I get to talk with a lot of service providers around the world. And no matter where they are, they have a common set of issues—whether they’re a telco, mobile operator, cloud provider, cable company, web service provider, or all of the above.

Big ones include: How can we reduce network complexity? How can we bring new services to market faster and adapt to changing market conditions without a big up-front investment? What are the opportunities for emerging technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV)?

The stats are telling: By 2020, it’s forecasted that 50 billion interconnected devices will collect and transmit data about our homes, our health, and our businesses. The enormity and complexity of expanding applications, expanding devices and types, and massive data that must be processed, analyzed, and fed back to users in real time are staggering.


Technology becomes both the challenge and the opportunity. Networks have become complex and rigid, costly to operate, and a burden on skilled people. New technologies can help deal with these issues—technologies such as SDN, NFV, and open-source projects.

Alone, each is insufficient. Together, they bring the promise of automation and self-service, simplified processes, and lower operational costs. At the same time, they relieve skilled people of essential but low-value tasks, freeing them for new innovations.


So how can simpler operations transform your business today? Here are three ideas to consider right now:

  1. Embrace technologies that enhance agility.

The time has come to overhaul inflexible infrastructures with their time-consuming processes and the need for so many highly skilled people to run them.

That’s why an automation and orchestration strategy that integrates SDN, NFV, and other technologies into your existing network is so important. A programmable network environment lets you relocate and scale software elements instead of hardware. It allows you to make adjustments in hours or days, not weeks or months. This drives down costs and makes you ready for what’s next.

The talk of automation can be scary. It raises questions such as how do we know what is going on in the network? What happens when something goes wrong? Are we more exposed to security breaches?

These are the right questions to ask. It’s essential to choose your path carefully and select partners that you know you can trust in networking and security. You’ll want to choose an architecture and orchestration system with the right data abstraction model, including a transaction-oriented approach to network changes that keeps you in charge.

By doing so, you’ll gain the flexibility you need to turn on services quickly, plan for new opportunities, and support the business in a more strategic way. You’ll be freed up to focus on business innovations that will drive your business forward, instead of the tedium of essential but low-value operations. This elevates your role within your organization and leads to vastly improved customer experiences.

  1. Accelerate innovation through openness.

No one can do everything themselves. That’s why we talk a lot about the benefits of open partnerships, collaboration, and services. When you evolve to a lower-cost, more flexible infrastructure, you’re in a better position to have these benefits.

Done right, a software-defined network easily integrates new services across various vendor technologies. It opens your infrastructure to the world of innovation. Plus, it invites participation from third-party application developers across the globe.

The ability to keep your development model and APIs simple and open is vital to maintaining a vibrant, fast-moving, and lucrative services framework. These are key ingredients for rapid innovation; more compelling services; and satisfied, loyal customers. Your network is the platform of your future.

  1. Support new business models.

Clearly, speed is the modern competitive advantage. When you have a fast, agile network, you’re able to offer more competitive pricing and adapt to changing market conditions.

Another upside: You’re able to reach new market segments, including ones that weren’t feasible before because of their size, cost, or location.

As I suggest to service providers all the time, it’s important to focus on where you can add value—how you can delight your customers. You will need to change your processes from a network-operations model, which is now very inefficient, to a development-operations model, which drives service innovations. To see how other companies are getting ahead by adopting this “DevOps” approach, take a look at our recent e-book: The Open Road to Opportunity.

We’re at an important turning point in the industry. Connectivity is changing behaviors faster than ever before, and your ability to adapt to these new behaviors will play a key role in your success. If you’re taking steps to improve agility, working on an SDN or NFV strategy, and working more openly with partners, you put your organization in a far more powerful position to profit.

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


Wayne Cullen

Senior Manager, Service Provider Architectures