Service Management for Industry 4.0

There is a resurgence in the use of Service Quality Management (SQM) as  Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0 services roll out. We should expect the current functionality of an SQM system to be extended to cover the high speed and scale demands of this digital service environment.

Both IoT and Industry 4.0, are causing  a tremendous impact on service transformation. The new technologies will ensure that manufacturing, cars, homes, cities and devices become more connected, efficient and reliable, and new  SLAs will be written to offer guaranteed QoS. The verticals that offer IoT services will need far higher support to maintain high reliability mission-critical connections between the IoT devices. SQM can help the CSPs in addressing the challenges of a new IoT service environment. The following key changes in the network are shaping the re-definition of SQM in order to make it suitable for the IoT and Industry 4.0 environment:

SQM in a virtualized environment: The rising importance of SQM for virtualized networks is attributed to:

The higher agility in creation, delivery, alteration and retiring of services. This inevitably means that managing and maintaining QoS has to be equally responsive and agile. The iterative deployment and tearing down of services expects the Service Quality Management systems to monitor short-life services, lasting from a few days to a few hours, driven by events, location, customer context, etc.

Dynamic network resources.

The dynamic adjustments to network elements, e.g. capacity scale-up and scale-down, topology re-configuration and traffic route optimization, have an immediate impact on the offered services. SQM needs to respond and align to these network changes

  • Hybridity of networks. In the hybrid – physical and virtualized – networks, digital services will be delivered over both parts. An SQM needs to extend across all network types for an unbiased vendor-independent reporting
  • IoT, Industry 4.0 and SQM: With IoT introduced to communication networks, service providers have the options of becoming IoT service providers, managed IoT service providers or simply bearers of the IoT traffic. In each case,  the quality criteria of the IoT services can be much higher compared to the traditional communication services. In addition, because of the wide variety of users (energy, health, robotics, manufacturing, automotive, etc.), the Service Quality Management requires new dimensions to address specificities of each of the verticals. SQM will, hence, re-define  as follows:
  • Assigning high importance to service reliability and service availability as key service KPIs
  • Ensuring proactive maintenance in a high scale operational environment
  • Faster service impact analysis to prevent network bottlenecks
  • A mechanism (through automation) for fast reaction to potential service failures
  • Prediction (through analytics) of service usage and geographic distribution by consumers and devices, in order to support creation of new Industry 4.0 services

Role of automation and analytics

Service Quality Management needs to be more proactive, predictive and capable of offering rapid root cause analysis (RCA). Although RCA was ensured in traditional SQM when service degradation happened and, in many cases, a service impact or what-if analysis was offered with it, more needs to be done now. Analytics added to SQM information provides more accurate failure prediction and a deeper assessment of service impact.
Additionally, automation across the SQM outputs helps in managing configurations. Also, by automating root cause analysis the parent alarm can be quickly identified. Using service modeling and auto-discovery, the relationship with underlying network elements can be quickly ascertained and eliminated, reducing MTTR.
However, an integrated approach of analytics, automation and SQM requires changes in the way service data is visualized and actioned in the Operations Center today. Hosting of OSS functionalities (analytics, automation and SQM) in the cloud can  accelerate the integration of the required functionalities of the Operations Center.

Underlying technologies

The architectures of these next generation SQM is based on REST APIs, Big Data cluster and OpenStack capabilities. Other than this, it is important to develop a micro-services architecture, which uses DevOps-enabled iterative processes to quickly respond to customer service needs by developing services faster. This is how the customer expectation of using new personalized/contextualized services every week or every few days will be realized. The new SQM system should also integrate well with the  Orchestration ecosystem to offer closed-loop assurance; this involves integrated dynamic inventory, service catalogue-driven modeling and policy-driven service orchestration.

In Summary, for successful long-term assurance of IoT and Industry 4.0 services, a re-defined Service Quality Management system; dynamic, predictive and capable of offering rapid RCA, will assure the expected service revenue.


Note: This is an edited version of the original MYCOM OSI article, first published under the title ‘Service management for the Telco Cloud’ in Vanilla Plus.