Digital Transformation: Telcos Face the Future

Stan Hubbard

Telcos are looking to build, agile assured and orchestrated communications services for the digital economy, and those goals were in focus at the recently wrapped MEF18 event in Los Angeles.

In the second of a two-part series, MEF18 sponsors and key members of the organization discuss how MEF's work impacts their business, SD-WAN and the digital transformation. (For part one, see Digital Transformation: Telecom Executives Sound Off .)

Speaking with MEF were Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T); Shahar Steiff, AVP New Technologies, PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008); and Eric Cevis, senior vice president and group president, Verizon Partner Solutions.

MEF: How important is the role of MEF, including the MEF 3.0 global services framework, in addressing your business pain points and driving transformation?

Pacewicz: MEF is very important, especially at this point where inter-carrier APIs are defined. This will help smooth the interactions between carriers, driving toward automation, and ultimately deliver a better customer experience.

Steiff: MEF is well positioned to lead the efforts of developing a collaborative approach. It has a large SP membership, it has developed the technical definitions of connectivity services that include both intra-carrier and inter-carrier options. It has developed the LSO reference architecture and inter-carrier process definitions which are two of the three fundamental building blocks that drive transformation. With the right focus, MEF is in a position to lead the industry towards collaboration. For that, MEF needs to re-focus its efforts on building an industry-wide unified information model and enhance the LSO architecture to address all three building blocks for services: Connectivity, Storage and Compute.

Cevis: Automating end-to-end service ordering, provisioning and assurance is important to our business. MEF 3.0 allows us to interoperate with other operators to accomplish these goals.

MEF: How important is the ability to orchestrate dynamic SD-WAN, Carrier Ethernet, and other services across multiple provider networks?

Pacewicz: There is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on what a company's site types and needs are, hybrid connectivity is essential. It allows customers to pick the WAN configuration for each site type that optimizes performance and cost, while focusing on delivering the best experience for their employees and customers.

Companies combine MPLS or dedicated Internet connections and pair it with a cheaper shared Internet connection to balance reliability and cost. That configuration coupled with SD-WAN lets the customer dynamically choose which of the WAN connections to use.

Steiff: It is evident that even the largest carriers rely on resources that are operated by other carriers. Orchestration of services that are limited to the organic offering of a carrier does not yield the commercial benefits of transformation. Thus, the ability to orchestrate services across multiple provide networks is critical to the success of transformation of each and every carrier, big or small. One needs to keep in mind, though, that SD-WAN is not a telco-service. It is an OTT service that is trying to overcome the inability of the telco industry to align around a unified development method towards delivery of managed services. Once the telco industry has developed the ability to orchestrate and manage services across multiple domains, SD-WAN will become obsolete. I view it as an interim solution that fills the void caused by telcos' lack of ability to develop a collaborative multi-domain federated orchestration approach.

Cevis: We believe that cross-carrier network orchestration is extremely important, which is why we worked so hard to pull together our proof of concept demonstration with Colt Technology Services Group Ltd in London earlier this year, the first time that two-way inter carrier SDN network orchestration was showcased anywhere in the world. We were able to demonstrate near-real-time bandwidth changes in each other's production networks, marking an important step in enabling real-time cross-carrier automation.

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12/27/2018 | 8:37:33 AM
Not clear about SD-WAN...
I always regarded SD-WAN as carrier network technology, and he told it comes from OTT. Maybe I don't understand something?
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