A new Heavy Reading report says communications service providers face a stark new reality in the need to adopt automation immediately, in every aspect of their businesses, or face extinction.
The telecom industry also needs to shift its thinking and stop considering automation as "a cost and efficiency strategy," states Telecom Automation: Heavy Reading Perspectives, authored by seven analysts. Instead, network operators need to see automated networks as essential to the automation of everything around them, by their customers and competitors.
And while acknowledging that automation has been part of telecom's game plan for decades, the Heavy Reading analysts note that "rather than a gradual and controlled evolution, automation is now a full-on mutation with a limitless capacity for disruption." CSPs are hardly driving the automation train, it states, in fact, they are at great risk for falling behind as the "rest of the world is plunging headlong into an autonomous future" if they continue at their self-chosen pace.
The process won't be simple -- one of the key findings of the report is that there are no easy answers or shortcuts to building an autonomous network. Even in spaces like the business and operations support system (B/OSS) arena, where network operators have been wrestling for decades with automation and integration. However, there is no longer any time to waste in just getting the job done, the report concludes.
Yet it's not all gloom and doom. In looking at every angle of the industry, the Heavy Reading Perspectives piece sees some reasons for hope. For example, the Internet of Things and 5G represent clear drivers and compelling opportunities for accelerating automation, and moving to the cloud is a key enabler for next-gen mobile network automation.
And there are some signs of progress, namely efforts such as AT&T's ECOMP initiative -- now part of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) -- have reaped dividends in shrinking service deployment times from weeks to minutes. The speed with which the industry has embraced software-defined WAN services is also seen as encouraging.
But the general message in the 40-page report is a blunt one: When it comes to automation, network operators need to be moving faster, or find themselves left behind.
The report covers IoT and emerging technologies, B/OSS, analytics, NFV and orchestration, mobile networks and 5G and network security in looking at automation challenges and opportunities.
In coming days, we'll be taking a closer look at some other details from this exhaustive report about automation in telecom.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading