Activity report 2018-2019

Industry Specification Group (ISG) Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM)

Chairman: Klaus Martiny, Deutsche Telekom

Examining use cases and requirements for zero-touch network and service management, enabling agile service delivery and new business opportunities.

Tomorrow’s 5G operators will face the challenges of dealing with increasing complexity, new services and support for a far greater number of devices. Maximizing the efficiency of end-to-end network operations will require increased automation of functions from configuration and capacity management to fault management that are currently administered with direct human intervention.

Driven by documented business scenarios, our ISG on Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM) is examining requirements for tomorrow’s ‘zero touch’ networks with the ultimate goal of achieving 100% automation of all operational processes and tasks, from delivery and deployment to configuration, assurance and optimization. 30 companies attended the group’s kick-off meeting in January 2018, with membership growing to 65 participants during the year.

The group’s major achievement in 2018 has been the development of a modular, service-based ZSM architectural framework that will enable a zero-touch automated network and service management in a multi-vendor environment. By decoupling network management domains from end-to-end cross-domain service management, this approach prevents monolithic systems and reduces complexity; it also allows domain and end-to-end management to evolve independently.

The architecture supports open interfaces as well as model-driven service and resource abstraction. It also allows operational data to be kept separate from management applications, enabling efficient access to data and cross-domain data exposure which can be leveraged by capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data-driven machine learning. Furthermore, it is designed to enable closed-loop automation at network and service-management levels, where automated decision-making mechanisms can be bounded by rules and policies.

Our ZSM architecture was presented at a number of influential industry events during the year, receiving very positive feedback.

In parallel we developed a Proof of Concept, demonstrating how our ZSM framework can be used to correlate events and auto-scale and assure service continuity by performing an autonomic closed-loop to automate end-to-end Service Level Assurance (SLA) management. Results will be channelled to our specification work.  

Work advanced on end-to-end network slicing management and orchestration, as well as on a ZSM landscape report that surveys activities in other organizations.

We also progressed work on the means for automation: this describes mechanisms aimed at achieving automation and zero-touch network management while analyzing their implications on the design and specification of the ZSM framework architecture and their utilization as a basis for future ZSM compliant solutions. We have developed an initial review of areas with the highest impact for automation, highlighting the vital role of several key means, such as intent-based modelling and orchestration, network governance and network coordination. This report will focus on introducing additional means for automation to complete coverage of the automation areas, and on analyzing how different means for automation can be leveraged by our work.

Look out for in 2019 – ISG ZSM work in progress:

  • Group Report (GR) on ZSM Proof of Concept (PoC) framework
  • GR on means of automation
  • Group Specification (GS) on ZSM reference architecture
  • GS on requirements based on documented scenarios
  • GS on end-to-end management and orchestration of network slicing
  • GS on ZSM terminology
  • GS on inter-management domain lifecycle management