While service providers have been talking about digital transformations for years, three challenges still loom, according to Huawei's Jiang Xue.
Xue, carrier IT sales vice president of carrier BG marketing and solutions for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd , spoke about the three challenges during a network transformation seminar hosted by Huawei at the SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands, earlier this month.
In this Huawei video, Xue said that to date progress hasn't met expectations when it came to carriers' cloud and network transformations, which in turn is slowing down digital transformations. (See Huawei Network Transformation Seminar.)
"Digital transformation must be done, it's vital, but progress hasn't matched the vision," he said.
The first challenge en route to the "cloudifcation" of networks is finding the right business cases and business drivers. It's not enough to have small clouds for various departments, such as IT or network operations. Instead of siloed clouds, service providers should put their energy and effort into using the cloud for "big innovation," Xue said.
"The reality is, in our industry we build cloud for every business, for every department, for every service," he said. "Each of those clouds are too small, so they're a limited resource. We need to extend the clouds and not use siloed cloud."
The second challenge Xue detailed was finding the right architectures and roadmaps to cope with complex services and complex legacy environments. There is a wide range of business or network requirements for internal IT and network platforms, and there are additional processes that support enterprise customers.
In order to resolve these issues, service providers need to build distributed networks that include cloud-based data center architectures while also maintaining performance, stability, reliability, and low latency, Xue said. Transforming services to the cloud will also serve to underpin future deployments of IoT and 5G.
"We need to find a unified architecture to support all of the pieces, so that's a challenge," Xue said. "We also need to design the right roadmap to move the applications step-by-step to the unified cloud, and that's also a challenge."
The third and final challenge included integrating and operating the unified platform. Xue noted that OTT players are already taking advantage of unified cloud data centers to support their services and applications, but the telecom industry still has work to do.
"We need to transform our vertical operational model to a horizontal operational model," he said. "That requires the technology transformation, but also requires a change in the processes and in the organization."
In addition to the technology transformations, communications service providers also need to change the mindset and skill sets of their employees as well, which Xue said was yet another big challenge. In order to meet the challenges of integration and operation, as well as the challenge of re-skilling employees, carriers need to implement DevOps practices across the board, according to Xue.
During his presentation, Xue said that virtualization alone wasn't enough to facilitate carriers' digital transformations, which was echoed by Huawei's Zhang Yu, chief architect, carrier datacenter solution during the same network transformation seminar.
"We believe that the cloud will be the foundation of the future telco world," said Yu, who went on to describe Huawei's network functions cloudifcation (NFC) system. By putting everything into the cloud -- including digital services, O&M capabilities, and network equipment -- Huawei believes it can speed up carriers' digital transformations by making network software fully automated and distributed.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation