5g core and automation 15447810c0e9ea31dc38fa16a541050d127c8f

Why automation saves costs and enables powerful signals

Over the past decades, Ericsson has turned into a true software company. We’ve changed from large software releases with 6- to 12-month deployment cycles to more frequent small software deliveries per month.

We can only achieve this through automation and Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). For me, it’s only natural to seek automation and get rid of repetitive tasks to make sure we can focus on what’s important. Automation is everywhere, it starts in the morning with the dishwasher, and continues with automated software upgrades for our cell phones or whatever device we use, for example, our smart TV. Even my working environment is just updating while I’m writing this blog, running smoothly in the background.

What prevents our customers from offering monthly software upgrades?

Naturally, CSPs on the one hand strive to create a strong network to ensure customer retention and at the same time demand innovative technology. It becomes clear that every live network change needs to be tested and verified beforehand to ensure that the end user does not experience any service interruptions. From our experience with DSC deployments, we know that this acceptance testing phase can take 3-4 weeks. Our DSC is only one part of a small program of a complete 4G solution.

Imagine the effort, cost, and lead time needed for our customers to perform monthly software upgrades for a medium to large network with hundreds of nodes. It is absolutely impossible with manual software upgrade and acceptance testing approach. For this reason, we introduced Auto Acceptance Test (AAT) for vDSC already in 2018. The latest dual-mode cloud-native (SC) core signal controller supports 4G and 5G networks from the start, delivery and deployment continues as well.

General CI/CD Flow for CSP (Communication Service Providers)

Figure 1: General CI/CD Flow of CSP (Telecom Service Providers)

What is required to introduce automation?

Introducing AAT and automated workflows is a natural first step towards a fully automated CI/CD flow. With this, the duration of lifecycle management operations is greatly improved and enables better market reach in its class. The introduction of CI/CD means change in operations and change in ways of working. This is not a quick thing! It’s a journey that takes time, and we jointly support our clients to make this journey a success with tools and services.

The end-to-end flow begins with feature definition and ends with feature launch in the network. To make this process efficient, automation is critical throughout the entire pipeline from development to delivery, including performance metrics and feedback loops.

Ericsson’s CI/CD solution is based on an end-to-end software delivery pipeline called CDD (Continuous Delivery and Deployment). Expansion of the entire Ericsson product range is imperceptible; Uses select industry standards such as Spinnaker, Ansible, YAML (another markup language) as well as Ericsson automation tools; It also provides integration points for tools and other products used in the specific target environment (see CI/CD: An Ongoing Program for Continuous Change (ericsson.com) for more details).

CI/CD Benefits

Benefits of CI/CD in Communication Networks

Benefits of CI/CD in Communication Networks

At the beginning of this blog post, I talked about the need for products, processes, and organizational changes to go hand in hand to increase efficiency. I’ve just talked about products and solutions so far. Let’s see how one of the pioneers of CSPs, Turkcell, is using automation to increase efficiency (see also Turkcell and Ericsson’s successful publication of the Towing Signal Controller).

We have worked with Turkcell on various projects for many years. We have jointly implemented and piloted a lot of new technologies during this time. At Ericsson and Turkcell, we understand the importance of automation to save costs and reduce lead time. Automation is at its best if it overcomes organizational boundaries.

Here we are, sharing our best practices shared with Ms. Elif Yenihan Kaya, Director of Network Technology and Ms. Deniz Celik, Associate Director of Enhanced Voice Services at Turkcell. Elif Yenihan Kaya tells us about the goals and achievements of the project:

Turkcell started using Ericsson E-VNFM (Evolved VNF Manager) with vDSC and is now responsible for controlling signal traffic for our VoLTE (Voice over LTE) service. Its LCM (Lifecycle Management) requirements such as setup, upgrade and scaling/in type of operations with automated workflows are now possible. We believe your network automation investment is paying off quickly by improving the performance of critical functions such as testing and product lifecycle management.

Deniz Celik, tells in more detail about the benefits of the project:

“We can automatically scale up vDSC in just 20 minutes, upgrade software to one virtual network function in just 35 minutes, and new onboard DSC VNFs (virtual network functions) with day 0 and day 1 configurations in 40 minutes.”

Cover ATT test and reduce time to market

“We now feel even more comfortable with these LCM processes, thanks to the automated E-VNFM vDSC processes introduced with each new software release of vDSC.

Since Ericsson vDSC is now the heart of our network, controlling all diameter signal traffic, functional validation is a particularly important step for each new software release. We have started using the Ericsson AAT (Automated Acceptance Test) tool to automate Turkcell’s vDSC acceptance tests to perform this functional validation.

Now about 95% of Turkcell’s towing signal controller acceptance tests are done automatically with AAT when needed, such as after a new software release or after some network-wide change has been made.

“We found great value in combining E-VNFM for workflow automation and AAT for acceptance test automation, which allowed us to perform software updates more frequently, quickly and reliably.

Elif Yenihan Kaya talks about other steps in network automation:

“Network automation is a journey and it is critical to make improvements in every part of the network process. We will have CI/CD orchestration to handle it end-to-end as the next step.”

We have reduced our software upgrade time from several months to a week. Now it only takes a week for us to upgrade all 4 vDSCs in our network.

“Our long-term goal for complete Northwest automation is no-touch. In order to reduce time to market (TTM) for new functionality and features and to enable faster/more reliable network operations, we are collaborating closely with Ericsson and our IT, automation and architecture teams.” ”

Biography and photos of Turkcell spokespeople:

Elif Yenihan Kaya

Ms. Elif Yenihan Kaya, Network Technology Manager

Elif Yenihan Kaya started her career as a Telecom Engineer in Turkcell Network Operations. She has held various engineering roles in mobile network operations and planning.

She held various management positions in both operations and planning organizations. By 2013 she was appointed as Head of Mobile Network Planning Department. Since 2015, she has led the strategic planning of both fixed and mobile network technologies. As of today, she is responsible for the strategic planning of the core network.

Elif Yenihan Kaya graduated from Istanbul Technical University, Department of Electronics and Communications Engineering, and received her MBA from Bilgi University.

marine steel

Ms. Deniz Celik, Associate Director of Enhanced Voice Services

Deniz Celik began her career as a communications engineer at Alcatel-Lucent. She has taken on various engineering roles on global projects, and was finally appointed as the head of the design team.

She started working in Turkcell’s Network Planning Team in 2013, as the Director of the Fixed Voice Network Planning Team. As of 2019, she is responsible for service planning for Turkcell Voice and Signal Networks.

Deniz Celik graduated from Istanbul Technical University, Department of Communications Engineering, with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

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Read more about CI/CD

Read more about the Towing Signal Control Module

Read more about our Signal Controller