Cisco Crosswork™ SONFlex extends the Self-Organizing Network (SON) automation and optimization capability to its full potential. It enables operators to create customized applications for their individual needs in an agile development cycle, significantly shortening the time to market for new service launches and increasing SON savings. Part of the Crosswork mobility automation umbrella, it is a future-proof solution supporting your end-to-end service automation and optimization needs.
When rolling out 5G, operators will be facing the challenge of deploying millions of smaller cells with significantly increased network complexity. They will need to configure and manage the new radio features to manage the connection and coordination with the underlying 4G layer; to configure the interconnection between the centralized and remote network components; and create (and then continually optimize) the network slices required to support the new services.
Facing the need to innovate their service offering in an ever-accelerating rate, mobile operators seek Self-Organizing Network (SON) automation and optimization solutions that can be customized for their specific needs and be rapidly deployed in an agile manner to improve network performance, assure the service Key Quality Indicators (KQIs), and reduce operational costs.
Many operators are looking to commoditize the Radio Access Network (RAN), via “Open RAN” initiatives, for example, which is making a multi-vendor and multi-technology SON solution a critical enabler to avoid vendor lock-in while managing the complexities of a network mix where there are different RAN vendors, technologies, hardware types, and software versions simultaneously.
Cisco® Crosswork SONFlex extends SON automation and optimization capability to its full potential. It enables operators to create customized applications for their individual needs in an agile development cycle, significantly shortening the time to market to be ready for service launch and to make the most of SON savings.
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex expands Cisco’s market-leading SON platform to operator-led innovation. It provides powerful services and a feature-rich RESTful API that can enable intent-based development of SON applications while managing the complexities of the underlying networks. It reduces the need for SON and radio-vendor expertise, supporting deployment of multiple SON functions simultaneously on the same network with powerful conflict management and coordination between the different applications.
Features and Benefits
Table 1 outlines features and benefits of Cisco Crosswork SONFlex solution.
Table 1. Features and Benefits
Multi-vendor, Multi-technology open platform for SON innovation
Reduce the cost of development, deployment, and maintenance of SON applications, and the cost of introducing new SON solutions successfully into your network. Eliminate the need to understand the complexities of writing a closed-loop application, or the internal aspects of connecting to the RAN of a specific vendor.
Intent-driven vendor-agnostic optimization with Cisco SON’s insights
Enable faster time to market and shorten the time between idea inception and application deployment. Shorten the time to value and increase savings.
Avoid degradation and automatically revert bad actions. Simplify the development of closed-loop SON applications.
Conflict management features enable simultaneous operation of multiple SON applications—both operator and third-party. Increase SON value while avoiding conflicts and network degradation.
Aligned with 5G SON requirements and ONAP architecture
This future-proof SON solution is ideally aligned with 5G SON requirements (see Figure 1) and Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) architecture (see Figure 2).
End-to-end service optimization
Enable operators quick time to market with innovative services while assuring service SLAs across all network domains (RAN, backhaul, core, policy, etc.) while optimizing service slices to assure service SLAs.
Support extreme automation by non-programmers. Free radio engineers to focus on decision-making activities while automating routine tasks.
SON microservices hosting environment
Enjoy instant deployment of SON applications for specific markets or your entire network. The solution offers seamless migration to any hosting environment.
The Cisco Crosswork SONFlex cloud-native virtualized architecture is ideally aligned with 5G SON requirements (see Figure 1).
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex Alignment with 5G SON Requirements
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex architecture is ideally aligned and with industry network automation initiatives such as the ONAP open source project (see Figure 2). The ONAP focus is on lifecycle management of Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs), and the RAN focus is on 5G. Cisco Crosswork SON enables utilizing ONAP architecture today across all domains and all RAN technologies (3G, 4G, and 5G). ONAP can dynamically instantiate a new RAN VNF while SON would automatically integrate the new VNF and optimize it at the radio network level.
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex and ONAP Architecture
Main SONFlex APIs and Services
Main SONFlex APIs and services include:
1. Network visibility - allows for the retrieval of information related to RAN network elements, configuration, topology, and performance. This includes configuration management parameters and performance management counters, and standard KPIs related to eNBs, cells, and relations.
2. SON Insights - provides visibility into network topology information applicable to SON, such as meaningful neighbors (based on handover statistics), cells with coverage intersection, TA information, “face” information (cells covering the same sector), cell down indication, etc.
3. Command service - allows the operator to send action sets to be executed by the Cisco SON platform. The API allows the operator to use either vendor-specific names or the Cisco SONFlex harmonized names, such that the application can be developed in a vendor- or release-agnostic manner.
4. Conflict Resolution service - exposes the capabilities of Cisco SON’s arbiter to arbitrate conflicts between SON applications developed by Verizon or third parties and the applications developed by Cisco, running either on ONAP or on the Cisco SON platform. The operator can configure the desired arbitration policy to be managed in runtime by the Cisco platform.
5. Feedback service - allows the application to optionally use the Crosswork SONFlex feedback services to avoid degradation and automatically revert bad actions (see Figure 3).
6. SON Activity/OSS changes - provides information related to SON action sets (groups of logically related OSS changes which are managed by the platform as a transaction) and their details, including the SON module that triggered it, the trigger reason, the action ID and the time it appeared, OSS changes (including attributes name, old and new values, and cell information).
7. Application Policy Management API - allows management of the application settings organized as profiles associated per SON application to each cell. This API allows operators to automatically and dynamically optimize SON settings governing the behavior of SON apps as a function of the changing traffic patterns, network conditions, operator policies, and golden standards (see Figure 4).
8. Kafka/ONAP bus publishers - can be used to publish updates on configuration management changes, and other SON alerts/events/notifications. The information is published to Kafka or ONAP DCAE (bus performance management information).
9. GUI services - Applications using the SONFlex APIs are seamlessly integrated into the Cisco Crosswork SONFlex GUI, supporting the management of module activation (i.e. in a polygon or in a group); configuration of per-market application settings and per-cell SON application profiles; seeing all SON activities, including an action layer on the map; as well as management of app notices and logs.
10. Easy onboarding of new data sources - The SONFlex Dynamic performance management feature can enable operators to dynamically onboard (without a software change by Cisco) new performance management counters and KPIs that are not collected, by default, by the Cisco platform. Similarly, the SONFlex dynamic configuration management feature enables onboarding configuration management components that are not used by default by the SON platform. This enhances the agility of the operator to develop required SON applications without dependency upon Cisco’s SON release cycle.
Cisco Crosswork SON Feedback Service
Application Policy Management API
Take automation to the Next Level with SONFlex Studio
The SONFlex Studio is a GUI tool that helps non-programmers create light-weight SON automation and optimization solutions using SONFlex APIs. The SONFlex Studio increases the value and productivity of operators and radio engineers, allowing them to focus on decision-making instead of routine tasks. It supports zero time to market to address market needs, tailored to market challenges and operational practices (even in cases where there is no business justification, or when there is no capacity to develop a SON application by a development team). The Cisco SONFlex hosting environment allows instant local deployment of the solution in a specific market (or group of cells in the market) while orchestrated with the other apps by the SONFlex Conflict Management service. This enables users to drive innovation from the ground up, as market apps can be shared with other markets.
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex Application Hosting
Cisco Crosswork SONFlex provides an optional hosting environment for scalable and robust deployment and hosting of SON apps (running the apps on the Crosswork SON platform, similar to the Cisco apps). This Kubernetes-based microservice-hosting environment supports instant onboarding of SON applications. This environment can be used in conjunction with other hosting environments (for example, ONAP) for quick deployment of an algorithm prototype or business-case analysis (without the overhead associated with onboarding it elsewhere) or for a market-specific app. The SON microservices onboarded to Cisco’s app hosting environment can be easily migrated to another ONAP environment without having to change the way the SONFlex APIs are used.
The Cisco Crosswork SONFlex platform and APIs have been designed based on Cisco’s field-proven experience in delivering scalable, multi-vendor, multi-technology SON solutions for all technologies and deployment modes. SONFlex has been hardened over years of use for internal Cisco SON development, and since its launch last year, it has been field-proven with Tier 1 accounts in North America and Europe. It is currently the only solution in the industry that has been field-proven to scale up for more cells and more applications with powerful SON insights, orchestration, conflict management, and feedback.
As part of the Cisco Crosswork mobility umbrella, Cisco Crosswork SONFlex 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.
Flexible payment solutions to help you achieve your objectives
Cisco Capital makes it easier to get the right technology to achieve your objectives, enable business transformation and help you stay competitive. We can help you reduce the total cost of ownership, conserve capital, and accelerate growth. In more than 100 countries, our flexible payment solutions can help you acquire hardware, software, services and complementary third-party equipment in easy, predictable payments. Learn more.
Get Started Today
Monetize and optimize your networks in the face of ever-increasing demands. For more information about Cisco Crosswork SONFlex, contact your local account representative.