Industry Specification Group (ISG) Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM) Activity Report 2020

Chair: 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 be faced with increasing complexity, new services and support for more devices. Maximizing the efficiency of end-to-end network operations will require increased automation of functions such as configuration and capacity management that are currently administered with direct human intervention.

In particular, the automation of network and service management has become an urgent necessity to deliver 5G services with speed and agility, while ensuring the economic sustainability of a diverse set of services.

Driven by documented business scenarios, our ISG on Zero Touch network and Service Management (ZSM) is examining requirements for tomorrow’s ‘zero touch’ networks. The group’s ultimate goal is the creation of totally autonomous end-to-end network solutions where all operational processes and tasks including delivery, deployment, self-configuration, monitoring, assurance and optimization can be executed automatically, without manual supervision.

In 2020 the group published two new Group Reports.

The first [GR ZSM 004] is a landscape document, assessing activities in other bodies – including SDOs, open source communities and industry associations – that are relevant to the work of ISG ZSM.

The second [GR ZSM 005] examines existing means or approaches to achieving network automation. It variously explores:

  • Alternatives for classic modelling such as intent vs. imperative vs. declarative modelling
  • Lessons from model driven automation of service and policy orchestration, including closed loop
  • Framework for self-managed VNFs based on cloud-native network functions
  • Delineate service modelling against machine learning inspired closed loop automation modelling
  • Autonomous management

During the year ISG ZSM maintained its regular exchange of information with other ETSI bodies – including ISG ENI, ISG MEC and ISG NFV – as well as external SDOs and fora including GSMA, 3GPP SA5, ITU-T SG15 and ONAP (Open Network Automation Platform).


  • Group Specification (GS) on end-to-end management and orchestration of network slicing - investigating available standards and open source outputs relevant to supporting requirements and zero-touch solutions, covering 100% automation, management and orchestration of end to end network slicing.
  • GS on cross-domain E2E service lifecycle management: investigating the management of end-to-end (E2E) services across management domains (MDs)
  • GS on closed-loop automation enablers, based on ZSM architectural framework: specifies how to automatically deploy and configure closed loops involving both E2E service management and management domains
  • GS on closed-loop automation: solutions for automation of E2E service and network management use cases
  • GS on enablers for Artificial Intelligence-based network and service automation - specifying extensions and new capabilities (’AI enablers’) for the ZSM framework reference architecture, providing support for the automation of management functionalities and operations based on AI
  • Group Report (GR) on closed-loop automation advanced topics, such as learning and cognitive capabilities (e.g. based on different degrees of use and integration of artificial intelligence technologies), ways to set and evaluate levels of oversight, autonomy, and operational confidence on behaviour of closed loops
  • GR on automation of CI/CD (continuous integration / continuous development) for ZSM services and managed services
  • GR on general security aspects of ZSM framework and solutions
  • GR on generic aspects of intent-driven autonomous networks provides guidelines on how to use intent-driven management interfaces between ZSM framework consumers and ZSM management domains (MDs), including the end-to-end service management domain
  • Revision of GR ZSM 004 on ZSM landscape, based on current and future developments; includes information on activities in other bodies including SDOs, open source communities and industry associations