Architectural and Framework Standards: the eTOM Model (TMF)

The TeleManagement Forum (TMF) is a nonprofit global consortium that works on telecommunications management and the development of management systems and standards. It was established in 1988 as the OSI/Network Management Forum under the sponsorship of the ITU. Later the name was changed to TeleManagement Forum. The strategic goal of the TMF is to create or identify standard interfaces that allow a network to be managed consistently across various network element suppliers.

A major deliverable of the TMF was the TOM (Telecom Operations Map, GB910) model, a framework for telecom and Information Services business processes.

It was developed to drive a consensus around the processes, inputs, outputs, and activities required for service provider operations management. Its focus and scope were operations and operations management. TOM was extended and superseded by the eTOM (enhanced Telecom Operations Map, GB921 v6) model.

eTOM is a reference framework that categorizes the business processes that a service provider will use. It broadens the TOM model to a complete enterprise framework and addresses the impact of e-business environments and business drivers. eTOM can be considered a blueprint for standardizing business processes as well as operations support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS). Another area of improvement is process-modeling methodology, which provides the linkage necessary for Next-Generation Operations Support Systems (NGOSS). NGOSS programs implement a common system infrastructure framework, in which components that adhere to the specifications can interoperate in a flexible application infrastructure.

The eTOM model serves as a reference framework for categorizing all the business activities of a service provider. It categorizes them into different levels of detail according to their significance and priority for the business. The eTOM structure establishes the business language and foundation for the development and integration of BSS and OSS, respectively. eTOM provides a reference point and common language for service providers' internal process (re)engineering needs, partnerships, alliances, and general working agreements with other providers. For suppliers, the eTOM framework outlines potential boundaries of software components, and the required functions, inputs, and outputs that need to be supported by products using the common language of the service providers.

The ITU-T TMN models define management layers and focuses on general network management functionality. The eTOM focuses on managing operations, services, and interactions between the various components and building blocks. eTOM defines three major building blocks:

  • Operations (OPS)

  • Strategy, Infrastructure, and Product (SIP)

  • Enterprise Management (EM)

Related to this book's perspective, the OPS area is most relevant, because SIP and EM describe different functions such as marketing, supply chain, and financial management.

The core of the operations area is the Fulfillment, Assurance, and Billing (FAB) model. The Operations Support and Readiness (OSR) part was added to the original TOM FAB model (GB910). FAB operations are directly related to customer services, whereas OSR ensures that the operational environment is in place for FAB to be successful.

Therefore, the two definitions do not overlap, but complement each other. The TMN model lays the foundation for managing the infrastructure. eTOM adds service functions and processes, such as service definition and quality management, as well as customer management functionality, such as sales, order handling, and customer relationship management. eTOM can be used to analyze existing processes in organizations as well as for defining new processes. Note that the eTOM model introduces both vertical functions (OSR, fulfillment, assurance, billing) and functional process grouping in horizontal layers:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  • Service Management and Operations (SM&O)

  • Resource Management and Operations (RM&O)

  • Supplier/Partner Relationship Management (S/PRM)

Figure 3-4 is an overview of the eTOM operations areas. In August 2004, the ITU completed the ratification of eTOM as an official ITU standard. eTOM is published in the ITU M.3050 recommendation; however, it is based on a previous version of eTOM, GB921 v4.0. This book references eTOM GB921 v6.0 and v6.1.

Figure 3-4. TMF eTOM: Operations Area

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Operations includes processes that support customers, network operations, and management. This also consists of sales management and supplier/partner relationships management.

Fulfillment is responsible for delivering products and services to the customer. This includes order handling, service configuration and activation, and resource provisioning.

Assurance consists of proactive and reactive maintenance activities, service monitoring (SLA or QoS), resource status and performance monitoring, and troubleshooting. This includes continuous resource status and performance monitoring to proactively detect possible failures, and the collection of performance data and analysis to identify and resolve potential or real problems.

Billing collects usage data records (accounting), various rating functions, and billing operations. This includes production of timely and accurate bills, providing pre-bill use information and billing to customers, processing their payments, and performing payment collections. A detailed description of each layer can be found in the TMF's eTOM document (GB921). The following is a brief summary of the two areas that are most relevant for accounting and performance management. Within these two, the emphasis is on assurance and billing, because neither fulfillment nor OSR is related to accounting and performance:

  • Resource Management & Operations (RM&O) is responsible for application, computing, and network resources. It includes Resource Trouble Management, which performs fault monitoring and management functions, such as processing device notifications, root cause analysis, and fault reporting. Resource Performance Management is another function of RM&O. It monitors, analyzes, and reports performance data from the devices. A common RM&O function between assurance and billing is Resource Data Collection and Processing. It gathers and distributes management data between devices and service instances.

  • Service Management & Operations (SM&O) consists of Service Problem Management and Service Quality Management in the assurance section. These are responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and controlling operational services, as well as detecting, analyzing, and localizing service problems.

In the billing area, Service and Specific Instance Rating correlates service events and converts them into a specific format. Reports for chargeable and noncacheable events can be generated—for example, to identify fraud.

From the perspective of this book, the eTOM operations processes are relevant—particularly fulfillment, assurance, and billing.

Part II: Implementations on the Cisco Devices