Cable Network Reliability: ProOps Platform for PNM and More!

Jason Rupe
Principal Architect

Jul 23, 2019

Cable network reliability has many important dimensions, but operators are all too familiar with the significant cost of maintenance and repair, and some with the advantages of Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM). But not everyone has taken full advantage of PNM. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons for that, and what CableLabs is doing to address those needs as part of its PNM project.

The Proactive Operations Problem

CableLabs has been informally assessing the reasons why more operators don’t take advantage of the proactive gift that DOCSIS® provides: the ability to use PNM data to find problems in the network before they become impactful and costly.

It takes a lot of work to implement solid PNM solutions that keep working. A key task in operations is to make decisions based on data. That takes expertise and time. Not every operator or vendor has an expert army in place to analyze all the available operations data to find proactive maintenance work worth doing. Machine learning is anticipated to help, but it will require a lot of work to apply those techniques successfully to an operations task like PNM, and even more to develop the needed controls. Likewise, not every operator or vendor has a statistical analysis or IT army in place to build enterprise tools to automate the process of turning data into action.

Some operators need to start small with testing PNM concepts to find a solution that fits their needs. That means many operators must experiment and learn first. But that requires basic, general tools in hand before experimentation can begin.

A ProOps Platform for Everyone

A ProOps Platform for Everyone

Figure 1. ProOps with its elements and workers in four layers, built on CCF, on top of the network.

CableLabs created a generalized process for translating data into operations actions and applied it to PNM. Then we built the Proactive Operations (ProOps) platform to enable this process, thus making it easy for everyone to try, develop, deploy and make full use of PNM.

ProOps translates network data into action through a framework that is not strictly enforced but is enabled and supported to better ensure effective proactive maintenance.

The steps we identify for turning network data into action are briefly as follows, moving up from the network, through data collection, and through the worker layers of ProOps in Figure 1.

  • Extract Data from the Common Collection Framework (CCF)—ProOps uses CCF to extract the data it needs from the network, then applies basic analysis to translate the data into useful information.
  • Analyze for Triggering—Next, the results are analyzed further to determine whether they are interesting or not; interesting results are “triggered” for deeper scrutiny. The data are looked at over time and across data sources to orient the information into context.
  • Make It Actionable—Once we find the most interesting network elements to watch, we group network elements into network tasks and provide a measure of importance for the identified work.

Threshold Analysis—The best work opportunities get picked to become proactive work packages, which can be selected based on impact to customers, likelihood of becoming an emergency, and so on.

You ShOODA Get ProOps!

The steps we outline for turning network data into action—or in this case pro-action—align nicely with the well-known strategy of observe, orient, decide, act (OODA). This OODA loop, or OODA process, was created by U.S. Air Force Colonel John Boyd for combat operations. The operations of combating network failure aren’t much different! If you work as a cable operator, then you know.

ProOps is available upon request to any operator member or vendor of the CableLabs community. CableLabs supports users by helping them to deploy ProOps with an example application that shows how to configure it to a specific operator or use case, and we will help our members develop solutions in it, too. Just contact Jason Rupe to get your copy.

Our goal is to help operators provide highly reliable service, and efficient, effective operations is one proven way to do that. ProOps is the latest tool to combat network failures.



  Inform[ED] Video: Cable Modem Validation Application

Jason Rupe
Principal Architect

May 9, 2018

Ever-present communication is an important part of life these days. Cable technology provides connectivity for homes and businesses, providing entertainment, information and increasingly important functions for life. As we rely more on all forms of communications access, we rely on our cable modems to help keep services running their best. Cable modems have therefore become more capable - they can report on network problems they see as they adjust around those problems. The cable industry refers to the information obtainable from these capable cable modems as Proactive Network Maintenance data.

CableLabs has created an application to share with the industry which can make sure cable modems are doing their best with reporting their Proactive Network Maintenance data. This sharing enables members, vendors and our own laboratories to be on the same page with validating our cable modems. The application automates the Proactive Network Maintenance tests that are part of the certification tests conducted at CableLabs for the industry. Everyone in the industry can use it to reduce their cycle times and costs around certification testing, but they can use it also to develop new capabilities, special versions of modems to support new capabilities, and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Cable Modem Validation Application you can read my technical blog here and watch the video below. 


A Coder’s Announcement of the CableLabs C3 Platform for Collaborative Software Development

Arianne Hinds
Principal Architect, Video & Standards Strategy Research and Development

Mar 24, 2016

[highlighter line=0]

If ( the sight of software source code does not make you uncomfortable )
    * Then please continue to read the code below to get the story behind this blog.
    * If reading source code is not your “cup of tea”, then please find the main message
    * for this blog below, i.e. following the big ELSE statement.
    * Copyright:  2016 Cable Television Laboratories, Inc.

   enum {FALSE=0, TRUE=1} ;

   int cable-industry-embraces-open-source = TRUE ; 

   int number-of-active-C3-projects = 3 ; 

   while ( cable-industry-embraces-open-source ) do
      CableLabs stands up the C3 software development platform;

      If ( already-familiar-with-C3 == FALSE ) 
         enum essential-elements-of-C3 = { IT_INFRASTRUCTURE , 
                       ACCESS_CONTROL ,
                       OPEN_SOURCE_BEST_PRACTICES ,
                       CODE_REPOSITORIES , 
                       ISSUE_TRACKER , 
                       BUILD_TOOLS ,
                       VERIFICATION_TESTS ,
                       REVIEW_AND_CHECKIN_TOOLS ,
                       MODULAR_LICENSING ,
                       FLEXIBLE_GOVERNANCE_MODEL ,
                       IPR_MANAGEMENT } ;
         C3 is supported by CableLabs ;    
         C3 follows after successful Linux Foundation model ; 
         C3 is a platform for collaborative software development ;
         C3 is scalable to accommodate a large number of projects ;       
         C3 provides a project template charter for anyone to start a new project ;
         Projects can be truly “open” where access is open to anyone ; 
         Projects can also be “closed” where access to code (etc) is restricted ;
         Projects can migrate from C3 to other Open Source and Standards Bodies ;

      For ( int project-number=0; project-number<number-active-C3-projects; project-number++ )

         switch (project-number) {

         case 0:  /* Cisco OpenRPD project */
            RPD is Remote PHY Device ;
            Project seed code donated by CISCO ;
            Key cable industry vendors are participating ;
         case 1:  /* Proactive Network Maintenance */
            PNM tools help operators troubleshoot the network ;
            Network devices measure key diagnostic attributes ;
            Identify and isolate problems before they are customer impacting ;
         case 2:  /* TruView */
            TruView software characterizes cable plant signaling ;
            Project seed code supplied by Comcast and extended by CableLabs ;
            Advanced video diagnostic tools ;

            C3 has more than 3 projects now ;

      If ( (interested-in-learning-more || interested-in-starting-project) == TRUE )

         review project charter form at https://community.cablelabs.com/wiki/display/C3 ;
         send email to c3@cablelabs.com ;
} ;
    * We assume that the plain text version of this story is easier for you to read.
    * The relevance of collaborative software development, including open source and  
    * community-source approaches, for the cable industry cannot be overestimated. 
    * Increasingly, collaboratively developed software is being deployed in cable  
    * products and services. And, the development tools that the industry uses to build  
    * those products and services often leverage open source implementations. The RDK  
    * is just one example that demonstrates the robust and powerful approach of sourcing  
    * the software development across an open or semi-open community (i.e. community  
    * source group) for the cable industry.  Other cross-industry organizations where 
    * the cable industry participates include the Open Platform for Network Function 
    * Virtualization  and the OpenDaylight Platform.  
    * So, what’s missing for the cable industry?  
    * ANSWER:  A platform where the cable industry (and beyond) can collectively  
    * collaborate around the development of tools and software assets relevant, 
    * but not limited, to cable.  
    * At its Winter Conference 2016, CableLabs announced the launch of the 
    * Common Code Community (C3) platform, including essential elements such as IT 
    * infrastructure, development tools, repositories, access control, recommended  
    * best practices, modular licensing, and outreach to other communities and standards. 
    * As of today, the C3 project hosts three projects:
    * 1.  OpenRPD – A software reference implementation supporting the Remote PHY
    *     Device architecture – a virtualization architectures used in distributed
    *     CCAP implementations.  Seeded with software developed and contributed by 
    *     Cisco, the project drives core router and remote PHY interoperability.
    * 2.  Proactive Network Maintenance (PNM) – A set of tools that reduce troubleshooting
    *     and problem resolution time by detecting and localizing network problems 
    *     before they impact the customer.   
    * 3.  TruView - Software seeded by Comcast and extended by CableLabs as a set 
    *     of tools to assist cable operators in the successful deployment of 2-way 
    *     infrastructure used to load and initialize settop boxes
    * Each project defines its own governance structure such as who is allowed 
    * to commit code, submit code, launch builds, define new code releases, and so on.
    * The C3 platform also provides a flexible license model where each project sets 
    * the licensing and IPR structures most appropriate for its goals and assets.
    * For more information on C3: you can send email to: c3@cablelabs.com