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Published on May 19, 2020

EXFO and LightRiver collaborate to improve operator real-time inventory awareness

With the convergence of 4G (and even legacy 3G) infrastructure and technologies with emerging 5G deployments, it’s more important than ever that operators have an accurate real-time, end-to-end view of their network and services topology. Without this critical information, it’s impossible for CSPs to cost- effectively optimize the utilization of resources, facilitate service provisioning, accelerate fault detection and reduce mean time to repair (MTTR). Feeding that end-to-end view is a mountain of data coming from many different sources. Automation, including automated data triaging and processing, becomes mandatory as human manipulation of all that information is no longer an option.

Gaining access to accurate data from disparate sources is a challenge on its own, but it’s especially tough given today’s co-mingling of multiple technologies, environments and architectures. On top of that, add the requirement into the mix that data be of the “real time” variety, which is paramount to the success of orchestration and closed loop automation, and now we’re talking about a whole other level of complexity. This is where process automation plays a critical role, particularly when it comes to getting a grasp of network inventory.

The biggest, largest hurdle to overcome when implementing any process automation project revolves around inventory and the accuracy of its data. Whether designing or activating a service, managing capacity, troubleshooting or for any type of automated use case—if a service path is unknown then good luck achieving those goals. The collaboration between LightRiver and EXFO is all about giving operators a clear, accurate picture of their inventory, both physical and services, through the comparison and reconciliation of inventory data with live network data. It’s under the umbrella of optimizing operational efficiency through automation while delivering, in real-time, a precise end-to-end federated topology that the two companies are collaborating at one of North America’s largest tier one operators.

Collaborating to deliver a real-time view of network and topology

LightRiver architects, designs, deploys, manages and automates some of the largest most complex transport/optical networks on the planet. Related to automation, LightRiver deployments include the largest Tier 1 wireless service providers, wireline service providers and data center/exchange providers across North America and worldwide. LightRiver’s netFLEX® delivers end-to-end network automation for transport—from traditional legacy technologies all the way to the next gen, packet-edge technologies. As one unified source of information for the entire transport network, netFLEX delivers real-time discovery and visualization of what is in the network, enabling quality comparisons and reconciliation with topology views built on inventory data alone. This reduces the complexity of having to transform and normalize multiple data sources, giving operators accurate, complete visibility into the transport layer.

Nova Context’s real-time active topology solution is part of EXFO’s portfolio of smarter test, monitoring and analytics offerings for fixed and mobile network operators, webscale companies and equipment manufacturers in the global communications industry. The strength of Nova Context is its ability to federate disparate inventory data sources into a combined topology, combining those with other feeds from across the entire network. Through a cross domain topology of the whole transmission network, it is possible to support the design of service circuits by dynamically linking what is originally managed in silo networks. The solution removes distinctions between networks and creates a reference model that links them together. The reference model is then used to provide path design recommendations in response to service connection requests. This means that requests for a cross-domain connection are made by users via a GUI and by a service orchestrator via API calls. Users are then able to calculate a set of optimal paths and determine the design necessary for their implementation. Path recommendations are then communicated back to the orchestrator who is free to automatically create the service from the provided design. As a result, Nova Context delivers valuable insight to use cases related to network capacity planning, assurance and service path provisioning.

LightRiver’s netFLEX contributes to EXFO’s Nova Context deployment by providing one uniform, real-time inventory feed originating from the live transport domain. This data is delivered via open and extensible REST API services for bulk updates or subscribed updates. When anything changes on the transport side—across the physical (resource inventory) or the services layer (logical, inventory configuration level)—netFLEX updates Nova Context in real-time about that change. Combining data supplied by netFLEX against other inventory data sources enables Nova Context to validate overall data accuracy and flag discrepancies for further investigation. The collaboration streamlines the management of complex, cross-domain, multilayer network and service topologies—making the process faster and the result more reliable.

To learn more about how Nova Context brings operators an end-to-end dynamic view of network, services and customer dependencies that's kept constantly up to date, visit the EXFO Nova Context product page.

To learn more about netFLEX and how this network automation platform can reduce the complexities of managing multi-vendor, multi-technology environments, visit the LightRiver netFLEX page.

Learn more about EXFO Nova Context

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