The Cisco Crosswork™ SON a multi-technology, multi-vendor solution for RAN and other mobile network domains. This new end-to-end automation solution delivers the ability to reduce operating costs (CapEx and OpEx) while improving user experience.
To keep pace with today’s constantly changing technology and required upgrades, Mobile Network Operators (MNO) are turning to a Self-Organized Network (SON) approach. The Cisco® Crosswork SON—a virtualized software solution with a set of applications that automate the engineering-intensive task of optimizing the Radio Access Network (RAN)—configures new cells and coordinates between the differently deployed technologies and vendors. It helps you dramatically boost performance, harmonize the multiple technologies that comprise the RAN, and get more out of your existing infrastructure. When it’s time to add new sites, Cisco SON makes it plug-and-play easy. SON applications share a common platform, making our SON the world’s leading multi-technology and multi-vendor SON solution. It gives you real-time RF visibility across the entire RAN, using Operations Support System (OSS) data to automatically manage and synchronize the network elements from a central location.
Operators face new demands and rising complexity
As a mobile operator, you’re experiencing escalating demands and fierce competition. Mobile data consumption is surging. Usage patterns are becoming more erratic. It only takes a handful of subscribers using bandwidth-hungry services to push cells to congestion. As you scramble to boost capacity and deliver a superior subscriber experience, you need to be able to quickly roll out new sites and utilize more technologies. This adds complexity to your network. Today’s networks are becoming mixed environments with everything from Het-Net of Macro-cells, and small-cells, to new RAN architecture of disaggregated RAN (vRAN, CRAN) along with the current technologies of GSM, UMTS, LTE, and 5G.
Manual network optimization that runs in cycles of days and weeks cannot keep pace with rapid changes and increasing complexity. The result of a sluggish response to demand is degraded quality of service, unhappy customers, and revenue losses. To stay competitive, you need a way to automatically manage your complex network from a single point — without extra equipment and with a way to monitor and improve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), improve your users’ Key Quality Indicators (KQIs), and control the new service performance and SLAs in an end-to-end manner.
With the transition to 5G, the network will become even more complex and more dynamic, due to:
● Significant increases in the number of cells
● More complex radio technology in use
● Support of multiple different categories of services (e.g. slicing)
● Higher rates of state transitions, which requires higher sampling rates for measurements
● Adding new categories of measurements (e.g., in 3GPP) delivered by streaming
● User awareness and higher time resolutions for NRT and RT optimization
All these aspects significantly increase the amount of network measurements data collected and processed by Cisco Crosswork SON. In this situation, involvement of modern Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies like machine learning and deep learning becomes mandatory to discover the patterns of the network behavior and to associate them with certain events and configuration aspects.
Network operators clearly request end-to-end service assurance and a means to control it in the 5G networks. Implementation of this requires support of Multi-Domain Service Optimization (MDSO).
Aside from the classic RAN SON inputs, such as network element KPIs and performance measurements, MDSO is using Quality of Experience (QoE) indicators, and Key Quality Indicators (KQI) as an additional input. One example of an end-to-end service specific quality metric is video quality indicators.
MDSO is connected to multiple network domains, in addition to the RAN SON, for performance data collection and configuration commands to achieve the optimization targets. MDSO is set to monitor and optimize different Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) for different services such as IoT, video, and voice in automated, closed-loop manner.
The MDSO allows end-to-end visibility of the mobile infrastructure and the quality of the content delivery. MDSO allows content providers to optimize and automate the mobile network in order to meet the content customers’ SLAs.
Significant gains can be achieved by use of deep learning algorithms to identify and predict faults and performance degradation, then isolate and remedy them. Machine Learning / Deep Learning (ML/DL) algorithms proved to be helpful in processing big data sources that accumulate the network performance metrics sampled at high frequency, and with breakdown to individual services (flows) rather than aggregated per RAN cell.
Figure 1 shows the general network architecture of the MDSO in the 5G network.
Figure 1. MDSO in a 5G network architecture
Harmonizing performance across technologies
MDSO interacts with the following domains: NG-RAN, MBH, 5GC, IP services, NFV, and transport. Figure 1 shows an example of the video data flow crossing all network domains. Every domain may contain local controllers and optimizers. The MDSO controller collects performance indicators from all domains and aggregates them into end-to-end Quality-of-Service (QoS) indicators with granularity of the sub-network or network slice or even individual user experiences (QoS flows). Analysis of the end-to-end QoS indicators may trigger the MDSO controller to certain actions performed on network functions in one or several domains.
Cisco SON is a fully automatic, closed-loop solution. It consists of a family of products that work together in harmony to self-configure, self-optimize, and self-heal the network.
Key applications include:
● Automatic Neighbor Relations (ANR), which identifies neighbor list problems as they occur and fixes them automatically, before subscribers are affected, or with minimal impact.
● Automatic Parameter Optimization (APO), which identifies new cells as they are introduced. It dramatically reduces the time from turning on to full functionality, including re-setting parameters in neighboring cells.
● Dynamic Load Balancing (DLB), which provides a near-real-time response to rapidly changing and unpredictable load demands on the network by modifying various parameters of the loaded and surrounding cells.
Control costs as you boost agility and performance
The Cisco Crosswork SON replaces complexity with simplicity. It transforms your network into an elastic, intelligent infrastructure that empowers you to run your RAN automatically, dynamically, and in real time. With a single connection to the core and one to the OSS, the Cisco Crosswork SON can help you:
● Reduce drop call rates by up to 30 percent
● Increase data capacity by up to 20 percent
● Add new sites in hours without disrupting normal operations
● Reduce operating and capital expenditures by saving on engineering and power resources
● Postpone network expansion by better utilizing spectrum and equipment
● Launch new services such as narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) and fast deployment of new 5G cells
● Broaden your choice of vendors to help drive down costs
Figure 2. SON platform
Cisco is the market leader in SON
Cisco understands the role of Crosswork SON with the increase of network complexity along with the requirement to reduce cost per bit.
Cisco Crosswork SON for mobile provides:
● 5G readiness – The Cisco Crosswork SON platform is a fully virtualized, microservice based platform, with end-to-end viability and control over the mobile network.
● SONFlex open APIs – The Cisco Crosswork SONFlex open APIs enable third-party and operator developers to develop SON applications while having Cisco platform services available.
● Multi-vendor, multi-technology, multi-spectrum, multi-architectures – Cisco Crosswork SON simplifies network densification. As a single point for any network RAN vendors, technologies, and spectrum mixes, the Crosswork SON platform automates them as if they were within a single, unified network.
● Reduce CapEx and OpEx – In rapid network adjustments, Cisco Crosswork SON can reduce time to market of new automation applications, and speed the deployment of new services, such as 5G or IoT. Cisco Crosswork SON allows operators to deliver high levels of customer experience.
● Machine learning engine – The Crosswork SON machine-learning engine enables Cisco Crosswork SON to become a proactive solution that can predict network performance and quality of experience degradation before it happens. It can identify root causes and recommend optimal actions to take.
● End-to-end automation – As part of the Cisco Crosswork mobility umbrella, Crosswork SON is a future-proof solution for 5G optimization, supporting integration into multiple network domains such as the transport and backhaul, the core, and policy domains, enabling end-to-end service optimization solutions.
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