The United Nations has declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. In an alternate Telecom universe, ‘Pulses’ could denote everything that ‘Service Orchestration’ stands for. There are quite many parallels between both. For example, Pulses play a key role in the process of crop rotation because of the ability to fix nitrogen in soil and in the food chain through protein contribution. Similarly, an unified service orchestration platform will play a key role in the telecommunications industry because of their ability to capture, design and automate network operations and simplify swivel-chair management routines. Software has moved to a new state of agile, flexible and opportunistic and this year will see providers adopting ‘open’ platforms to build and support multiple business models.
Regardless of geographical regions, Pulses form a crucial part of diet around the globe. Likewise, networks are demographically distributed heterogeneous environments, grown organically and through acquisitions, over time. What’s crucial to the diet growth here is the unification of service management and orchestration of multi-vendor networks.
So with the connections that cannot be ignored, the Year of Pulses has begun. Here’s what WebNMS predicts to be the pulse of Telecom Industry for the year 2016.
1. Innovation trumps stability
Telecom network operators have always relied on technology but have often taken a conservative approach, valuing somewhat inefficient stability from antiquated systems over improvements through risky innovation. This conservatism has tied telco networks to proprietary solution silos from their equipment and IT vendors. Faced with a rising tide of user expectations from the flood of OTT services, telcos have now shifted their priority to streamlining their operations, improving the customer experience with real-time, agile services. To shift toward this new operations model, network owners will look beyond their traditional technology suppliers and seek out innovation. In 2016, this innovation quest will lead telcos down new technology paths, often along trails blazed by smaller, visionary vendors on a mission to disrupt the status quo.
2. OEM orchestration evolves into pseudo-SDN controllers
In 2015, telcos interest in multi-vendor service orchestration solutions surged. Driven by this customer interest, many equipment vendors have invested in their own software platforms to deliver end-to-end service orchestration. This long list of vendor solutions includes in-house developments at Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper as well as technology acquisitions such as Cisco/Tail-f, Ciena/Cyan and Huawei/Amartus. In 2016, despite the best of intentions, these OEMs will realize that their captive technology will not satisfy the mandatory multi-vendor requirement. The operators will look to ISVs to provide a true multi-vendor service orchestration layer. Nevertheless, this layer will need to be integrated through APIs with the network control plane. To minimize the integration costs of their own equipment into this new architecture, the end-to-end OEM software platforms will evolve into pseudo-SDN controllers that present the orchestration layer with an open API that abstracts away their underlying equipment. This will drive increased collaboration between OEM software and ISV orchestration solutions in the coming year.
3. Virtual interoperability
To differentiate with Network Function Virtualization (NFV), network operators need end-to-end, automated service provisioning and assurance that unifies the geographic reach of their physical networks with the elastic virtual machines hosted in the cloud. In the coming year, telcos will chain orchestrated WAN network services, such as MEF Carrier Ethernet, with data center SDN services. By flexibly chaining these dynamic services, telcos will offer agile, assured business services that OTT providers without their own network will find difficult to match. Longer term, dynamic service chaining will drive the need for certified NFV interoperability – enabling an efficient market for the exchange of network services.