Every service provider I talk to these days wants pretty much the same thing: a faster, less expensive way to develop services. Faced with increased competition on all sides, along with increasing demands for more mobile and richer media offerings, speed to market and efficient operations are everything.

For many, networks have become cumbersome, resulting in long services lifecycles. Slow processes—from creation to modification and end of life—hamper business agility and make networks too costly to manage. And as new, more agile competitors without legacy burdens enter the market, the intense pressures on profitability continue to mount.

So how do you do things faster and at lower cost? What is the right investment strategy?

Innovate your way to success.

You have several options for developing new services in an inflexible infrastructure environment: Get out your crystal ball. Go with your gut. Or wait and see where the market goes, then catch up.

That’s right, these aren’t options at all. None are sustainable in today’s market conditions.

You have to innovate. Get the right partner and tap into the wide innovation engine that is the world. Make your network your innovation platform. It is the platform on which to build a more successful business.

1Why flexibility is essential

To compete, you need to evolve to a network with built-in flexibility. A flexible network helps you adjust to market demands quickly, enables you to automate network functions, and supports innovation—for you and others. Doing this via open software becomes essential.

This is much more than an IT strategy. It’s a business strategy that’s absolutely essential to compete and profit. It’s also the foundation for a broader culture of innovation, where people inside and outside your organization can act on ideas and develop solutions quickly.

The path to the modern network

As I work with service providers, I make two key recommendations to bring flexibility into their network:

  1. Add automation and orchestration capabilities – This is essential to reduce the costs, complexities, and time required to launch new services. A good orchestration system uses the right data abstraction model and hides complex details from service applications, promoting rapid innovation. It can also automate provisioning and dynamically allocate resources as needed for greater efficiency.To deliver these capabilities, the industry is driving software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and open-source participation. At Cisco, these are central features of our Evolved Programmable Network (EPN) and Evolved Services Platform (ESP).


  1. Add internal process agility to match network flexibility – Internal process challenges can hinder your ability to effectively manage physical and virtual resources together. That’s why legacy operation support systems (OSSs) and business support systems (BSSs) will need to be reengineered or overhauled for the new services infrastructures. To gain speed and agility, I often suggest working with a vendor who can help take on the integration of some of these lower-level OSS and BSS functions.


It is also important to bring development and operations together—the DevOps model. It’s all about operations: autonomy, efficiency, lowest cost, fewest number of people to run it.

Transforming your network can impact your business in several important ways. First, it puts you in a better position to deliver the innovative services that drive greater profitability. Once you add and effectively sell new services, you’ll increase share of customer wallet, opening the door to attach new services. And finally, as you engage your customers more effectively with rapid service innovations, you’ll deliver value in a customer-centric way, building lasting customer loyalty.

I am ever hopeful that our industry will find a single focus: delighting its customers. Then we will find that the marketplace is teeming with opportunity.

Want to learn more about how you can enter new markets? Check out these informational white papers here.


Wayne Cullen

Senior Manager, Service Provider Architectures