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The Cable Story, Part 4: Automating the Network

- June 13, 2018 - 0 Comments

This is the last of my “Cable Story” blog series, and what better way to finish it other than discussing automation? Why, because it stands to be the most important thing that service providers can do today to streamline their businesses.

The principles in implementing automation are similar across the service provider ecosystem, but cable, perhaps not surprisingly, has its own twist.

The methodology of automation tends to happen in three stages: 1, Mass Awareness, where data is collected from the cable network in a standardized format. 2, Augmented Intelligence, meaning analytics that discover actionable insights through machine learning tools. 3, Proactive Control, to act on what’s known from the network, in an organized manner.

The primary automation use cases in the cable providers community involve Orchestration, Telemetry and Optimization.

Orchestration is about the installation and upgrading of the cable access network. The key here is to do it efficiently, with no need for custom CLI scripts. This means going from installation, to operations and to supplying services to customers more quickly. The automated processes help eliminate configuration errors and improve reliability.

A good example for Orchestration is the processes around installing a new intelligent Remote PHY node in the access network. Essentially, a technician mounts the Remote PHY node in the neighborhood, powers it, and physically connects it to the subscribers. This is basically all of the manual parts of the process; the rest is handled by Automation. The Remote PHY node registers itself, the IP core network is calibrated, auto-scaling is performed in the CMTS, the connection is made, and the configuration is downloaded to the Remote PHY node. At the end of this process, the Remote PHY is installed in no time, with no errors, and the cable provider gain more insight into their network operations.

With streaming telemetry, operators gain access to massive amounts of network data that can be used for detecting, managing, maintaining and remediating faults. This is exactly what happens when carrier frequency spectrum interferences are detected, such that configuration is optimized. The result: Efficient and reliable data services. A massively aware network with proactive control saves on truck rolls and allows cable providers to simplify and harmonize data collection, which, in turn, provide better information for operational decisions.

Optimization is about analyzing the network to identify inefficiencies or abnormalities, then dynamically readjusting the network. This plays an important role in reducing network downtime and responding faster to security threats. As you may have guessed, Cisco is providing the full scope of Automation layers for cable providers, whether they are using purpose-built CCAPs or cloud-native solutions.

This concludes my four-part series on “the cable story,” and where things stand in the late spring of 2018. I hope you enjoyed it! Please feel free to contact me directly for additional information.

Read more on the ‘cable story’ in its previous posts:

And on Cisco’s cable access solutions

 

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