brian shodaLast month Brian Shoda, a 12 year veteran of Cisco and most recently the director of Cisco’s IP NGN architecture sales for the Asia Pacific theatre, sat for an interview with Telecom Asia magazine. During the interview he discussed the impact of programmability on the network and why dynamically configuring services is important for telecom operators. Since some of our global audience doesn’t read Telecom Asia magazine they’ve graciously allowed us to reprint the interview.

1. [Telecom Asia] What are the key trends driving the transition in SP networking?

[Brian Shoda] Over the past several years, service provider networking has primarily focused on cost reduction through network optimization and revenue generation and the development of new and innovative products. However, recently with the explosion of mobile data traffic growth many operators have struggled to control capital expenditures as they scale their networks to support demand, often diverting capital from product development to ensure the on-going scalability of the infrastructure. In many markets, this has led to the stagnation of innovation and the commoditization of network services, which, in turn has lowered revenues and reduced margins as operators compete on price to maintain and grow their customer bases.

Other factors such as the emergence of the Internet of Things and Machine to Machine communications are forcing operators to re-think how their infrastructures are being leveraged and the importance of their networks. Increasing the modern connected life is becoming reliant on cost effective, adaptable, scalable and robust operator networks. Network programmability, Network virtualization, IP and Optical convergence are all trends that aim to facilitate the operator to transition to truly intelligent next generation networks.

2. [Telecom Asia] Given the surge in data growth, and unpredictable demand why is programmability important for telcos?

[Brian Shoda] The massive uptake of mobile services, the growing demand for high speed residential broadband, and the proliferation of services such as HD video, interactive gaming, and social media are  heavily influencing the approach operators need to take in consideration of networks, systems, and processes. The current industry interest in network programmability focuses on the need for operators to transform their current network platforms from a heterogeneous suite of loosely coupled network and software elements into tightly integrated and well defined eco systems of network functionalities. The ultimate goal of seamless automated interaction between the network infrastructure and new streams of revenue impacting future profitability.

The new frontier of network programmability opens a whole new generation of products and services for operators. It is these products and services that operators will use to bridge the divide between the costs of continually scaling their infrastructures to meet demand, and the need to seek new profitable revenue streams.

3. [Telecom Asia] What is the impact on services telcos can offer, if they are able to dynamically configure the network?

[Brian Shoda] The concept of dynamically configuring a network is not new. Automated CLI interaction, the use of software APIs and deep OSS/BSS integration are common place. However, these methods are generally proprietary, involve complex, costly, and time consuming software development and integration. Network programmability and Software Defined Architectures go beyond this traditional approach. Implementations such as Cisco’s OnePK API allow operators to reach into their networks to extract unprecedented levels of information, control, manipulate packets and flows in real-time and transparently integrate new services all with standard well defined operational tasks  and levels of automation never before seen.

New services can be designed, tested and integrated into an existing environment with ease and without interrupting existing operational services. New functionality can be added to existing services, legacy services can be quickly refreshed to give them new features and functionality. Business platforms and data federations will also benefit from the improved network visibility by being supplied with granular, rich and meaningful network data. This will allow the operators to enrich their service platforms with capabilities derived from the network, that go far beyond the network layer.

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of the interview.