Ahead of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in Chicago last week, Heavy Reading conducted a survey of telecom operators on a number of topics, including the concept of "the New IP." Encouragingly, more than two thirds of respondents were at least "somewhat familiar" with the New IP and its implications for network operator transformation.
The main benefit cited by respondents was "network flexibility." This suggests that suppliers' messages of virtualization and automation are resonating within the telecom community. Service agility was the next most commonly cited benefit. This, to me, is even more important in terms of the potential impact on the market. Technology for technology's sake doesn't benefit anyone; it is only useful when it can improve business outcomes. Making the connection between technology and business benefits will be a key challenge for the industry as we move forward.
When asked about the biggest challenges their company faces in moving to the New IP, the change in emphasis from network to software rated the highest. Perhaps this is not surprising, given that the telecom industry has historically focused on providing robust hardware to support specific services. Telecom operators have chafed under the lock-in this model provided, feeling their ability to rapidly respond to changing market dynamics was constrained.
With the New IP, services are created and managed via software on open platforms, using agile development processes that allow telcos to operate at the speed of OTT and hyperscale competitors. The "consumerization" of the enterprise means that now, all of a telco's customer base wants -- and expects -- all applications and services to be personalized and available at any time, on any device. This is precisely the situation the New IP is geared to address.
"Identifying or creating the right ecosystem to support the transition to the New IP" also rated well. Telcos understand that the New IP brings with it an ethos of openness and collaboration. I see this playing out in the building participation and momentum in numerous open source projects, such as OpenDaylight and OPNFV. While the New IP threatens to up-end old ways of doing business, it also brings the potential to unleash innovation from new participants. Indeed, a plurality of respondents indicated they would "look for new technology partners to provide our New IP ecosystem."
I have been an industry analyst for more than 15 years, and I don't recall ever seeing so much excitement and energy across so many dimensions of the telecom market. I hope telcos will maintain the pressure on their suppliers to embrace the New IP. The innovation it is generating will transform the market to the benefit of suppliers, service providers and, most importantly, their customers.
— Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading