It’s accepted knowledge across industries that companies that don’t undergo a digital transformation will find it difficult to survive in the coming decade. Legacy technology simply can’t support the performance and virtualization that businesses need to operate efficiently and provide modern products and services to their customers.
But demand for modern infrastructure really begins upstream, with the Communications Service Providers (CoSPs) that own the networks powering business connectivity. The problem is that many large CoSPs are still operating on a wide range of proprietary, legacy technologies themselves. These technologies require a large number of people to maintain and operate them. In addition, these technologies deliver network speeds and responsiveness that are less-than-optimal for the businesses downstream.
To start the transformation process based on this starting point, CoSPs have the seemingly insurmountable task of becoming virtualization experts, sorting through hundreds of vendors and products to architect the ideal infrastructure, and implementing the new technology in an optimal way, all without disrupting existing services.
More realistically, CoSPs need a reliable, knowledgeable partner to help them set a digital transformation strategy, prioritize and select technologies, and undergo digital transformation in a way that sets them up for success.
5 Key Focus Areas
CoSPs’ most pressing need (and opportunity) is to infuse infrastructure with more cloud technology to make it faster, more responsive and more automated. To do so, they need to adopt a significant amount of compute and virtualization technology across nearly every aspect of their infrastructure, starting with the following five areas:
- CoSP cloud – Central Offices need to evolve beyond physical appliances to provide cloud-based services to customers. This means upgrading to virtual appliances, then implementing virtual network functions, including software-defined networking (SDN). This will serve as a mechanism to stitch services together as well as help scale the networking topology between virtual functions.
- Next-gen access – Today’s companies need higher bandwidth to support their day-to-day operations and provide products and services in a fast and reliable way to their own customers. Providing next-gen access typically means migrating from static and expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) virtual private network (VPN) circuits and physical customer premise equipment (CPE) nodes to more virtualized CPE nodes and secure access technologies, along with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).
- Operations and business support systems (OSS/BSS) transformation – CoSPs need to make it faster and easier to launch new services to customers by incorporating automation and telemetry and ensuring the systems they use to deliver network-based services have application plug in (API) -driven capabilities.
- Edge computing – To deliver services more rapidly across widespread markets, CoSPs will need to adopt enterprise edge computing in the next 12-18 months. There are a number of approaches for doing this, from evolving the Central Office with architectures such as Central Office Architected as a Data Center (CORD), to building an edge services cloud incorporating capabilities such as multi-access edge computing (MEC) to the evolution of the edge outside of existing physical facilities with modular data centers.
- 5G infrastructure – When 5G becomes available in the next 18-36 months, CoSPs will be tasked with a new set of challenges. The requirements of 5G are roughly between 100-1000 times the performance and scale of 4G, at 1/1000th the latency, with significantly different economics on the monetization and operations. SDN will no longer be contained within the Central Offices, and CoSPs will need to embrace end-to-end SDN principles, such as network slicing. Network functions virtualization (NFV) will no longer be a centralized function running inside a virtual machine (VM), but inside containers or even running on top of bare metal.
The Partner CoSPs Need
Dell EMC makes digital transformation much easier for CoSPs. Not only are we a worldwide leader in compute and cloud-enabled IT infrastructure, we have the partnership framework in place to strategically and holistically guide CoSPs through the process of modernization across all five key areas.
Our experts give CoSPs the technology and tools to assemble the right combination of infrastructure and service capabilities to serve their business customers and remain competitive for years to come. Dell EMC’s focus on open-standards-based, disaggregated architecture means CoSPs won’t relive the mistakes of the past, trading proprietary solutions and vendor lock-in for a flexible, future-ready, scalable architecture.
The harsh reality is that most CoSPs won’t achieve the levels of virtualization and optimization they need without the right partner on their side. Dell EMC is poised to play a pro-active role in reshaping the future for service providers as they achieve digital transformation and provide the modern technology that will power the coming evolution of business.