Decommissioning Legacy Networks
Every time I read a trade article or go to an event, it’s always about some new breakthrough in telecoms technology or service delivery: NFV, SDN, 400G, SD-WAN, E-VPN, Alien Superchannels, CDC-F. The list goes on and on. You’d think consumers are more demanding than ever and that service providers are rapidly evolving their networks to keep up.
Well, this is only partially true. There are many customers who are quite happy with their legacy services, including the old TDM services. They say: the heck with newer and faster services. We like what we have :-)
You’d think this would be a good thing. But, it’s really not. It’s forcing service providers to keep old networks alive, even those well past their prime (and then some), to support legacy services. And, this is causing problems. Spares and maintenance for the legacy networks are growing more and more scarce and expensive. So, what to do? This is where intelligent decommissioning comes in.
The Intelligent Decommissioning Concept
The aim of intelligent decommissioning is to seamlessly migrate services from old platforms to new platforms which continue to support legacy services, when the cost of supporting services on the old platforms has become excessive and/or obtaining and maintaining spares is no longer realistic.
With this approach, end users wouldn’t feel a change in the operational performance of their services because the transport technology for their services will not have changed. As mentioned, services would continue to be transported natively and not migrated to packet or circuit emulated.
Controlling migration from old to new platforms results in several advantages:
- Pays for itself – the cost of the new equipment is paid for by the savings made in OPEX. The project could either be charged as a CAPEX investment to achieve OPEX savings or the costs could be absorbed into the OPEX budget, resulting in ongoing OPEX savings without a CAPEX investment.
- Substantial Operational Savings – newer equipment uses much less power per transported bit. This means a massive reduction in operations costs associated with powering the equipment and the air conditioning required to remove the heat generated.
- Huge Space Savings – newer equipment is much smaller per transported bit. This translates into large amounts of space freed up in the operations rooms and operations savings depending on how the space is priced.
- Creation of spares – as nodes are decommissioned, the cards are reclaimed as spares to support the remaining end of life equipment in the network.
- Network rationalization - in migrating the services from the old nodes to the new network there is an opportunity for rationalization. This results in opportunities to collapse the total number of nodes required and tidy-up service paths that have become fragmented over the lifetime of the network.
- Reduction in repair and maintenance costs – as the number of nodes is reduced the repair and maintenance cost associated with maintaining these nodes also reduces.
- Network optimized, ready for migration or turn-off – in performing the intelligent decommissioning process an accurate service inventory is developed for the network. When the service provider decides to “turn-off” the legacy services entirely, they still have a clear idea of the active operational services supported by the network. This information can be used to ease the process of migrating these customers to a new service platform.
- New services – Newer equipment supports the newer packet services as well as the legacy services. In performing intelligent decommissioning the service provider can enhance its network, provide new services and generate new revenues, all while reducing OPEX. As legacy services decline, the new equipment is able to support more packet services, extending the life and benefit of installing it.
Intelligent decommissioning should result in a considerable OPEX savings. Be sure to agree on a baseline of existing costs and a means to measure the savings. This will show the return on investment and the proof of success.
A final thought: intelligent decommissioning provides service providers with competitive differentiation. Unlike those dropping legacy services like a hot potato, service providers who adopt intelligent decommissioning are able to gain the new, while still supporting the old school. Offering the best of both worlds may be the golden ticket.