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NREN: Is it Time to Move to the Cloud?

15 May 2023
Peter van Hartingsveld

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

In the communications industry, the trend towards migrating service and connectivity solutions to the cloud is well-established. What about for NRENs? Network inventory management is a good place to start.

NREN: is it time to Move to the Cloud?

If you’re an NREN, your focus is on the provision of high-quality network connectivity, likely bringing together some combination of universities, research facilities, schools, institutes of further education, libraries, museums, hospitals, other public service organisations, and the Internet. In keeping with trends in today’s broader communications industry, if you’re not already using either cloud environments as a support or delivery mechanism, you should now be considering such a transition.

But what would a transition to the cloud mean? What does cloud migration involve and why would you do it? What advantages does cloud deployment deliver?

The time is right to reap the benefits

In the telecoms industry generally, it’s safe to say that the cloud is now proven as a secure and reliable model for hosting infrastructure. The leading analyst firm, Gartner, predicts that this year (2023), worldwide public cloud spending will grow 20.7% to total $591.8 billion, up from $490.3 billion in 2022. It anticipates that by 2025, enterprises will spend more on public cloud services than traditional IT solutions.[1]

The forecasts bear out the reality we already see on the ground. Now established and ongoing projects are demonstrating daily how cloud can support a variety of use cases, in the process speeding up digital transformation. Of relevance to NRENs here is the case of the OSS. To deliver on the goals of automated service configuration and provisioning, which require the availability of topology, resource and asset information for use by orchestration systems, the managing network information in the cloud is a ready-made solution. So, let’s look in more detail at the specific use case.

Network inventory in the cloud

Inventory management makes sense as a primary candidate for cloud migration. A domain within the broader OSS, it provides a central point for resource information by interfacing to all elements and assets within the NREN’s network, thus creating and delivering a consolidated picture and record of what’s happening to systems that rely on having access to this information, such as orchestration or automation platforms.

This is important because only if NRENs understand all the elements in their networks and are able to correlate them with each other can they hope to manage, optimize, and evolve the performance of their assets and the delivery of their services. To deliver any service optimally, a comprehensive and immediate overview of how all the components deployed in the process of delivery perform is required. This includes not only the physical base of which the network itself is comprised but also logical and virtual assets.

Such a view isn’t necessarily easy to achieve as legacy networks tend to be fragmented and distributed. A typical NREN network has the traditional access, transport, and core domains, but some also run multi-national and cross-border networks. Particularly in the case of distributed networks the need to elevate operational systems and processes into the cloud, in order to drive automation and efficiencies across the entire network footprint, is paramount. 

Plus, NRENs should bear in mind that, while the reasons for inventory management in the cloud may be compelling, the alternative – doing nothing – is risky. NREN networks are growing rapidly, and technologies are evolving quickly, so the range of assets and functions that must be managed are increasing. To meet expanding performance expectations, NRENs must have an accurate picture of their inventory at all times. The cloud is the logical place to achieve it.

Saas for nrens

Deploying Network Inventory Management in the Cloud

Why? In a nutshell, because the cloud allows NRENs to take advantage of the agility, elasticity, and scalability it affords. The Cloud enables NRENs to:

  • Reduce IT costs
  • Improve business continuity
  • Facilitate collaboration
  • Operate more flexibly

…and gain a number of other advantages.

Reflecting this, network inventory management as-a-service, from the cloud, based on the same cloud infrastructure and architecture used by operators globally, is now coming to the fore.

One example of how it can be used is VC4-IMS, a leading Network Inventory Management solution that enables NRENs to bring clarity to their assets and provides a foundation for ensuring that investments in digital transformation deliver. VC4-IMS eliminates scattered data silos, in the process unlocking a single, consolidated view and at the same time transitioning the NREN into the emergent Cloud landscape.

This provides a number of direct benefits including:

  • Advanced network inventory management functionality via a complete, cloud-based solution
  • Flexible managed service options, with tiers of service and SLAs to meet your needs and budgets
  • Elimination of legacy approaches to inventory management with a cloud-based solution that’s ready to support all your network investments
  • Change the balance from CAPEX to OPEX to ensure efficient network evolution and that you target investments where they matter

With the availability of VC4 Network Inventory as-a-service – based on multiple hyper-scalers, Tier 1 cloud infrastructure providers – NRENs can choose the deployment model and SLAs that meet their own specific needs and plans.

VC4-IMS – a complete inventory management solution for NRENs

VC4-IMS is a complete, intelligent inventory management system that brings data together, eliminating silos and providing a consolidated record of your network assets – physical, virtual, logical, and service – giving you clarity and supporting operational automation and transformation. VC4 offers IMS as a on-premise or as a cloud solution to best fit your operational needs.

Available from the cloud, it provides the critical resource you need for your cloud journey – for distributed, multi-vendor networks and any generation of technology – and for any size of network provider.

If you’re attending TNC23 in Tirana, 5th to 9th June, VC4 would be delighted to have the opportunity to discuss your own cloud-related or on premise plans in person at Booth 14. We have many insights to share based on our extensive experience cloud migrations and working with the NREN community. If you’d like to meet us, please let us know!