Service OAM Demystified

Carrier Ethernet | July 15, 2013 | 3 min read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Carrier Ethernet OAM

Service OAM (or Operation, Administration & Maintenance) is simply about detecting service performance degradation and making the networks more reliable. Developments in OAM are arguably the most important networking advancements and that is what makes OAM the backbone of the modern ethernet services being provided today.

Wondering why OAM is such a big deal when we already had fault management systems in place? With the advent of carrier grade ethernet, especially with Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0), the networking technologies, environment and most importantly the service types have changed. So have the customer expectations. Due to the intense competition, network operators need to guarantee SLAs to their customers. And Service OAM technologies today, not just provides network operators greater visibility into their networks, but also allows them to measure the service assurance parameters such as Frame Loss, Frame Delay, Jitter.

With Service OAM, network operators can find out when their service has gone down or are not meeting SLAs and resolve the issue, before they receive complaints from customers. It allows service providers to efficiently monitor and maintain carrier-grade ethernet services over multi-vendor and multi-carrier networks. And this naturally accelerates revenue & lowers network maintenance cost and most importantly, improves the customer experience.

All that sounds quite simple right? But why is it that anytime that we overhear a conversation about Service OAM (which is quite often) our minds get cluttered with accompanying jargon such as Y.1731, RFC 2544, Y1564 and 802.1ag. Let us try to decipher them.

So what really are Y.1731, 802.1ag and Y.1564?

They are just different tools/protocols used to provide network operators the visibility into the network to detect any faults… know when the customer service is down…  or even find out if the network is meeting the stringent performance standards. These protocols help service providers with service assurance & service testing/diagnostics.

(Want to understand each of them in more detail? I have briefly explained each of these protocols at the end of the post. Before that, let’s understand how this data gathered helps.)

So what happens to all this performance information from the multiple tools? It is gathered by the Network Management Systems!

And what does the NMS do with this data? 

The Network Management System is crucial for a simple reason… It not just renders the OAM information to the network manager but also enables network managers to set up the OAM management infrastructure. WebNMS Carrier Ethernet solution allows service providers to fully leverage the OAM capabilities.

Let’s look at all the things that the NMS does…

PROVISIONING: It includes aspects like configuration and management of the OAM devices. In WebNMS, the complex and error prone process is simplified with the provisioning wizard to set up the OAM devices and profiles.

GATHER ANALYZE & REPORT: WebNMS Carrier Ethernet Solution has enabled integration with the widest set of Service OAM tools to accurately gather the performance data. With the data warehousing and analytics on Hadoop, WebNMS mashes the performance data from over a period to provide insights-driven KPI reports & dashboards. Request for a demo and see the real value it delivers.

CUSTOMER PORTAL: The customer portal is the best way to communicate to the service users about the quality of service that they are receiving. WebNMS’ cloud-based customer portals enable customers to view their service usage stats and performance metrics.


Read on to know more about Y.1731, 802.1ag and Y.1564

Before I explain them further, I would like to clarify that these are just the most commonly used tools/protocols for OAM today. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Y.1731 often referred to as Performance Management, provides unparalleled power to  proactively manage networks and customer Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Its capability to accurately measure SLA metrics in multi-vendor environments has made it the de-facto standard for SLA measurement.

802.1ag commonly known as Connectivity Fault Management (or CFM) consists of multiple methods that proactively send messages across the network to check the connectivity across the network. To be specific, it facilitates path discovery, fault detection, fault verification and isolation, fault notification and fault recovery.

Y.1564 is the service activation protocol. It is also know as Circuit Testing and replaces RFC 2544 as it is better suited for accurate validation of the network. It is used to validate and troubleshoot the network functioning before the service is activated.

Have any specific clarifications? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments section.

Watch out for the next post to know more about Carrier Ethernet Network Management.