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Network automation drives short-term benefits and sets a foundation for network slicing

Network automation drives short-term benefits and sets a foundation for network slicing

Network operators may reduce network operations costs by up to 65 percent using automation at the IP domain layer. Analysys Mason partnered with Nokia to conduct in depth operator interviews to reach this conclusion. In this article, we discuss our recommendations for operators looking to improve their operational efficiency, reduce costs, or considering future network-slicing based operations. This article is the third in a series that complement a webinar and published report where the research is explained in greater detail.

Operators should automate the network management processes for their IP services

Our study found there are clear benefits to operations from network automation at the domain layer. Our model estimates that a large, regional operator can avoid up to a 65 percent of costs across service fulfilment, network lifecycle management and network and service assurance processes. Our previous blogs outlined the scale of these benefits across each process category.

Operators can achieve these cost avoidance benefits by reducing labor time needed to complete repetitive manual processes. Network automation further reduces the human element, and the frequency of human error and other errors such as order fallout that require repeated work. Network automation will also benefit the operators’ agility, enabling the operator to react faster to customer demand – reducing the time-to-revenue – resolve network issues and faults quicker, and improve the mean-time-to-repair. Further benefits come from equipment efficiency (capex) and customer satisfaction (churn), among others; these benefits prove tricky to quantify and differ drastically by operator.

Operators may look to implement network automation in a staggered approach to realize the immediate benefits

The benefits from network automation will develop over time, as operators implement the automation and refine the processes. Operators may pick and choose where automation is deployed first, based on the expected benefits and ease of implementation. Our interviews suggested most operators start with specific use cases: one such operator focused on automated troubleshooting and triage as part of automating the network and service assurance processes.

In the figure below, we demonstrate how an operator may realize these benefits over a three-year period as they gradually implement network automation.

Cumulative cost avoidance from network automation over a three-year period, by process category

Cumulative cost avoidance from network automation over a three-year period, by process category

Operators should look for a network automation platform with a clear roadmap for future network slice-based services

Operators are looking to network slicing to deliver highly differentiated, on-demand services to enterprises. Each network slice will have unique service characteristics, such as bandwidth and latency, and can draw on underlying network resources. Enterprises will then be able to control and manage their own network services when needed. Demand for these slice-based networking services will grow and operators will need an efficient and cost-effective way to manage the service lifecycle. Automation in each network domain will be critical for the operator to abstract underlying domain level complexity and achieve end-to-end network slicing at scale and speed.

To achieve this level of network-slice lifecycle automation, operators will have to automate each functional element of the network, and the end-to-end service fulfilment, network lifecycle management, and network and service assurance processes. Operators network automation platforms, such as the Nokia NSP, should be built to automate the operator’s existing IP services but also provide a clear roadmap for network slice-based services and the future network-as-a-service business model.

Larry Goldman

About Larry Goldman

In his role as Chief Analyst, Larry co-ordinates Analysys Mason’s work on leading-edge topics in TMT. He also leads network and software research. For the past 20 years, he has delivered analysis and forecasts of the rapidly changing role of software in telecoms, and more recently, cloud. Before working in telecoms research, Larry held technology management roles at telecoms operators and vendors.

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Andrew Killeen

About Andrew Killeen

Andrew is a consultant based in Analysys Mason’s London office. As a technology, media, and telecom (TMT) consultant, Andrew has worked with a wide range of clients worldwide, including network operators, vendors and industry bodies. His work focuses on using market analysis, sizing, forecasting and competitive benchmarking to inform clients' planning and strategy. His project experience has ranged from 5G and the internet of things to virtualisation, cloud technologies and machine learning. Much of Andrew’s work has used original, international research, including expert interviews and consumer and enterprise surveys.

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