Optical network automation delivers the goods

Created March 27, 2024
Technical Features

Analysys Mason & Nokia study shows automation can save operators up to 81% in network and service management costs

Do you remember when all freight trains had cabooses (or brake vans for the European readers)? The little red car at the back of the train carried the conductor, who was responsible for issues like wheel defects or dragging equipment that would affect safe and timely operations. They were phased out in the 1980s when railroads installed track-side equipment to automatically detect those issues, allowing for the trains to be run more efficiently.



A similar transition is happening in transport optical networks. Automation is incorporating new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to make it easier to run the networks more efficiently and with less human intervention. But like a train, it’s taking a while for the new technology to get up to speed because automation represents a fundamental transformation to how network operators plan, commission, provision, analyze and optimize their networks.

And like our freight train infrastructure, the importance – and complexity – of transport optical networks is only growing as we ask more and more from them— connect to more devices, carry data for more applications, provide ultra-low latency and highly reliable connectivity to support specific use cases, address new markets to expand revenue, and do it all at higher speeds. Emerging technologies such as AI, ML, edge computing, Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities or autonomous vehicles can’t succeed without robust and efficient optical transport.
This is where automation can really make a difference, by helping to create a world in which the optical transport network could save you time and money by managing itself. One in which the network, for example:

  • Can detect events in the network such a line cut, locate them precisely and proactively reroute traffic and notify a repair crew to restore the connection.
  • Has a complete picture of all its network elements, sees where capacity limits are being reached and proactively begins the planning process to add scale.
  • Can take over configuration processes and add new devices or services with little to no human intervention (or human error).
  • Can exchange information programmatically with BSS/OSS systems to significantly reduce the time it takes to deliver new services to customers.

But if you’ve been holding off on getting on board with automation until you can see the benefits are worth the effort, there’s good news: The evidence is in and it’s extremely positive.

Nokia recently worked with the research firm Analysys Mason to quantify the real-world benefits of our optical network automation. A variety of Tier 1 network operators around the globe were interviewed to better understand how they operated their networks before introducing automation, and how that changed after they deployed automation in terms of CAPEX, OPEX and time to market for network management tasks and service delivery.
The results were compelling. Here are some of the high-level findings:

  • Automating network lifecycle management processes led to OPEX savings of up to 56 percent through simpler network operations that made it faster and easier to deploy, configure and manage optical networks.
  • Automating service virtualization reduced OPEX up to 81 percent by reducing the labor required to complete service order fulfilment and service assurance processes.
  • Automating network planning for both planned and deployed networks optimizes network resources and enables legacy network equipment to be retired, which contributes to CAPEX avoidance of up to 30%.

Operators expect automation to provide up to 10 percent uplift in revenue from improved win rates, faster time to market for services, the ability to offer differentiated services through optical network virtualization and the inclusion of network-as-a-service business models.
The network operators interviewed also revealed secondary benefits of adopting network automation:

  • Consolidating IP and optical processes into a single integrated system helped reduce the costs associated with manual processing and software integration between different systems
  • Hardware cost can be reduced through more efficient network designs, helping reduce network CAPEX for some services by up to 30 percent.
  • Integrating new third-party applications into a single planning and optimization platform can reduce the number of applications required to run the network, along with associated costs. One operator achieved a 30 percent CAPEX savings by retiring the middleware software it used for integration and connecting WaveSuite to other operations support systems (OSSs).
  • Automation enabled one operator to offer more stringent network service level agreements (SLAs) and use enhanced monitoring to reduce SLA violations, leading to fewer service outages and lower operational cost.
  • Automation improved average service order fulfilment time from ten days to 24 hours, contributing to 90 percent savings in operational costs. This enabled a Tier-1 North American operator to improve its win rates by a factor of five.

If you’ve been sitting on the fence about starting your optical network automation journey, this report clearly shows the time for debate is over. The automation train is leaving the station for a destination that will bring lower CAPEX and OPEX, faster time to market and higher revenue.

Get on board now and arrive at the land of automation benefits sooner or be forced to compete at a significant disadvantage with those who’ve already invested.

Visit the Nokia website to get the full report and learn how the features and benefits of the Nokia WaveSuite automation platform can help your transport optical network succeed well into the future.


This article was written
by Optical Connections News Team