India’s carrier-neutral infrastructure platform, Lightstorm, has built its self-service portal for enterprise customers by deploying an operational support systems (OSS) stack on Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud platform instead of an on-premises data centre.
Lightstorm’s chief technology and information officer, Lalit Chowdhary, said at the recent AWS India summit, that this approach has helped the company in achieving openness, transparency, real-time monitoring and also reduce operations costs.
The I Squared Capital-backed Lightstorm has set up a network-as-a-service offering for the enterprise sector and has built a 15,000 km pan-Indian fibre network, connecting data centres by running fibre along with India's power grid infrastructure.
According to the company’s CEO Amajit Gupta, Lightstorm plans to launch its network-as-a-service model in Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh later this year.
As a part of this overall investment effort, the company will invest US$1 billion over the next three-to-five years in India and Southeast Asia (SEA) to increase its fibre network capacity and cable landing stations.
At the AWS summit, Chowdhary noted that network operations centres (NOCs) face several challenges including lack of transparency, siloed working methods, high attrition rate and dependency on manual intervention throughout the workflow.
“Lightstorm’s adoption of a fundamentally different approach has helped us address these challenges,” he said.
Chowdhary added that the OSS stacks on AWS provide “functionality for communications service providers to manage their networks including provisioning services, managing network inventory, configuration, handling parts and ensuring service quality levels while the business support systems (BSS) take on managing customers, processing bills and collecting payments”.
He added that conventionally, OSS and BSS stacks were deployed on-premises or in data centres that required heavy upfront investment to procure infrastructure, extensive lead times and operational hassles.
“With AWS, firms like ours can deploy the OSS stacks in multiple availability zones, deploy using Kubernetes nodes if containerised or migrate BSS applications to AWS without purchasing new hardware, rewriting applications or modifying existing operations,” Chowdhary added.
He noted that Lightstorm’s self-service portal’s architecture is compliant with TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture reference and provides real-time monitoring and end-to-end visibility of the network.
He added that Lightstorm uses a standard information framework to automate workflows between Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM), Oracle’s billing and revenue management (BRM) and the Freshdesk trouble ticketing system.
“This has helped us in automating processes, faster completion of tasks and quicker redress of any issues,” he added.
Chowdhary said the AWS solution allows the company to “implement automation processes like continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), DevOps and infrastructure automation to reduce human errors”.
It also provided artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) analytics, IoT platforms, containers, and more services to support digital transformation strategy and enable data-driven decisions, he added.
“What makes architecture unique is our ability to integrate network controllers into the IT stack,” Chowdhary said.
Lightstorm uses network controllers that are based on the standard model that can abstract network functions using open REST APIs.
“This provides seamless integration into all the building blocks,” he added.
Chowdhary explained that they have integrated the building blocks of the IT stacks and hosted all the modules in AWS.
“It provides us with higher availability infrastructure for faster turn-up of services and anywhere access,” he added
Related function modules are generally pre-integrated and configured only for workflows and use cases defined by end-users, said Chowdhary.
He said ensuring automation at every stage and smart implementation of digital tools has helped “achieve business success”.
“Cloud technologies and software solutions that run on AWS can be used to structure, accelerate and de-risk operational transformation journeys,” he added.