Telco Digital Transformation - Part 2
Aiming for a Bigger Piece of the Pie
In Part 1 this blog I identified three phases of digital transformation evolution: dynamic delivery of telecommunications services, delivering and facilitating edge-cloud services, and becoming a complete digital services provider.
Network modernization is the ongoing process of telcos to ensure their networks are equipped with the highest performance and most efficient telecommunications technologies. This has benefited us as users with continuous increases in bandwidth and capabilities, while prices have remained more or less constant. Network modernization is occurring on two major fronts.
- Packet-optical networks combine the flexibility of Ethernet and other computer communication technologies with the massive information carrying capacity of glass fibers. They move on the order of 5 Giga-Giga-Giga bytes of data around the globe daily.
- Mobile networks let us off the leash, to benefit from the global Internet wherever we may be. We are now at the early stages of a 5th generation mobile network that promises faster speeds, faster response times, and an ability to handle a massive number of Internet of Things devices.
Cloudification is the migration of applications and data from local installations to virtualized, software-defined, cloud-based equivalents. It is telcos adopting the models of their over-the-top competitors to create agile and streamlined, control and service delivery infrastructures. Cloudification initiatives include:
- Software-defined networking. This moves communications intelligence from the network equipment to a centralized control plane. It adds agility to the network to respond dynamically to customer connectivity demands and to optimize resource use for changing traffic patterns.
- This delivers various communications functions in software, on top of standard computing platforms, rather than using dedicated hardware. Virtualization enables best-of-breed software capabilities to be deployed quickly wherever they are needed in the network, as well as creating and delivering customized end-users services. Virtualization at the network edge underlies delivering edge-cloud services.
- Cloud native software architectures. This provides a separation of concerns between software applications, development and run-time environments, and the underlying networking and computing infrastructure. Cloud native enables the continuous delivery of new services and functionality, without being bound by cumbersome release schedules.
Automation is the use of software algorithms for configuring and controlling the network, and delivering end-user services. It operates on top of the first two “ions” – a modernized network that employs a cloudified control and service delivery infrastructure. Automation reduces the need for human intervention saving on costs, it speeds up response times and improves process accuracy, both of which improve customer satisfaction, and through continuous optimization of resources it saves on materials and energy.
What is really exciting, is that over time, automation algorithms will start to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning. This will be applied to the full range of telco operations, for example, from using chatbots for customer interactions, to finding optimum connection paths through the network.
In summary, telcos through digital transformation, are improving how our world stays connected, and are also carving out exciting new businesses for themselves that builds on top of this connectivity.