By Frank Lansink, Managing Director of IPsoft
For the most part, the rapid evolution and expansion of CSPs’ businesses has taken them by surprise. Many of even the biggest players are still operating their legacy networks like they were a decade ago, with old-fashioned processes and tools.
Instead, they should be utilising a more modern and sophisticated method of network management that doesn’t require human involvement; it’s simply not feasible for CSPs to take such a resource-intensive management approach while also investigating and developing the next generation of services.
So, how can they free up enough budget and human capital to appropriately research which trends will be worth investing in – and then innovate in those areas?
Automation is widely believed to be the answer to these questions; for example, CSPs can download a patch onto hundreds or even thousands of servers at the click of a button. But, what many don’t realise is, even if this kind of automation appears to save time, creating and running the patches still consumes many resources.
This isn’t a solution, just a shift in resource usage similar to spending 100 hours building a robot to predict just this week’s weather. If the weather will be the same for the next year, the robot would provide some return on investment in the long run, but since a new robot is needed every single week to accommodate changing temperatures and conditions, there is essentially no time saved.
Similarly, scripting automation for every patch may feel like a time savings, but it will not save any time in the long run. This type of automation thrives in a homogeneous environment, like the world with the same weather every day.
This was actually extremely effective for CSPs in the 1990s when all 10,000 servers were performing the exact same function, but that’s no longer the case for today’s increasingly heterogeneous networks.
Instead, CSPs need automation that can adapt and re-frame itself to match their IT environments’ constantly changing parameters.
Many are realising this shift and are incorporating smarter automation tools into their network management.
One such approach, autonomics, can actually script itself by watching engineers’ day-to-day activity, effectively automating the automation process. That means engineers aren’t spending time on network patches or operating system updates; in fact, the autonomic system can operate completely independently from human engineers.
For CSPs, that can mean up to a 30 percent reduction in management costs. And, if we look at what that 30 percent increase in resources can accomplish when applied to research and development or next-generation service delivery, the impact of autonomics becomes even more significant.
So, if autonomics is such a perfect solution, why is network management still an issue for CSPs? The move to autonomics is less about applicability, and instead about overcoming engineers’ hesitancy to give up control.
Many engineers have been running their pieces of CSPs’ networks for five, 10 or even 15 years, and believe that the complexity they deal with is so unique that no one else could possibly manage it, least of all a machine. That’s not to say they’re wrong – after all, they’ve seen attempts at automation eat up time and resources with intensive scripting and frequent updates.
What may surprise many of these engineers, though, is that autonomics can easily learn the complexities of any network, from simple, fixed-line networks to more complex LTE networks, simply by mimicking what they have been doing and applying that to like situations.
That doesn’t mean the engineers are out of a job, either. Instead, given their in-depth knowledge of the network, they’ll be invaluable in innovating new services.
By introducing autonomics, CSPs can begin this transition from solely supporting legacy technologies to simultaneously funding new services and sectors, like bringing LTE to new markets or building up infrastructure to support machine-to-machine connectivity.
With the ability to transfer capital to new and market-leading ventures like these, CSPs can step ahead of their competition and propel themselves to the forefront of the growing telecommunications market.