Telecom operators: Supporting tomorrow’s business through flexible virtual networks
Contributors: Laurent Degré
Service providers are at a junction – they can either drift into irrelevance, or join the fast-moving digital world
The business world has changed – and digital companies are leading the transformation.
One successful business powering the new digital future is Amazon, through Amazon Web Services, its on-demand cloud computing service. And Google is also driving change in the same direction, through its similar cloud-based offer.
Why are these companies investing in on-demand cloud computing?
Because they know that today’s customers want fast, flexible services. They want to be able to buy these services easily, access them immediately, and adjust them whenever their needs change.
A similar trend is happening in the world of networks. As businesses and consumers come to expect more and more personalised, versatile services, the importance of networks that can support these will grow.
So service providers now find themselves at a junction. They can continue in their current direction and become legacy companies. This is likely to mean they’ll come to be seen as utilities, with limited opportunities for growth or innovation.
Or they can join the fast-moving digital world, gaining the opportunity to win their share of the huge amount of new business on offer.
Smarter and more agile
But to succeed in this world, businesses will need to be smarter and more agile.
They’ll have to be able to respond flexibly to changing circumstances, and allow customers the freedom to shape their own products and services.
A lot of things remain uncertain about this future. But one thing we know is that providers won’t be able to succeed in it using yesterday’s technology.
A key way that service providers can meet the changing demands of their customers is through virtualisation, enabled by orchestration. A virtualised network is one that has been decoupled from its hardware. While still rooted in physical equipment, it can be operated independently of it.
This enables service providers to work a lot more flexibly. Why? Because they can be driven by what their customers want, rather than by their hardware’s limitations. They can provide bespoke cloud-based services, available instantly, using à la carte and pay-as-you-use models. This offers both businesses and consumers the visibility and control they’re looking for.
And these services can be activated elastically, being scaled up or down easily as needed.
Rapid innovation through orchestration
Digitisation, powered by virtualisation, is expected to increase hugely in the coming years. One service provider that has taken advantage of this opportunity is service provider, Softbank, in Japan. Softbank is using Cisco virtualisation technology to deliver more agile services to its customers.
The key technology that allows Cisco to support flexible virtual networks is its Network Services Orchestrator (NSO). This helps automate and simplify complex network tasks.
Sadahiro Sato, the senior vice president of ICT innovation at Softbank, said that the new architecture, based on Cisco’s virtualisation and network abstraction technologies, will enhance the company’s future business opportunities by enabling much greater agility.
He said: “The flexibility and open nature [of the new Cisco architecture] will equip us with the tools to innovate new services at a rapid pace and keep ahead of our competition. Automation and elasticity on demand will also help us dramatically reduce both our operating and capital costs as we grow the offering.”
When a business really understands network hardware, it knows how to harness its capabilities into agile virtual networks that can power tomorrow’s services.
Because of its experience in creating reliable, efficient networks across the world, Cisco is well-placed to support service providers like Softbank as they build the networks of the future.
Its technology which features advanced orchestration, comprehensive security and adaptable open-source coding, has everything needed to anchor high-powered, flexible networks.
As digitisation gathers pace, customers have already come to expect self-service and on-demand services. It’s now time for service providers to decide whether to be spectators or take their place in this new world.
Find out more about how Cisco technology can support the networks of the future. Read more about the Cisco NFV Infrastructure
– Top digital companies like Amazon and Google are investing in on-demand cloud computing because they know today’s customers want fast, flexible and on-demand services.
– Virtualisation[cisco.com/go/nfv], enabled by orchestration and automation technology, brings service providers the opportunity to join these companies in the fast-moving digital world, and to meet new customer needs.
– Digitisation, powered by virtualisation, is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years.