Create an OSS Cloud Strategy Designed for Digital Transformation
In an interview with Yuval Stein, the AVP of Technologies at TEOCO, he shares how cloud deployments can offer communication service providers (CSPs) an efficient path towards digitally transforming their OSS. Yuval points out that now is an excellent time to rethink network operations entirely, and why CSPs should consider all their options to understand the best path before making a move to the cloud.
Q: For at least the past ten years, the telecom industry has been focused on the topic of Digital Transformation. Why is this process taking so long, and is there a way to accelerate things?
A: Digital Transformation is an evolution not a revolution. Telecom networks are incredibly complex, and moving their management to the cloud requires a significant change in technology and a significant change in operations. You cannot move all your systems forward at the same time. You need to do it gradually, and this is what we see happening.
We also need to keep in mind that Digital Transformation is not just about upgrading systems, it’s also about improving work processes that are tied to the technology that is being upgraded. Changing human behavior is always more difficult than pure technological change.
If we look at the technical aspects, Digital Transformation is really about migrating systems to the next generation of technology. This is always a challenge when legacy systems are involved. Network engineers typically want a new, clean architecture without too many ‘leftover’ systems to manage. This often requires reducing the number of systems, because most service operators have systems that are redundant and don’t integrate well.
The cloud can actually help with an operator’s Digital Transformation process. And since it has become the “de-facto” standard, shifting to the cloud is a natural choice. However, some software vendors are having challenges transitioning their solutions. What service operators can do is to start transitioning by moving everything ‘new’ to the cloud. When the legacy systems become cloud enabled, they can then move to the cloud while the other systems remain in their current data centers – yet everything can continue talking to one another through APIs.
Q: What are the various cloud options for CSPs?
A: When we are talking about the cloud, there are several different options. It may be a private cloud, fully owned and operated by the service operator. It may be a private cloud that a third party will operate on behalf of the service provider, or it may be a public cloud, like Amazon or Oracle.
Within each one of these options, there are two or three decisions to take. Probably the most important one to consider is, who will manage the cloud infrastructure? And then question number two is, who will manage the applications on the cloud? For example, it may be that the cloud host is Amazon, but the service provider, or even a third party, is responsible for managing the applications that are in the Amazon cloud. The cloud supplier may not necessarily be the same organization that manages the cloud or the service provider’s applications.
For legacy applications the operator also needs to decide who is managing them, and where. But that’s not necessarily a technical decision. It’s really a business decision. For example, a reasonable plan would be that all the applications that are cloud-ready will move to the new architecture and will be operated by whomever manages the cloud. And all the existing applications will stay within the operator’s data center.
Q: Why do you feel a gradual cloud migration is best?
A: Applications that move to the cloud will enjoy many benefits. They will be more scalable, more agile. They will be easier to update, and so on. However, a gradual approach is the wiser path, and frankly, the new cloud technology itself dictates a transformation of this kind because not every solution will be cloud ready at the same time. Each vendor has their own timeline. In general, the move to the cloud is a kind of mini transformation within itself. It needs to be carefully structured and well thought out.
One of the benefits of undergoing a digital transformation with a gradual shift to the cloud is that it allows service providers to keep the cloud part of their architecture ‘clean’. What I mean by this is that when you have systems operating in the cloud, it’s like a new world where everything works in sync. Then gradually, systems can be carefully added over time as the legacy systems are modernized. The end target is that everything eventually works and lives within a full cloud architecture.
If the network operator doesn’t create a holistic transformation strategy, what may happen is that they end up creating a new cloud for every new solution from every vendor. This creates a mixture of systems on various clouds that are both on and off premises. Without a strategic plan, an operator’s transformation can end up looking like a plate of spaghetti. It will be difficult and more costly to manage. Creating multiple Clouds for different management domains is a reasonable approach, yet it must be well planned and thought out.
Q: What would an ideal OSS Cloud look like – and what steps are required?
A: Many operators are going with a multi-cloud strategy to meet the specific technology needs of different teams across the organization. This makes sense so long as it doesn’t get out of control. When you plan an OSS transformation, which includes service assurance, you want to be intentional in your decisions. This means creating an OSS cloud that you can expand into. The more OSS systems you can put in this cloud, the better. Gradually adding more and more systems to the same cloud over time.
Of course, this will take time and some APIs will need to be changed. Let’s say that you have two legacy systems with an existing API, but now you are moving one of the systems to the cloud. Some APIs will need to be updated, but that’s always the case during any type of transformation or change to the network.
- What are the benefits of this approach?
- While there are technical benefits of a multi-cloud solution, CSPs should also consider the business impacts, and what that means for their organization. Limiting the number of cloud systems is typically more efficient, both technically and operationally. When you have fewer clouds, that means fewer cloud vendors, and a more unified architecture with fewer APIs to build and manage. A smart cloud strategy allows operators to progress through their digital transformation in a much more efficient manner.
From a business perspective, limiting the number of cloud providers and having a smart cloud strategy from the beginning is just a more reasonable approach. From an operational and expense perspective, it will be easier to manage, and you’ll pay less if you have more applications being managed by the same vendor on the same cloud.
The key takeaway is, don’t move to the cloud in a haphazard way. Have a holistic strategy and understand what the implications will be over time. Think through how you want to architect things.
Q:Can you explain the TEOCO Cloud – and how it can help improve network operations?
A: With TEOCO’s Network Analytics Cloud, our experts handle all the time consuming details by designing, managing, and maintaining your private cloud environment on your behalf, so you always have access to the compute resources needed for optimal results. We purchase and manage the cloud infrastructure and we manage the applications for the service operator. We’ll even manage an operator’s legacy solutions as well – those that are not yet ready for the cloud – and transition them when ready.
An OSS Cloud provides a way for CSPs to simplify, and even accelerate, their digital transformation journey.