Top 5 Network Automation Software Providers for CSPs

Automation tools are increasingly considered essential for Communication Service Providers (CSPs) as cloud-native networks become the norm. While digitally native 5G mobile networks accelerate digital transformation, they introduce more network processes, interfaces, and operations. This goes hand-in-hand with an increasing number of network parameters, processing algorithms, and the number of security alarms in both telco and enterprise networks. To help meet the greater demand for digital services, CSPs are adopting network automation software tools, which is a major corporate change for many organizations. Here are the top-five ranked network automation providers, according to ABI Research’s Cloud-Native Network Automation and Orchestration Software Market competitive assessment.

Table of Contents:


Amdocs company logo

Amdocs is a communications software vendor founded in Israel and based in Missouri, United States. ABI Research ranked Amdocs as the implementation leader in the competitive ranking, having strong ties with multiple Tier One CSPS (AT&T as a standout). The company’s network automation software offerings include Network Inventory, Service Fulfillment & Activation, End-to-End (E2E) Service & Network Orchestration, and Amdocs Helix Service Assurance Suite. These software tools encompass the company’s Intelligent Networking Suite (INS) and Radio Access Network (RAN) analytics.

Telcos that partner with Amdocs benefit from an intent-driven approach to network automation, which improves efficiency and agility. For example, CSPs can allocate workloads and Network Functions (NFs) based on any combination of business parameters (location, throughput, latency, cloud environment, etc.).

In general, Amdocs is the most impressive network automation software company with great prestige among telcos. Its automation tools solve everything from customer ordering/fulfillment to network orchestration for Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), 5G slicing, and cloud network functions. Lastly, CSPs appreciate the ability to leverage Amdocs’ software to automate RAN coverage and capacity.


Netcracker logo

Netcracker is a subsidiary of NEC and was named the innovation leader in the competitive ranking. Netcracker leverages a model-centric strategy for network automation software, which is perfectly exemplified by the company’s Network Domain Orchestration (NDO) solution. This unifies automation layers across multiple suppliers, multiple layers, and multiple systems. Netcracker’s automation solutions automate the entire lifecycle management of the infrastructure layer, encompassing Information Technology (IT), the network, and add-on services.

What’s useful about this approach to network automation is that it means CSPs don’t have to worry about how their network is deployed. Netcracker accommodates intra-domain and cross-domain settings, as well as hybrid cloud, public cloud, and on-premises hosting environments. Moreover, Netcracker’s automation and orchestration tools are cloud/vendor-agnostic, meaning telco customers don’t have to worry about long-term lock-ins with technology brands. Netcracker has worked hard over the years to refine its automation portfolio so it’s tailored for cloud networks. This has paid off given the high-caliber CSPs that are the company's clients and its strong ranking in our competitive assessment.


Ciena company logo

Based out of Maryland, Ciena ranked third overall in our competitive assessment. Ciena’s flagship network automation platform is Blue Planet, a vendor-agnostic platform allowing them to change hardware/equipment without interoperability concerns. Blue Planet’s software tools support network automation for inventory systems, order-to-service processes, SD-WAN, 5G, Internet Protocol (IP)/Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), and other aspects of network management.

Three main features form Ciena’s network automation functionality:

  • Resource Adaption Layer: Allows for communication between the Blue Planet platform and southbound network domains. This enables automated network discovery, creating a common abstract model of the network topology and all networked resources.
  • Open Application Programming Interface (API) Adaption Layer: Lets CSPs leverage standardized  TM Forum Open APIs between Blue Planet and northbound systems (e.g., Operations Support System (OSS)/Business Support System (BSS). This allows for automated declarative orchestration of network paths to support service design, creation, and assurance.
  • Graph Correlation: Users of Ciena’s network automation software platform can use a graph correlation functionality, extending up to 15 levels of hierarchy between services and the underlying network equipment. This enables vertical integration between Blue Planet and third-party OSSs, data lake storages, Environmental Management Systems (EMSs)/Network Management Systems (NMSs), Virtual Network Functions (VNFs)/Container Network Functions (CNFs), and physical elements and devices.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)

HPE company logo

With 30+ years of experience serving the telecoms industry, Texas-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) was the fourth-ranked network automation software provider in the competitive ranking. Leveraging its Communications Technology Group (CTG), HPE has evolved its cloud-native automation tools from merely activating/provisioning physical NFs and Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, and Security (FCAPS) functionality. Today, HPE automates RAN functions and CSPs’ lifecycle management of NFs (integrating that with overlay services). This translates to telcos being able to use service policies, orchestration, and Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) analytics in a totally closed-loop manner during the design phase.

AI/ML is a big selling point of HPE’s network automation software. Advanced analytics are generated through AI/ML deployment, which is then combined with domain knowledge. The result is that CSPs can better manage the automation demands of their networks and cloud infrastructure. For instance, HPE’s Automated Assurance users can use standard data technologies to automate sophisticated pipelines for collection and data integrity checks.


Cisco company logo

San Jose, California-based Cisco has dipped its toes into the software space with its Crosswork Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) solution. Crosswork is a network automation platform that uses model-driven processes and multi-vendor interoperability to provide network programmability and maintenance for CSPs.

The main focus of the Crosswork Network Automation tool portfolio is IP and optical networking, with a Hierarchical Controller (HCO) being the key feature. HCO gives telcos a holistic approach to network automation and operations across various network/device domains.

Cisco’s network automation software draws insight from a diverse set of data points, events infrastructure, and relevant services. Moreover, the company uses model-driven telemetry for empirical testing and advanced analytics to detect network anomalies for CSPs.

Choosing the Right Partner

ABI Research assesses that the best network automation software tools and solutions share three common traits: 1) clear commercial benefits; 2) simplified functionality; and 3) vendor agnosticism. As a CSP, you need an automated solution that has demonstrated the ability to maximize network operation efficiencies. At the same time, CSPs don’t have steep expertise in software development. Therefore, it’s important to choose a partner that facilitates straightforward implementation and provides an easy-to-use interface for tool management. Finally, you want to avoid being stuck in a long-term partnership with any network equipment vendors, making it imperative that your network automation platform is compatible with a wide range of different vendors.

Learn more about where all the network automation vendors land in the market—and why—in ABI Research’s Cloud-Native Network Automation and Orchestration Software Market competitive ranking. This content is part of our 5G Core & Edge Networks Research Service.

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