A comprehensive network inventory documentation tool is essential for a service provider’s operations. It helps efficiently manage the network and the services it delivers to subscribers. Such a tool is part of the service provider’s OSS (Operations Support Systems) landscape. FNT’s network inventory management software fits perfectly in the OSS picture by documenting, tracking and managing the lifecycle of all network assets.
What is a network inventory system?
A network inventory keeps track of all assets in the telecom network, making it possible to know at any given time which resources you have, which are planned, their status, and all relevant details. And since documentation is not static, keeping it up to date is critical for it to provide the intended value. The importance of gathering and maintaining this information cannot be overstated, because using outdated and inaccurate data for planning and fault resolution can have disastrous consequences on the functioning of the network.
An accurate and optimized network inventory makes it possible for a network operator to efficiently provide high-quality and resilient services to customers at lower operational costs. Network inventory solutions work by collecting and managing data about the network and infrastructure. The assets that make up the network and managed by the inventory system are:
- Active assets – Examples include routers, switches and multiplexers. They’re called active devices because they are powered and usually have interfaces (APIs) that allow up-to-date information to be collected from them.
- Passive assets – Examples include cables, junction / splice boxes and racks. They’re called passive devices because they don’t have active electronics so there is no way of harvesting stored information from them.
- Logical / virtual overlays - Examples include logical circuits, virtual private networks (VPNs), virtual network functions (VNFs), etc. These logical entities may exist within one domain (e.g., a logical circuit in a transmission network) or could cross many different network domains (e.g., an SD-WAN that includes access networks from different service providers around the world).
Why do I need a network inventory system?
A network inventory system is vital for keeping the network healthy and functioning. It is almost impossible to adequately manage today’s advanced, dynamic, virtualized networks without a comprehensive and near-real-time view of network assets and resources. A network inventory system provides this view to support general network operation levels, uptime quotient, and capacity planning.
A dynamic network inventory supplies network operators with up-to-date awareness of their network, assets, surroundings and available routing / connectivity in near-real-time. This information is vital input to many different types of workflows and solving different types of problems. Almost all business-as-usual workflows service providers and network operators perform have some sort of dependency on their network inventory solution.
Network inventory is a prerequisite for network management and supports or facilitates the most essential use cases:
- Asset Information / Management: captures and stores up-to-date information about the network and all its components to enable insights and actions to be performed
- Fulfillment: enables customers to be connected to the network, including network resource allocation for customer use
- Assurance: identifies network bottlenecks, customer impacts and their root-causes, routes data traffic around the problem and manages repair activities
- Planning: informs about the current capacity and status of the network and helps assess the outcome of alternative configurations / changes
- Digital Twin: provides a representation of all current assets and connectivity as well as up-to-date performance / health status of each asset in the network
Today’s networks are continually evolving to accommodate new digital requirements. Frequent changes to the network include adding new assets, decommissioning old ones, changing configurations, and rerouting circuits. This constant fluctuation of asset status and use within the network makes losing track of the documentation state a real risk. A network inventory tool mitigates this risk and makes it easier to maintain a functioning network.
What are the most important features?
Unified resource management – Today’s complex networks use assets and resources from the active telecommunication transport network, passive inside- and outside plant infrastructure, as well as IT and data center infrastructure environments. All are instrumental in delivering telecommunication services and should be managed holistically in a single database. This approach makes it possible to view network data, relationships and dependencies across all technologies and domains, which greatly simplifies keeping track of the network’s diverse resources.
Integration – For a network inventory solution to do its job, it must always reflect the real network. Exchanging data with other systems is therefore a must. A network inventory tool should have an extensive integration layer that reconciles data from third-party systems and exposes information to any application that needs it. APIs, ETL technologies, and prepackaged interfaces facilitate collecting, reconciling and using data from various sources.
Visualization – Being able to view network infrastructure and service data graphically makes it possible to recognize patterns within the data and gain a better understanding of dependencies. Such easier extraction of insights from the data drives better decisions, faster response times, and improved overall efficiency.
Advantages of our solution for Network Inventory
Highlights of the Network Inventory Solution
Our software focuses on the key physical, logical and virtual resources of the network and their relations to the services and consumers, covers all relevant assets such as sites, devices, topologies and numbering pools and provides the information needed to answer important questions such as which resources are available?How are they related? How do they contribute to the delivery of critical services? Who are the consumers of those services?
Most service providers have heterogenous networks that are based on multiple network technologies and domains. Some technologies are oriented on maximum throughput and some on flexibility and QoS (Quality of Service) features. Some network technologies are being phased out and replaced with modern ones. FNT solutions for telecom network inventory management provide transparency on the complete network regardless of the technology, manufacturer or operational phase. FNT houses all this information in one comprehensive data model, which is enriched from multiple data sources and shared with other applications using extensive out-of-the-box integration capabilities. The result is a single source of truth for holistic telecom network management.
Location Management Powered by GIS
Document all data centers, PoPs (Point of Presence) and customer sites. Visualize campus, inside- and outside plant infrastructures on a map in 2D/3D.
Hybrid Resource Management
Consolidated visibility and coordination of the physical, logical and virtual resources thanks to field-proven integrated data model. Document any network technology and layer along with their dependencies. Support planning activities by showing the available resources, current utilization levels and remaining capacity of those resources. Integrate with NMS (Network Management System) and controllers to synchronize As-Is network state.
Unique ready-to-use FNT component library, which is constantly being extended. Identification of and management of the entire asset’s lifecycle within the network. Since these assets constitute one of an operator’s biggest capital investments and income generators, sound financial management of them is crucial.
Service Fulfilment Support
Single source of truth for serviceability and availability checks. Allocation of resources to customers to fulfill orders placed. Linkage of all reserved resources together into single service hierarchy. Exposing allocated service and resource topology to orchestration and provisioning tools.
Enabler for Service Assurance
Provisioning of device and topology configurations to fault management and monitoring systems. Enrichment of alarm information with affected location, topology and customer reports.
Openness and Flexibility
Highly configurable and extendable data model. Extensive integration framework which includes generative open APIs, ETL, Reconciliation and Notification functions.
Would you like to know more about Network Inventory Management? Then you might be interested in the following:
How to transform network asset and resource management
Given the strategic importance of network inventory, it gets surprisingly little attention. How service providers manage their network assets and resources matters, as
this will influence the performance of the entire network. This white paper explores in detail what a modern inventory solution looks like and the tangible business benefits delivered from using one.