Trace Management: A Key Function in O-RAN SMO

Recently we blogged about optimizing O-RAN performance and management using  O-RAN SMO and a new O-RAN SMO performance dashboard now available in AMCOP

Another key function of the O-RAN Service Management and Orchestration (SMO) framework is Trace Management. The O-RAN SMO provides a set of trace management functions that enable network operators to collect, store, and analyze trace data from different network elements.

The O-RAN SMO's trace management capabilities include real-time trace collection and analysis, as well as long-term trace storage and retrieval. The trace data collected from different network elements can be used for a variety of purposes, including network troubleshooting, performance optimization, and security analysis.

The O-RAN SMO's trace management functions are designed to support the O-RAN Alliance's open and standardized interfaces and protocols. This ensures that trace data can be collected from different vendors' equipment and analyzed in a consistent and interoperable way.

The O-RAN SMO's trace management capabilities also support advanced analytics and machine learning techniques. This enables network operators to detect and analyze patterns in the trace data, identify performance issues, and predict potential problems before they occur.

Trace Data can be reported from the Network Function (NF) to the SMO via trace files or via a streaming interface. Currently, Aarna’s SMO offering supports file-based trace records that are available to the SMO and streaming support will be available soon. Trace management utilizes O-RAN file management standards to collect trace files from NF, and notifications can be transmitted through NETCONF or VES.

Let us take a closer look at the high-level workflow involved in using AMCOP SMO (Service Management and Orchestration) to enhance trace collection processes.

High-level Workflow:

1. User Initiates Trace Job Creation:

The workflow begins with a user leveraging AMCOP SMO to create one or more trace jobs. These trace jobs specify the criteria and parameters for collecting trace data from the RAN elements.

2. User Requests Trace Collection:

Once the trace jobs are configured, the user sends an RPC (Remote Procedure Call) to initiate the trace collection process. This RPC serves as the trigger for data collection.

3. RAN Element Starts Trace Collection:

Upon receiving the RPC, the RAN element responsible for trace collection commences its operations. It starts collecting trace data based on the predefined job parameters.

4. Notification to AMCOP SMO:

As the RAN element collects trace data, it communicates with the Management Service (Mns) Consumer, which is typically the AMCOP SMO component. This communication is achieved through a notification event known as "notifyFileReady."

5. File Generation and Notification:

The "notifyFileReady" event indicates that a Trace Measurement file has been successfully generated and is ready for upload. This notification acts as a signal for further actions in the workflow.

6. SMO Notifies VES Collector:

AMCOP SMO, upon receiving the notification, takes the next step by notifying the VES (Virtual Event Stream) Collector. The VES Collector is responsible for gathering events and data from various network elements.

7. DFC Polls VES Collector:

The Data File Collector (DFC), an integral part of the process, continuously polls the VES Collector. This polling aims to retrieve information about the generated trace files and their locations.

8. Trace File Upload to DFC:

Armed with the file information obtained from the VES Collector, the DFC proceeds to upload the trace files from the RAN element to its storage location within the DFC pod.

9. Storage Location in DFC Pod:

The trace files are stored in a specific directory structure within the DFC pod. This structure typically follows the pattern: /tmp/onap_datafile/<RAN Device name>/<file path from notification>. This organization simplifies data management and retrieval.

10. Optional SFTP Upload:

If a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) uploader is configured, the DFC can upload the trace files to an external SFTP server. This step enhances data redundancy and accessibility.

11. Data Retention Decision:

The DFC may decide whether to retain or delete the trace files after successful upload based on a predefined variable, typically referred to as "delete_datafile."

12. User-Controlled Trace Collection Termination:

To maintain flexibility, users have the ability to stop trace collection jobs at any time by sending a stop trace job RPC. This user-initiated action allows for the management of trace collection processes.

Overall, the O-RAN SMO's trace management functions are critical for ensuring the reliability, availability, and security of O-RAN networks. By providing real-time trace analysis, long-term trace storage, and advanced analytics capabilities, the O-RAN SMO enables operators to quickly troubleshoot network issues, optimize network performance, and enhance network security.

See the Aarna Networks AMCOP SMO User Guide for more information.

I’ll be at the upcoming Fyuz event in Madrid, Oct 9-10, talking about O-RAN, Private 5G, the Nephio project, and more. Contact us to meet up at the show. 

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