With more service providers using automated network tests to control centrallylocated distributed nodes for hyperscale data centers, vendors of test and assurance solutions increasingly look for ways to remove costly humans -- along with their propensity for errors, procrastination and paychecks -- from the equation.
Eliminating people from more testing processes also allows these professionals to advance into more interesting and business-critical roles. While testing is vital to a network's peak functioning, the process itself rarely is viewed as glamorous by individuals tasked with performing repetitive tests, patches and updates.
"CSPs will ultimately face one stark reality: Automate or die," wrote Heavy Reading analysts including Steven Bell, senior analyst of Internet of Things, and James Crawshaw, senior analyst for CSP IT and automation, in "Telecom Automation: Heavy Reading Perspectives," released in October 2017. "Rather than focus on virtualization and automation as solely a cost and efficiency strategy, operators need to understand that automated networks are an essential requirement to service the growing automation of industrial, enterprise, healthcare and government customers."
In part, this requires the entire network must operate as a "closed-loop control system," the report continued. Zero-touch networks require great sophistication, dependent in part on machine learning, Heavy Reading said.
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This means the whole ecosystem of network infrastructure providers must deliver automated systems -- something that has not escaped the notice of test vendors that continue to develop offerings less and less reliant on human intervention.
At OFC earlier this week, for example, VIAVI Solutions demonstrated its MAP 2100 for hyperscale data centers typically used by service providers, cloud providers and others offering managed services. The rack-mounted bit error rate tester lets users remotely check the transmission quality of the links connecting data centers, central offices or head ends, according to VIAVI Solutions. Designed for centers with few if any personnel, the VIAVI MAP 2100 is controlled from a central location to test physical and virtual test points across a network, Guylain Barlow, senior product line manager at VIAVI Solutions, told Broadband World News.
"In general, service providers tend to be more prepared for testing because of their industry’s strong legacy of high reliability -- especially compared to companies born of the Internet," Barlow added. "Demand and customer bandwidth increments are both growing, so there is a greater need to test at 100Gbit/s as well as lower speeds. Platforms tailored to hyperscale data centers, such as the VIAVI MAP-2100, meet this requirement as well as the need of field technicians to test against other data centers or the central office. The MAP-2100 means they don’t need a human at the other end, which makes testing quick and easy with lower costs."
For its part, Telebyte -- which now focuses its new development efforts on physical layer testing for VDSL Profile 35B and Gfast devices -- offers a fully automated and integrated Gfast test solution, Victoria Twomey, director of sales and marketing, told BBWN.
The University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Lab (UNH-IOL) uses Telebyte's equipment for the Broadband Forum's Gfast certification testing. UNH-IOL also made the Gfast test automation software commercially available; it controls Telebyte's test and measurement equipment so vendors can pre-test in their own labs and service providers can regression-test vendors' updates. (See ADTRAN 10G-EPON Virtual R-OLTs Bridge Old & New Worlds.)
Deutsche Telekom just signed an infrastructure project with the Gigabit Region Stuttgart, home to 174 municipalities and almost 3 million people, one of many partnerships the German operator has inked in its bid to grow revenue and business.
Mobile and cable operators represented half the managed SD-WAN services market share in this fast-growing space, while other broadband providers such as ISPs and satellite operators also appeared on Vertical Systems Group's ranking.
By slashing subscriber pricing by more than $30 billion annually, Low Earth Orbit satellite companies led by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk as well as OneWeb have the potential to usher in a whole new era of broadband.
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