Cooking Up A Better Customer Experience In The SDNFV Lab

The customer experience in any SDN/NFV environment is like a fine dining experience. Each customer is seated at the table with a dizzying array of menu choices similar to the wide and growing number of options they have for virtual network functions (VNFs).

It then makes sense that effective SDN/NFV operations require service assurance (the table cloth) and fulfillment (the plates and silverware) to go hand-in-hand as part of the dining experience. There is no question that the availability and utility of these components contributes heavily to the overall customer experience. The case for cohesion and harmony between service assurance and fulfillment for service provider operations was laid out some years ago in this excellent article that noted:

Service fulfillment and service assurance are critical to both the smooth and efficient operations of a service provider’s business. Service fulfillment systems support the processes that ensure service providers offer the services customers have requested in a timely and correct manner. Service assurance systems are responsible for the execution of all the activities needed to ensure the availability and performance of services provided to the customer.

We noted something similar in our recent public support of our service assurance partner CENX when yours truly was quoted as saying:

Efficient and highly scalable network management and orchestration require the delivery of both service fulfillment and service performance monitoring. We are demonstrating the real-world viability of this end-to-end solution inside the SDNFV innovation lab with our collaboration with CENX, which has the potential to accelerate SDN and NFV interest among service providers and enterprises, globally.

The key business rationale behind’s work with CENX is to tightly couple service fulfillment and assurance to enhance the customer experience.  Indeed, JD Power & Associates, who knows a thing or two about tracking customer sat scores & ratings, specifically pointed out the need for this fulfillment/assurance synergy in improving the overall customer (mobile/SP subscriber) experience in today’s uber-competitive telco market:

Keeping up with increasing subscriber expectations is not the exclusive domain of service assurance. Service fulfillment plays a critical role as well in ensuring a “first-time-right” customer experience.

Getting it right the first time is even more essential when dealing with new technology paradigms such as SDN and NFV. The and CENX collaboration will give service providers and enterprises the ability to set the table for their customers and deliver the best customer experience.  The work includes all service provider and enterprise use cases (the menu), which includes fixed and mobile access, GiLan Services, Mobile Edge Computing, and more. One of the most compelling might be the multi-billion dollar virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) refresh that many service providers have rated as their top NFV priority to satisfy the VPNaaS/SDWAN use case.

Architecturally, here’s how the RIFT.ware platform pairs up with the CENX service assurance solution.

Specifically, CENX brings to the table functionality such as real-time monitoring, SLA management, and capacity planning for both physical and virtual services and applications. complements that with fulfillment aspects such as onboarding, instantiation, and elastic scaling of NFV and SDN services and applications.

The solution aligns perfectly with next-gen OSS/BSS architectures that industry experts have been touting as a fundamental requirement for service providers in order to truly take advantage of NFV. Note the similarity in architectures between the diagram and the one offered up by Analysys Mason. Analysys Mason noted that SPs are favoring a “service-oriented (vs. platform-oriented) strategy for NFV,” which places even greater importance on both service fulfillment and assurance:

We couldn’t agree more, which is why the solution has been receiving such favorable responses. Of course, we’re looking forward to rolling the solution out in production environments as soon as possible as we secure our share of customer wins. Meanwhile, we’ll have our lab coats donned tightly as we cook up even more SP and enterprise use cases for this and other solutions in the SDNFV Lab that we hope to unveil in the coming months.

Stay tuned.