Action Week 2020: Pulling it all together

Figuring out how to implement use cases for autonomous networks, developing “checklists” and APIs for AI, working out how to monetize 5G among partners, and developing a reference implementation for future support system architectures are just some of the goals TM Forum members are advancing at Action Week, which got underway Monday in Lisbon, Portugal.

Held twice a year, Action Week brings together communications service providers (CSPs), their suppliers and others from the ICT industry to collaborate on standards and best practices for business processes and network operations. The meetings are often members’ only chance to work together face to face on important challenges.

Since members who work in one Collaboration Community workstream may not know about what is happening in the others, an important effort this week is to explain the relationships and interdependencies between them, particularly how work on the Open Digital Architecture (ODA), autonomous networks and AI intersects. During a combined session, members collaborating in each of the three groups came together to provide updates on their work and then broke into groups to discuss how best to articulate the relationships between them.

Mapping is needed

“There are reference architectures; there are best practices and guidebooks; there’s data governance – there’s a whole plethora of stuff going on,” Kevin McDonnell, Senior Director, Ireland Research Centre, Huawei Technologies, summarized. “We need some kind of mapping exercise.”

McDonnell’s group provided a white board sketch that the full group agreed could serve as a good starting point. It appeared as a simple Venn diagram illustrating intersection of the ODA, AI and Autonomous Networks projects.

But as they discussed it further, it became clear that a simple Venn diagram probably isn’t enough if AI use case requirements, AIOps service management and other specific work needs to be illustrated.

“It’s a universe of possibilities, and a universe is a multi-dimensional thing,” said Christian Maître, Director of Global Operations Transformation Deployment at Orange Group. “Instead of having this flat vision, we need something that is 3D or 4D.”

Earlier on, Maître’s team presented a diagram that looked more like the layered ODA architecture.

Another group saw the focus as being on end-to-end services.

“It’s not just at the network and production layer, and it’s not just the traditional network,” explained George Glass, TM Forum’s VP of Architecture and APIs who has responsibility for ODA, autonomous networks and Open APIs. “It’s actually everything from the customer through network operations and down to the network domain… Our primary goal of autonomous networks is to reduce OpEx and CapEx, improve the customer’s experience and optimize resources.”

Other groups had different visions:

“We tried to keep it really simple,” said Rob Claxton, Chief Researcher at BT Research and leader of the AI collaboration work. “We said it’s developing the framework for the correct, safe and reliable use of AI. The motivation is to deploy AI at scale and respect our legal obligations and regulatory requirements.”

A place to start

This session served as a good starting point to help members understand the relationship among components of TM Forum’s Open Digital Framework, an umbrella set of tools which includes all the assets being developed through the TM Forum Collaboration Program and Catalyst Program.

If you have questions about any of this work, you can send a message to [email protected]. If you’d like to get involved in TM Forum’s Collaboration Community, please contact Andy Tiller.

Stay tuned this week for more news from Action Week.

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