One option to monitor end-to-end cloud services involves the use of inline insertion tools for assurance, creating more budget loss, latency, and potentially more points of failure. Gen 2 tools, on the other hand, are more software-centric and aim to reuse the existing network elements without inserting new inline tools.
Service Assurance Guidelines for Gen 2
While there are several things to look for in the service assurance tools for Gen 2, the following are three features I consider most important.
1. Look for an end-to-end, easy-to-use tool instead of a point tool.
Gen 2 can potentially increase the number of trouble tickets because of the many domains involved in the service. The end user calls the CSP for every issue whether it is in LAN, WAN or cloud. This can keep the CSP’s operation team perpetually busy as it’s the CRM team, which does not have the visibility tool to identify the issue, that raises tickets. Even though the problem does not belong to the operation team it is this team that must identify and isolate the issue.
Gen 2 tools provide end-to-end visibility and can identify and isolate issues in the WAN, the LAN, the internet, and the cloud domain. They are easy to use; the CRM team or the customer can access them through a portal. Utilizing a Gen 2 tool would eliminate many ticket escalations because the CRM team now has a tool that can show the customer that the issue does not belong to the CSP’s domain, effectively bringing down the operation expense associated with utilizing expensive troubleshooting practices by expert engineers that would need to deal with an issue that does not belong to the CSP.
2. The user’s experience is a key requirement for the next-generation assurance systems. Look beyond the transport KPIs.
Although transport KPIs, like latency and jitter, at Layer 2/3 are essential, they do not convey sufficient information. Gen 2 tools are session-aware and provide details about the user’s experience. With session awareness, the tool provides performance for each customer's session, thus closely matching what the customer experiences. It can pinpoint precisely how each application performs, what each user is experiencing, and what domain of the service is causing issues. When choosing your next assurance system, look for session awareness in addition to transport-aware solutions.
3. Move from service assurance to intent-based assurance driven by AI.
Services are far more complex today, and the failure points are more diverse. A simple assurance system will convey very little information, and just automating the current assurance systems is not enough. The systems must evolve to automation that is based on intent.
Intent-based assurance means the network performs as intended. It uses powerful analytics, machine learning, and automation intelligence by collecting data from the network, sessions, applications, and clients and runs complex algorithms to provide a 360° view of the end-to-end network at layers. It creates an accurate model of the network and can identify the service experience of every customer in real time. By creating a baseline and using it as a benchmark, it can better track the deviation of the network from this reference in real time. It can self-learn and is continuously improving its intelligence and able to identify issues with the network. Intent-based assurance is dynamic, flexible, and intelligent.
Gen 1 tools are not enough for Gen 2 services, nor will they satisfy the new requirements of the migration to the cloud. The services are more complex, diverse, and dynamic. Continuing to operate in the same way will be operationally intensive and time-consuming. CSPs need to take an out-of-box approach and look into what they have, what they can add or replace. They have options. Today, there are much smarter tools that offer rich analytics and take advantage of automated intelligence. With smart tools in place, the CSP can focus its energies on creating new services, innovating, and expediting the service launch rather than continuously engaging in resolving problems that, in many cases, originate outside of its domain.
RAD has recently launched RADinsight, a cloud-based, AI-powered, SaaS-based performance monitoring service for end-to-end fault isolation within and beyond the CSP network that uses data from RAD’s Ethernet access devices (EADs/NIDs) for analysis.
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The difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2 of business connectivity and the holistic approach to service assurance.
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He has five patents to his name.
With an inviting smile, surrounded by his lab materials, sits Zvika Eitan, Fiber Optics Team Leader. Positivity and interest in progress are his assets, which is how he garnered his five patents, earned under the wing of RAD.
Each patent has a story from Zvika. Here is his story of the BiDi Dual-to-Single Fiber QSFP28 Adaptor.