Intelligent Infrastructure Management ,The complexity of network technologies increases operational requirements. One issue is keeping track of the distributed physical, logical and virtual resources of different technologies. The digital twin of a hybrid network infrastructure can provide support.
Telecommunications providers want to offer the best possible user experience: This includes interacting with customers in a high-quality manner and providing services that are as trouble-free as possible with low latency times. The increasing complexity of the network technologies used is desirable and the progressive virtualization of network functions, the increasing dynamism of configuration changes in the network and the integration of partner solutions are also part of it. In this way, it is often possible to react more agilely to customer and market requirements. But with the complexity of the networks, the operational requirements also increase.
A network infrastructure consists of geographically distributed resources with different technologies. This makes it difficult to get an overview of the infrastructure with its connections and dependencies. This is precisely what is decisive in order to be able to quickly initiate the necessary measures in the event of an error and to be able to plan the provision of services, network expansions or rollouts efficiently and implement them without disruption. Intelligent infrastructure management can help telecommunications providers to keep track and work efficiently: in planning, in operation, and in capacity management.
A complex technology mix
The infrastructures of telecommunications providers are complex. They include business services for mobile or fixed-line customers, the underlying logical connections in the backbone or access network, the corresponding physical network nodes and devices, passive components such as cables, distributors and antennas, but also applications and virtual resources on servers in data centers come into use. Cables and fiber optics in particular play a central role in this. They are the lifelines of modern society and ultimately shoulder the exponential growth of global data traffic. The mobile networks, in particular the expansion of 5G technology with the connection of the individual 5G mobile sites, increases the demand for fiber optics enormously.
While traditional technologies in the transport and access areas are being expanded and renewed, transformations are also taking place in terms of virtualization of functionalities (Network Function Virtualization, NFV). This goes hand in hand with an expansion of the core data center capacities at the service providers and an increasing expansion of edge data centers. This is also due to the increasing need to be able to run specific applications closer to end users and, for example, to process IoT data close to the IoT production site. On the one hand, this can avoid the transport of large amounts of data through the network, and on the other hand, data streams consisting of smaller amounts of data can be processed with minimal latency.
Plan with the digital twin
In a hybrid network infrastructure, the complex mix of technologies must not cause the overview to be lost. A central solution for end-to-end management of infrastructure resources can help here. The basis of such a solution is an integrated data model in which all dependencies from the infrastructure setup to the business service are stored, from the location to the physical, logical and virtual assets to the applications and services. This intelligent infrastructure management can also provide other systems and processes with accurate cable, network and service information and thus enables a continuous analysis of the current situation in the network.
This digital twin represents a digital image of the current network situation. On this basis, IT managers can efficiently plan changes, extensions or complete rollouts in the network. In order to keep the status quo in infrastructure management up to date, the information is continuously compared with the network data. This happens, for example, with the active network components via the connection to appropriate management systems for the respective network areas and technologies.
Based on planned extensions, work orders are automatically generated and sent to the appropriate departments. When those responsible have carried out the work order, the planned extensions are set to an actual status using workflow control in the system. Alternatively, the new actual data can also be loaded from the network via the interfaces to the management systems. In doing so, the planned expansion will be implemented according to the current status in accordance with the comparison with the network data.
Closed loop principle for data consistency
This sequence of network changes is also referred to as the closed-loop principle. This aims at a high data consistency. Closed loop means that the network configurations created in a planning phase are gradually transferred to the respective execution level, followed by rollout, installation and operation phases. The cycle is closed when the resources in operation are compared to the resources originally planned and any data discrepancies are resolved. This ensures that the next planning cycle is based on verified and accurate data and that technicians don’t expect any surprises when installing new planned resources on site.
This principle also applies to the planning and management of cable infrastructures. However, no interfaces can be implemented in order to load the data of the passive cable infrastructure with its distributors, sleeves or splice cassettes into a system or to automatically adjust changes in the network. To do this, the status must be changed manually in the management system. The georeferenced representation of network infrastructures is of great importance for cable management. A digital map with the locations, buildings, junctions and routes offers an overview of a network area. It can provide insight into details. This GIS-based view provides a basis for planning.
Edge Computing Challenges
Building the 5G cellular networks is one of the most important use cases for edge computing. These networks enable faster transfer of data between devices in the field and the edge data centers. This influx of data, amplified by the Internet of Things, often needs to be processed with minimal latency, driving the need for edge computing.
From an operational perspective, there is a need to remotely manage and operate a larger number of geographically distributed edge data centers. From an infrastructure management perspective, IT leaders should support operations, capacity planning, and change management with a comprehensive and integrated view of data center resources. This also includes the building infrastructure, including power supply, cooling and floor space, the IT infrastructure with its networks, servers and storage, and the services. Since this involves a large number of geographically distributed plants, which are costly and time-consuming for employees to visit, mapping these resources in a digital twin can offer decisive operational advantages.