What Does Automation Mean to You?

Ray Le Maistre
10/17/2017
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With its promise of greater efficiencies and agility, automation is driving many network operator strategies these days -- that much is evident from quantifiable industry research and from the very public announcements being made by the biggest names in the telecoms world.

The research was undertaken by Heavy Reading (the smart arm of the Light Reading empire): Operator respondents were asked to identify the three most important aspects of digital transformation, and 143 of the 150 service providers surveyed earlier this year cited process automation. Virtualization came in second with 130 votes. (See Process Automation Tops Carriers' Goals for NFV.)

By that time, AT&T had already folded its ECOMP (Enhanced Control Orchestration, Management and Policy) code, developed during the past few years, into an open source project called ONAP, or Open Network Automation Platform -- the name says it all. (See MANO Marriage: ECOMP, OPEN-O Converge as ONAP.)

And, as we know, ONAP is not just for AT&T. (See ONAP Adds Equinix, Five Vendors and Vodafone Pushes ONAP Over Key Threshold.)

Add to that the big names behind the formation of an automation industry body -- China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, Telefónica to name the major operators -- and the following reports and thoughts from just the past few days:

Operators are right at the beginning of the automation journey and, as much as anything, need to talk through, and collaborate on, the potential use cases for automation and how it can be introduced into existing service provider businesses. That is actually the key focus of the automation group being set up within ETSI.

But anyone and everyone should be discussing and contributing to this topic, and I'd like to see as many folks as possible gather for a morning of debate, deliberation and coffee (a critical element) in London on November 2, when Light Reading will be hosting its first Automation & the New Carrier Network session.

We have a great line-up of operator, vendor and analyst participants and will be looking for an interactive morning during which we can get really stuck into this important topic and feed some insights and views back into the industry.

It's free to attend for anyone in the industry -- it would be great to see you there. And as it's a morning-only session, the debate can continue afterwards during a traditional lunchtime "session" for anyone that fancies a pint in a central London hostelry. I might even buy the first round...

— Ray Le Maistre, International Group Editor, Light Reading

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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/22/2017 | 10:24:22 AM
Re: It's the right question...
@Chief: And even with open-standards orgs, those silos perpetuate as battle lines get drawn and carriers participate in their preferred ones while avoiding the ones of their primary rivals -- preventing true standardization.

I'm with Ray. The debate will be loud and long for these very reasons. And we'll continue to see different definitions, different "standards", and so on. It's like that XKCD comic about standards.
ShoshanaS
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ShoshanaS,
User Rank: Light Beer
10/22/2017 | 12:15:50 AM
Re: It's the right question...
Oh yep. Stuck on the unhipness of the terminology.
Ray@LR
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Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
10/18/2017 | 8:36:08 AM
Re: It's the right question...
I suspect that SOME of the lack of reference to OSS may be a desire not to use what is sometimes deemed to be a 'legacy reference' but iot's clear also, for example, that specific calls to get network operations and OSS people involved in the conversation means there's a realization that folks with domian knowledge in that area are essential to any implementation of automated processes.

The debate will be loud and long! :-)
ChiefMar76368
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ChiefMar76368,
User Rank: Lightning
10/18/2017 | 6:45:59 AM
It's the right question...
It was clear from the SDN event in The Hague last week that there's a lot of talking-at-cross-purposes going in in relation to "automation" right now. There's a danger that the industry conversations stay within their traditional silos however. The lack of much reference to OSS in The Hague suggests as much - so LightReading's London event (and focus) is very timely and welcome. 
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