In the context of a mobile network core, automating the lifecycle management of both new and existing operator services, including designing, deploying, performance measuring, fine tuning, and decommissioning, is a rising tide that will lift all boats. But how fast that tide is coming in is an important topic to unpack, as we did in our conversation with Light Reading.
Services can be a complex mix of multiple functions, both legacy appliance-based functions and virtualized functions. When it comes to innovation, it’s the lack of automation that creates a cultural and structural barrier to driving top-line service revenue growth. Facing intense competition from over-the-top content providers, and with ever-higher service expectations from customers, operators must find ways to provide new revenue-generating services that customers will purchase.
Unfortunately, the current process of designing and rolling out a new service is a very manual one. It can take months to deploy a simple gold, silver, or bronze service. Given that the burden is so high to roll out a new service, only the “highest runners” tend to make it to market. This situation stifles innovation and significantly retards revenue generation.
On the other hand, automation allows operators to rapidly create, deploy, measure performance, iterate on services and decommission services (fail fast). The process can move 80% to 90% faster than it does today—while reducing the cost to create these services by 70% or more.
This powers the innovation engine in operators and drives growth. For instance, Affirmed has seen the simple process of onboarding a mobile virtual network operator customer take two months or longer without automation. Automating the process reduced the time to less than one week and cut the cost by 90%.
Automation has become an important driver to support new services such as enterprise offerings, innovative rating plans, and IoT. Edge Computing is an emerging area where virtual network functions are deployed closer to the edge, further driving the demand for automation.
Transitioning to automation will be a gradual evolution (probably a decade-long process, as Dan Jones and others have pointed out), but with highly repetitive tasks being first to evolve, we see a major wave of disruption coming as network processes inevitably become more automated.