Telco cloud transformation and hybrid network management
Analysys Mason recently undertook research on behalf of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) on the impact of NFV/SDN telco cloud transformation on communications service provider (CSP) operations. The full results of our study are available in a white paper.
The benefits that CSPs will reap from telco cloud transformation (improved service agility and cost structures and enablement of a broad array of digital services) will accrue over 5-10 years or more of hybrid network management as CSPs evolve from physical to virtual infrastructure and automate the network operations lifecycle, says Dana Cooperson, head of networks-focused software systems research at Analysys Mason.
Orchestration (phase 2) is critical to improved operations
Our research indicates that most CSPs will implement the NFV/SDN telco cloud transformation (referred to as ‘telco cloud transformation’ in the rest of this post) in three distinct phases: virtualisation (phase 1), orchestration (phase 2) and cloud native (phase 3).
CSPs will implement most of the major operations process changes in phase 2, during which the number of VNFs will increase substantially and will no longer be limited to low-risk functions. CSPs will begin orchestrating VNFs in service chains and will reap the benefits of automation. Managing and automating hybrid physical/virtual, multi-vendor, multi-domain networks and processes will be their key challenge.
CSPs require process changes throughout the operations lifecycle
Figure 1 illustrates the various elements of CSPs’ operations lifecycle. Our CSP executive interviews verified that although the entire lifecycle is ripe for process improvements, reforming the procurement process is critical now.
Figure 1: Elements in the lifecycle of network virtualisation operations [Source: Analysys Mason, 2016]
- For service creation processes to become more agile, current practices must evolve through the orchestration phase into a continuous, highly automated process based on templates and information models.
- Classic order management and inventory management systems will evolve to, or be replaced by, more sophisticated, automated service orchestration capabilities that provide more direct customer control over ordering and better integration with service assurance systems.
- Network virtualisation software procurement may remain a lengthy process through phase 3, due to regulatory imperatives and the complexity of ensuring compatibility and compliance of hybrid infrastructure.
- Provisioning will be automated based on policy and performance requirements detailed in service descriptions; acceptance testing will likely be integrated with VNF onboarding. Complete, automated flow-through provisioning will be challenging before the cloud native phase.
- CSPs will invest in dynamic and converged service fulfilment and service assurance systems and processes that will be finalised only in the later stages of phase 2.
Verifying during the procurement process that different pieces of software from different vendors work together glitch-free is a key stumbling block to telco cloud transformation.
To transform the procurement process, a few large CSPs are investing heavily in vendor-neutral integration platforms; participating in open-source software initiatives; and creating and participating in multi-vendor ecosystems.
Only the largest and most aggressive CSPs can afford to invest in such a range of activities or seek to develop telco cloud transformation as a key competency. For the majority of CSPs, systems integrators—including network orchestration vendors— will help CSPs shrink telco cloud transformation time and expense.
To reap the most benefits from their telco cloud transformations, CSPs should target a few ‘quick wins’ to gain revenue and experience early on; actively manage the telco cloud transformation from the start to meet clear business objectives; and in phase 2 focus on transforming processes that directly support business outcomes.
The author of this blog is Dana Cooperson, head of networks-focused software systems research at Analysys Mason.
Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @ VanillaPlus OR @jcvplus