ETSI has announced the release of three major specifications and report developed by its Zero-touch network and Service Management (ZSM) group. ETSI GS ZSM 003, defines end-to-end network slicing management and orchestration architecture blueprint and solutions, and ETSI GS ZSM 009-1 specifies the enablers for closed-loop automation. The general security aspects related to the ZSM framework and solutions, and potential mitigation options are introduced in the ETSI GR ZSM 010.
The ETSI ZSM group was formed with the goal to define a future-proof, end-to-end operable framework, solutions and core technologies which would enable zero-touch automation of emerging and future networks and services/slices.
The ultimate target is to enable network autonomous operation steered by high-level policies. The autonomous networks will be able to self-manage and self-organise (configuration, healing, assurance, optimisation, etc.) without human intervention beyond the initial transmission of intents.
ETSI GS ZSM 003 defines an architecture blueprint and solutions for zero-touch management and orchestration of end-to-end, cross-domain network slicing – supporting both fulfilment and assurance processes. Network slicing spans different technological domains, from the User Equipment (UE) through, for example, the access network, transport network, core network, to the application.
The specification leverages existing industry specifications, stitches them together and provides a federated solution. The alignment and leverage of synergies across ETSI ZSM, 3GPP, O-RAN, IETF, BBF, TMF, GSMA NEST, etc. is essential to enable the delivery of end-to-end network slicing that can satisfy the requirements from vertical industries and the demands of network operators.
ETSI GS ZSM 009-1 specified ‘Governance’ services that allow the creation, execution and life-cycle management of a closed loop, as well as the steering of its behaviour. A closed loop enables the continuous optimisation and adaption of network and resource utilisation as well as automated service assurance and fulfilment.
Advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence can empower the closed-loop operation. The specification provides capabilities to support coordination, delegation and escalation between closed loops to ensure intelligent, consistent and coherent operation.
Alignment and leverage of this document horizontally and vertically by 3GPP and O-RAN is essential to ensure cross-use cases, cross-domains, cross-planes, interoperable, unified and consistent closed-loops and cognitive operation.
The threat surface in the ZSM environment is extensive due to the openness of the ZSM framework and the nature of the related emerging technologies (e.g. AI/ML, data lake, cloud native applications).
ETSI GR ZSM 010 identifies potential security threats related to the ZSM framework and solutions, and proposes mitigation options that should be considered by the ZSM specifications to ensure that the automated processes are secured and deliver the intended business outcomes.
The report introduces countermeasures and potential requirements to address the threats and risks. A related normative specification work (ETSI GS ZSM 014) has commenced. Security is essential in the establishment of confidence in the automation process, and its adoption.
The ISG ZSM works to strengthen the collaboration with key organisations to promote the adoption of and alignment with the ZSM architecture and solutions to ensure automated end-to-end network and service management can be achieved.