For All Things TR-069

The market for TR-069 compliant devices and ACS (management systems) is being driven by service providers at three broad stages of adoption:
Service providers in the early stages of TR-069 adoption representing the largest part of unit volume are seeking to create heterogeneous device pools that can (a) be subjected to common management (procedures, protocols and equipment), (b) have firmware remotely updated, and (c) provide support personnel with access to device status and configuration parameters.

TR-069 provides the basis for common management by defining a common set of methods to work with a formalized data model.  It is not adequate to simply call for TR-069 compliance and most well funded procurements examine offered solutions for:

     •  Strict compliance with the base standards.

     •  Compliance with the standard for vendor specific extensions.

     •  Comprehensive mapping of native device parameters.

     •  ACS procedures required to ensure integrity of updated device parameters.

     •  ACS procedures required to effect firmware upgrades.

     •  Dependencies on any “extensions” to the standard.

Generally, the objective during early stage adoption is to minimize the operational differences between similar devices from different manufacturers or different product families from the same manufacturer.

Remote firmware update is often seen by the service provider as the primary reason for adopting TR-069.  Firmware update procedures are device dependent because of limitations in mapping from TR-069 instructions to the software structure of the underlying device.  Any device differences must be resolved in the CWMP Client, arguing for a common CWMP across device types, or in the ACS operating procedures.

Providing support personnel with access to device parameters and device configuration control are recurring themes with requirements getting more sophisticated with time.  Early stage requirements generally defer device configuration controls and call for read/write access to device parameters allowing support personnel to observe the current configuration and make changes without requiring the end-user to relay information to/from the device - a process with extremely high error rates.
Larger service providers typically use the northbound interface of the ACS to integrate access to device configuration parameters into existing help desk and provisioning systems.

Most contemporary ACSs are designed for low intensity surveillance with relatively infrequent contact with each device to collect performance data.  High intensity surveillance designed to pro-actively detect service problems is sometimes offered as a premium service to specific business segments, e.g., banking.  Problems are often detected by the absence of an expected event such as a device not contacting the ACS within a certain interval.

Established users face the challenge of introducing new (different) devices to gain access to the latest features/functions.  Typically, new features/functions are not standardizes until they become widely available.  Vendor specific extensions to the (parameter) data model are permitted by the standard allowing individual vendors to innovate with the benefits of a comprehensive management structure.  With the Gatespace CWMP Client extending the data models is a simple process that enables new features to be implemented in new or existing (installed) devices.
Earlier requirements addressed the need for support personnel to have direct read/write access to status and configuration parameters.   Features responding to these requirements significantly improve the speed and accuracy of fault detection/correction but do not address the root cause of most problems - configuration confusion/errors by the end user.  Well established adopters are now removing the traditional device resident configuration tools and replacing them with network-based configuration tools that allow the service provider to offer a consistent user interface for multiple devices (models and manufacturers) that are more user friendly, more intelligent and capable of verification before being committed in the device.  The Gatespace CWMP Client provides extensive support allowing tools of this type to validate proposed configuration changes before commitment and, in the event of validation failure, report the cause of failure.
We anticipate future requirements in three areas: gateway resident applications, automated diagnostics and LAN device support.  Most future requirements appear to be in areas that allow service providers to offer revenue generating service options to subscribers.
There is a class of applications that reside in the gateway device providing services to devices and users on the LAN.  These applications are activated/deactivated by the service provider from a provisioning system communicating with the target device via the northbound interface of the ACS.  Once activated, the services are controlled by the end-user (password protected LAN administrator) through network-based service management systems.

Services in this class generally control the LAN user’s experience based on the device being used (i.e., specific PC) or the user’s identity based as determined by a logon sequence.  The service provider is free to customize services for specific markets and specific levels of market maturity.  This can be important in minimizing the need for end-users to absorb unfamiliar concepts as new services are introduced.  It could, for example, be advantageous to introduce applications that control the user experience based only on the particular device being used and then add controls based on user identity as a higher tier service or a deeper configuration option.  Examples of applications in this class are:
The objective of Access Control is to restrict the time(s) of day or total time in a day that a user or device can access the internet.   This application is usually positioned as a parental control.  The most common usage is in defining a weekly access schedules, one per device, with none, one or more access intervals defined for each day of the week.  An alternative usage is to define the amount of time that access is permitted each day of the week.  Exceptional access can be given by the LAN administrator (e.g., parent) granting x minutes of access in the next 24 hours to accommodate special needs.
Content Filtering allows the LAN administrator (e.g., parent or employer) to define the categories of web content that are appropriate for the LAN device or LAN user to access.  URL requests are compared to a knowledge base of known web site characteristics in real time.   Web sites with inappropriate characteristics (as defined by the rules for the device or user) are blocked.  Rules can be fine tuned by adding web sites (URL) to a device/user-specific white (appropriate) and black (inappropriate) lists.  The most common use of content filtering is to allow access to all web content EXCEPT web sites that are categorized as inappropriate.  The logic can be inverted to exert tight controls for young children.  In this case access is blocked to all web sites EXCEPT those that have been specifically reviewed and found to be young-child appropriate.
Router and firewall configuration are one of the most common causes of gateway configuration errors and end-user confusion.  This service enables the end-user to define rules in terms of specific application names and device names.  Conflicting rules are detected before being committed to the gateway (router) thereby eliminating a large category of service call.  The service is supplied with a table of ports used by known applications.  This table is continuously updated to reflect new applications as they become known.   Applications, most commonly games, not known in the port table can still be configured by reverting to the raw port information.
Automated diagnostics allow the service provider to offer premium monitoring services to clients with mission critical broadband connections and to rigorously monitor problematic services.  At the simplest level services are monitored for availability and quality (error rates) at a higher than normal frequency.  In the longer term we expect service providers to require that the ACS respond to reports of unusual/undesirable conditions by automatically initiating diagnostic procedures and assembling packages of evidence prior to raising alarms and/or trouble tickets.
TR-069 is designed for the management of gateway devices and devices downstream from the gateway connected to the end-user’s LAN.   Contemporary ACS and device level products address the service provider’s immediate needs to manage gateway devices.  Clearly there is a need for remote management of LAN connected devices by corporate IT functions and IT management service providers. We anticipate requirements in this area to include extending the broadband service provider’s management of gateway devices and gateway resident applications to include high-level device management functions delivered through the ACS northbound interface.