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PIPELINE RESOURCES

The Physical Reality of the Virtual World


Similarly, the limits of absolute capacity must also be understood, so that the boundaries of resource performance can be defined. For volatile services, this is particularly important, because while capacity may be changed with virtual assets and in real-time, there are still physical constraints to consider.

Each of these services has different performance characteristics and requirements, which may vary on a per-session, per-application, or per-user basis. All of this has been made possible by the fully virtual core architecture. And therein lies the rub.

The virtual—physical paradox

While we might describe resources as virtual, there are still physical elements to consider. A fiber can be used for connecting a property to a distribution point. A Radio Access Network (RAN) or a small cell is used to connect to devices in the vicinity, or to deliver FWA connections to a building. A cable might terminate in a rack to deliver Ethernet services.

Even if the elements that compose, manage and execute the service are virtual, there is always a physical dimension. Too often, this is forgotten.

What does this mean in practice?

The correlation of physical assets with virtual and logical resources is fundamental to the smooth delivery of all communications services. Why? The nature and location of these assets need to be clearly understood and mapped, so that they can be identified and allocated to a specific logical or virtual resource. Operators must understand all dimensions of their physical, virtual, logical and service inventory in order to allocate and manage them effectively and to correlate and coordinate their service inventory.

Similarly, the limits of absolute capacity must also be understood, so that the boundaries of resource performance can be defined. For volatile services, this is particularly important, because while capacity may be changed with virtual assets and in real-time, there are still physical constraints to consider.

In this context, we need to explore different domains and also consider the difference between passive and active components.

Inside and outside plant

Inside plant (ISP) relates to physical inventory deployed in a facility. These are active components and include assets such as central office equipment, DSLAMs, main distribution frames, power supplies, and optical equipment.

Outside plant (OSP) spans solutions such as underground ducts and conduits, repeaters, poles, manholes, cables, and cell towers. These are typically passive components, and understanding their location is essential for the service delivery and activation chain.

Potential problems

Imagine that a service is delivered across optical fiber to a customer’s premises. If an alarm is generated, testing through OTDR (optical time-domain reflectometer) can provide an estimate of the distance to the break. Only clear understanding, however, of the physical location and the connectivity involved can pinpoint the problem.

This knowledge matters because many disruptions happen in the field with OSP. Operators must have clear understanding of not only the virtual resources required for a service but also the physical and logical assets that underpin them. Correlating this information and mapping it to the location of assets is crucial, as doing so can accelerate problem identification and resolution. 

Similarly, if an operator wants to deploy a new service to a customer, knowing which assets are involved and where they are allows the provider to understand how the service can be delivered—and whether there are sufficient physical assets to deliver the virtual service offered.



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