How to build a winning cloud-native strategy
Communications technology is woven into the fabric of people’s lives and work all over the globe – creating enormous demand for connectivity-based services. At the same time, customer’s expectations around speed, cost and value are putting unprecedented pressure on service providers’ businesses.
New technologies, approaches are disrupting long-established business models — and the fight to win and retain subscribers gets fiercer every day.
The scale and velocity of disruption is exponential
The days of creating value from an expanding subscriber base are gone. Traditional definitions of work, education and leisure are being disrupted at an unprecedented pace and digital-first players are attacking existing telco’s profit pools. As disruptive technologies redefine efficiency, scalability and security, there’s an urgent need to invest in digital technologies that will deliver a return.
According to James Staten, VP & Principal Analyst at Forrester,
“Telecommunications companies that maintain a focus on their traditional value propositions will be fully disrupted by 2025.”
The blueprint for fighting back disruption
Business as usual is no longer an option, because in today’s world Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are:
- Slow to adapt to changes (how long before a new offer/service can be introduced)
- Have a hard time monetizing their 5G investments and keeping pace with the latest technologies.
- Maintain many manual processes, hidden behind the scenes of “digital transformations” initiatives
The blueprint to fighting back is becoming more customer centric, redefining business models to drive top-line growth and streamline operations to optimize growth.
To do this, CSPs will need to push end-to-end automation, uncover insights that improve speed and quality of decision-making; and personalize customer experiences by creating secure, engaging and human-like digital interactions and outcomes.
In the heart of this change are open ecosystems, cloud-native architecture and a continuous delivery (CD) approach. They enable flexibility, scale and openness which are translated to better business agility and faster time to market.
But today, a CSP’s cloud is mostly private (they own it) and mostly central (in only a very few places). This approach is ok in 4G, a relatively static network. But 5G’s dynamic mix of services requires that workloads be spread across a distributed cloud.
This starts with the Radio Access Network (RAN). Compared to 4G, 5G has many more devices and uses much more bandwidth. RAN’s processing needs to shift from the tower’s base to Edge & Regional clouds, for the sake of improved efficiency and capacity. Moving the RAN’s baseband processing to the edge (RT) & regional (nRT) clouds lets you keep expenses under control by sharing cloud resources and by steering traffic, while still assuring low-latency and localized reliability.
Next look at the central cloud. The core’s user plane function, session border controller and mission critical apps shift towards devices for low latency, efficient handling of bandwidth, and localized reliability, as well as to support use-cases of scene analytics, industrial robotics, assisted driving, massive IoT scaling, etc.
The best cloud for your business might be a public cloud for handling utilization peaks or for launching a new service with fast time to market (TTM) and cost control. A hybrid cloud approach, meaning you utilize both private and public clouds, lets you optimize case-by-case decisions, across private and public clouds by balancing performance, TTM and cost.
Because this change goes beyond initial telco clouds, affecting design and operations, the question is, where do you start?
Open is the new cloud model
The way in which applications, networks and services will be built in the future is changing rapidly. The new era of the cloud is built on openness in which vendors work with third parties who take full responsibility for the end-to-end solutions they deliver. Collaboration is the most effective way to accelerate innovation. Trying to lock customers into vertically integrated solutions is not the way forward.
Open source is one important part of the openness, but there’s more to it. Standardization remains important for our industry as means to secure interoperability between different functions and implementations (i.e. a key enabler for multi-vendor environments). In addition, open hardware and reference architectures are becoming increasingly important.
Listen to a replay of a recent Linkedin Live conversation I had on this topic with Google Cloud’s Max Kamenetsky.
And if you’d like to learn more – please join me in a breakout session titled “Delivering 5G networks and ecosystems with distributed cloud” at the upcoming Google Next ’21 conference.