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March 11, 2022

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NTT Laboratories Achieve ETSI ZSM based End-to-End Orchestration of 5G network slicing

NTT Network Service System Laboratories and NTT Network Innovation Center announced today that they have collaborated with NTT Communications Corporation (NTT Com), NTT DOCOMO, INC. to successfully test end-to-end orchestration (E2EO) technology based on the Zero Touch Network and Service Management (ZSM) standard of ETSI, a European standardization organization. This first successful proof of concept (PoC) of the technology by Japanese telecom operators is expected to clarify the degree of fulfillment of ZSM-specified management services and information models and thereby firm up technical requirements for commercial operation.

Implementing 5G network slicing across entire mobile networks will realize high-quality and low-cost network services that flexibly meet the needs of diverse customers. 5G network slicing implementation requires end-to-end (E2E) coordinated orchestration and management of multiple domains in the operator's network. E2EO technology automates provisioning, monitoring, and operations of the whole 5G network slice consisting of the core network domain, the transport network domain, and other domains on common infrastructure. This is expected to lead to digital transformation of network operators' domain workflows and on-demand or rapid network service activation for customers.

This PoC tested E2EO based 5G network slice orchestration and partial monitoring supposing commercial network operation using our testbed which includes E2EO and 5G mobile network including the core network domain and transport network domain with its domain-specific controllers. Specifically, the network slice management model of the transport network and core network is translated and coordinated with E2EO, and E2EO orchestrates these domains to create or delete network slices. 5G network slice orchestration and automation by E2EO is based on the latest ZSM standards, and multi-domain orchestration across transport domain and core network domain is implemented. Each entity of this PoC implements architecture and management services of ZSM specifications, so we evaluated the level of sufficiency regarding orchestration and management features of ZSM specs.

This PoC is enabled by NTT Network Service Systems Laboratories' and NTT Network Innovation Center's technologies, which are an automated cloud-native network function provisioning engine*1 (ACPE*2), multi-layer transport network provisioning engine*3, and high-accuracy network monitoring and control technology (HANMOC*4,5) for transport network and core network domain controllers. In addition, slice gateways*6 connecting and monitoring various types of communication paths manage E2E services by stitching network slices of 5G and transport. A one-stop construction agent*7 configures and monitors slice gateways. These technologies work together on the basis of ZSM standard and sequence and implement ZSM-specified management services to implement automated 5G network slice orchestration.

ETSI, established in 1988, is a European standardization organization for telecommunications technology, has more than 900 member companies and research institutes from 65 countries. In ZSM, one of its working groups, participating companies are discussing the standardization of automation technology for network operation. This PoC is based on ZSM standard and is also recognized by the ZSM for compliance with its PoC requirements. The results and key findings of this test will accelerate ZSM standardization activities. It is expected that more technology vendors and network operators will advance their implementation and service creation on the basis of ZSM standards.

NTT Network Service System Laboratories and NTT Network Innovation Center will continue to research and develop 6G/IOWN function dedicated network and Cognitive Foundation*8 by enhancing 5G network slicing and its E2E orchestration technologies.

*1The technology that automatically designs computation resource allocation and deployment locations of cloud-native network functions (CNFs) using machine-learning based performance estimation for required service level agreements (SLAs) and also that provisions and activates the 5GCs in accordance with the optimization results in both the design and operation phases.

*2Automated CNF Provisioning Engine

*3Integrated software defined network (SDN) controller supporting IP based network, such as Segment Routing, and optical transport. This technology enables optimal transport network performance assurance based on SLA requirements by automated optimal path provisioning of IP, carrier Ethernet, and optical transport paths.

*4This technology aims at enhancing the maintenance operations necessary for the 5G networks and its quality assurance, in determining the routes for telecommunication services, etc.

*5High-Accuracy Network MOnitoring and Control: HANMOC, https://www.rd.ntt/e/research/NIC0008.htmlOpen other window

*6End-to-end Network Slice Configuration Technology Tailored to Service Requirements, https://www.rd.ntt/e/research/NIC0005.htmlOpen other window

*7Yuji Soejima, Motomu Nakajima, and Kensuke Takahashi, "One-stop Operation Technology," NTT Technical Review, Vol.14, No.10, Oct. 2016, https://www.ntt-review.jp/archive/ntttechnical.php?contents=ntr201610fa5.pdf&mode=show_pdfOpen other window

*8What is the Cognitive Foundation?, https://www.rd.ntt/e/iown/0004.htmlOpen other window

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