The Cable Story, Part 2: Thoughts on How to Reinvent the Cable Network
In my previous post, I talked about the ‘cable story’ and the steps service providers need to take, today, in order to leverage their competitive asset – the cable network — and to gain tactical and strategic business advantages.
In this post, I will expand on one of these steps – namely, the reinventing the cable network, and how velocity and agility are achievable for cable providers.
The cable network today is rigid and complex. This is not surprising, considering the six-plus decades that this industry spans, and the volume of consolidations and acquisitions that happened since the 1950s. This rigidity and complexity has had a negative impact on cable operations and profitability. It limits responsiveness to market requirements, thus exposing revenues and customers to more agile competitors. It also increases the difficulty and cost of maintenance and restricts the evolution of the infrastructure to support new services. In short, this can’t continue.
New cloud, virtualization and SaaS technologies have evolved in the last few years that can create a more flexible and efficient network for cable providers. Business-wise, there’s huge promise for this industry because of its potential is to improve crucial business factors — like gaining agility, controlling CapEx and reducing OpEx. The key factor in this list is business agility, with DevOps and continuous innovation/continuous delivery (CI/CD) methodologies that today are used primarily by the web industry.
The ability to be agile and in a continual state of innovation translates into rapid responses to customer needs, quick adaptation to market changes and the speed to capture new opportunities. New opportunities, for example, can mean the potential to wholesale part of the cable network to others (like backhaul to mobile providers). In order to take the full advantage of this opportunity, enhancements to the cable network are needed. This just cannot be done on the existing, rigid cable network.
So let’s picture what this “reinvented cable network” looks like. The cloud will take a prime role in it — whether public, private or hybrid. It will be used for non-real-time computing — usually applications that are offered aaS (as a Service), like video control plane or big data analytics. Regional data centers will continue to exist, and will be used for near-real-time applications, like video processing or automation. Edge computing is the new kid in the block, and will host real-time data processing and applications, particularly for apps that require microsecond to millisecond response times (like gaming).
But all of this is worth very little if the core components of the cable network don’t transform as well. I’m talking about transforming into cloud-native applications – virtualized, running on standard servers, in highly efficient data centers, with micro services and modular architectures, and with automated management and dynamic scaling. Good examples for these “core cable network” components are the cloud CMTS and the QAM.
It’s indeed a vision to fight for, that profits today’s providers, and prepares them for tomorrow.
Cisco shares this vision, and is launching solutions designed to hit just right.
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