Fast-evolving market dynamics are shaping a growing demand for intelligent network automation both globally and within the Asia Pacific. Telecom Review Asia connects with Kailem Anderson, vice president of portfolio and engineering, Blue Planet, a division of Ciena, to find out more about telcos’ automation journey and its portfolio of solutions to help telcos chart success.
With 5G deployment accelerating and low-code development on the rise, can you tell us how network operations are changing?
With previous generations of mobile connectivity, telcos could opt to not automate. However, this does not work in a 5G era because of the complexity involved with 5G and its interface with the cloud and applications. Today, 5G and automation go hand in hand as most telcos grasp that 5G is driving a transformation in the OSS/BSS environment and that automation must be adopted for them to be successful in monetizing 5G.
Telcos are challenged to refresh their 20 to 30-year-old OSS/BSS, built originally to cater to a static world, to achieve next-generation automation for a dynamic 5G world. Telcos that retrofit existing systems to support 5G will wind up with a suboptimal experience – hence a refresh is needed to address the future of connectivity.
How can telcos in Asia leverage such solutions to advance their offerings?
Intelligent automation accelerates digital transformation and supports telcos in monetizing innovative digital services built on 5G, network slicing and a multi-cloud environment to unleash the potential of their networks by delivering innovative slice-based services and yielding optimal digital experiences.
Many of these 5G use cases revolve around delivering on-demand services where instantaneous services are expected. Such on-demand services include bandwidth-on-demand, network slicing and automating a gaming tournament with its application close to its users on-demand with automation in a world 5G associated with it. This ability to deliver on-demand to customers can transform monetization models for telcos, where customers pay for services when they need them.
These enhancements deliver end-to-end observability and control to automate service lifecycle management, improve operational agility and optimize customer experience, allowing telcos to monetize their networks in different ways and support a consumption-based economy in terms of how customers utilize technology.
Can you tell us about partnerships in the region to advance telcos’ automation journey?
We have established a number of partnerships in the region. Essentially, we offer telcos new 5G automation capabilities that include an open, productized 5G network slicing solution that incorporates end-to-end orchestration and observability for zero-touch lifecycle management and end-to-end 5G service topology to help operators plan and deploy their 5G resources quickly and efficiently. Our customers could be at different stages of this journey.
For example, we’re supporting a telco in North Asia to provide real-time visibility and control of 5G networks for end-to-end solutions, such that in the event of network degradation or congestion, our tools will enable customers to identify and implement policies to ensure closed-loop automation.
We also partner with another telco in North Asia in delivering on-demand services during holiday peak seasons, when sales traffic spikes, to ensure that their website has adequate bandwidth to cope with the increased traffic. We provide on-demand service that allows the system to pre-reserve increased capacity during holiday peak periods as customers start onboarding the website and buying. Bandwidth gets allocated dynamically to the server to enhance customer experience during that window period when the customers need it to drive positive experiences.
Using our platform, we support a telco in Singapore to automate subscribers’ onboarding journey to ensure a seamless and intuitive customer experience. The complexity behind all three use cases is simplified with automation and next-generation software to make it seamless for customers, be they enterprises or consumers.
In an increasingly digitalized landscape, what should telcos focus on to tap into new growth markets and opportunities?
In the enterprise market, network slicing is one way for telcos to monetize 5G. Depending on the region that the telco is operating, 5G will be monetized differently. In Australia, for instance, a use case that telcos will target is mining to provide private 5G. In Southeast Asia, there is a push to monetize gaming to support gaming tournaments via network slicing to guarantee SLA. And in manufacturing-based economies in the region, leveraging 5G for industrial use cases like robotics is prevalent. To support all these use cases and more, automation is a critical pillar. Essentially, each telco has to chart out its strategy based on its footprint, geographic location, as well as vertical market appeal and competency to monetize 5G.
Automation is an important journey that telcos must embark on to build a future-ready network; the timeframe is dependent on how much legacy the telco has. The notion that “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” creates the mindset of building on top of what we currently have versus taking a next-generation approach. This mindset, while prevalent in the industry, can hamper innovation.
To capture new growth opportunities, telcos must embark on their journey to automate their OSS/BSS. Since end-to-end automation usually takes a few years, it is instrumental for telcos to have a strong vision and ecosystem. I believe in taking incremental steps toward charting digital transformation as opposed to taking big steps, which potentially expose a telco to greater risks and failures. At Blue Planet, we take telcos on a guided journey that mitigates risk to ensure success in their transformation journey.