Cloud Pak for Network Automation

IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation v 2.1 Announcement

By Carmel Burgess posted Wed April 28, 2021 06:26 AM

  

Overview

IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation 2.1 (formerly IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager) is a unified management solution to support the transformation of communications service provider (CSP) telecommunications networks to disaggregated, fully-automated cloud-native platforms. This solution is supported by an open ecosystem that enables rapid onboarding of certified VNFs and CNFs.

Cloud Pak for Network Automation contains an orchestrator that enables CSPs to rapidly design, deploy, configure, and manage network functions, network services, and the infrastructure on which they run through a combination of intent-driven orchestration and DevOps toolchains.

Cloud Pak for Network Automation extends the interoperability of the solution through the addition of support for standard European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) management and network orchestration (MANO) interfaces and adds capabilities to support radio access networks (RANs) where most initial infrastructure transformation is occurring.

Cloud Pak for Network Automation builds on an updated set of services and capabilities running on Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, including IBM Automation Foundation that delivers the ability to deploy IBM Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and process mining capabilities.

Challenges

CSPs are modernizing their networks through network virtualization and cloudification. This involves replacing physical network appliances with VNFs and CNFs, and creating cloud infrastructure up and down the stack, from the infrastructure level to the application level. This modernization helps deliver agility, rapid scaling, healing, and resource sharing. 

Some of the challenges on this journey include:

  • End-to-end orchestration through network services onboarding and interoperability
  • Transition to Hybrid mode to enable the operation of both the new and old environment
  • Dynamic environments requiring operations support system modernization
  • More complex environments, including 5G, requiring multiple network cloud instancing and slicing

To be successful and to accelerate the design, build, and deployment of networks, CSPs are looking for open technologies and horizontal platforms that provide complete automation that are vendor-agnostic. Because the worlds of telecommunication networks and IT are coming together, the best practices in DevOps and software automation are becoming key enablers for success.

Benefits

Cloud Pak for Network Automation provides open integration of external virtual and physical resources to be assembled with others to create complete services. While orchestrating such assemblies, a set of one or more external resource managers through their northbound APIs are leveraged to orchestrate the lifecycles of the managed resource instances deployed to virtual infrastructure managers (VIMs). Resource managers are responsible for communicating with the VIMs to request actions on cloud infrastructure compute, storage, and network resources to support the deployed resource instance lifecycles. 

New capabilities

  1. Site planner
This enables Network and Infrastructure Engineers to design, build, and manage the intended state of data centers. It supports network services that compose of VNF and CNF workloads that have explicit network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) requirements.
The site planner supports modeling the following items to represent the intended state of a site:

  • Equipment racks organized by group and site.
  • Types of devices, their configuration and capabilities, and where they are installed.
  • Network, console, and power connections among devices.
  • Virtualization of machines and clusters.
  • Data from communications circuits and providers.
  • IP networks and addresses, virtual routing and forwarding (VRF), and virtual local area networks (VLANs)
Site models are backed by automation packages that are composed of descriptors, scripts, and images. These can be assembled dynamically into automated processes to reconcile the intended state in the site planner with the actual state of the site once the hardware has been racked, cabled, and powered on. As the site planner changes the intended state of a site model over time, further processes can be dynamically created to reconcile the site again.
  1. Carrier grade support for ETSI MANO standards

Support for the following ETSI standards in this release: 

  • ETSI GS NFV-SOL 002: RESTful protocols specification for the Ve-Vnfm Reference Point
  • ETSI GS NFV-SOL 003: RESTful protocols specification for the Or-Vnfm Reference Point
  • ETSI GS NFV-SOL 005 APIs: RESTful protocols specification for the Os-Ma-nfvo Reference Point

ETSI Package Management can import network vendor ETSI-compliant CSAR packages into Cloud Pak for Network Automation: 

  1. Orchestration and automation for virtual open RANs 

Features that support the automated orchestration of open RAN deployment: 

  • Open RAN standards compliance.
  • Operational Hub dashboard to monitor orchestration intent progress and diagnostics.
  • RAN inventory model that represents RAN deployment.
  • RAN policies and flows for automation of call flows for the infrastructure and the software components of the platform.
  • RAN intent automation models for orchestration and management of RAN xNF interfaces.
  1. IBM Automation Foundation
  • Updated services: To support ongoing enhancements adding automation and AI features, Cloud Pak for Network Automation builds on and includes Automation Foundation. With Automation Foundation, organizations can enable optional use of automation features to assist in the creation, deployment, and optimization of integration capabilities.
  • RPA capabilities: In addition to the existing capabilities, the Cloud Pak for Network Automation includes a chargeable option that enables the deployment of RPA. Deploying RPA features in the Cloud Pak for Network Automation enables screen scraping and metadata inference to extract data from legacy applications and to utilize these features in other Cloud Pak for Network Automation components. 
  • Process Mining: Many capabilities deployed in the Cloud Pak for Network Automation and the various systems that Cloud Pak for Network Automation connects and interacts with comprise multiple steps. There may be opportunities for improvement, but it can be difficult to understand where inefficiencies exist. Process Mining is an additional chargeable component available in the Cloud Pak for Network Automation. Process Mining can identify areas where inefficiencies exist and suggest improvements for your users.

Additional Information


Author: Brian Kirwan, Offering Manager

 

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