Cisco innovations drive automation, transformation of operators

Telecom Asia Special Project Team
29 Nov 2018

In the past 12 months, Cisco has been driving a new way to build and operate networks with the concept of intent-based networking – capturing business intent and translating it into network policy. Laying the foundation for the next evolution of this approach have been increased integration of automation and analytics to Cisco’s intent-based networking portfolio and SD-WAN support.

These and other initiatives are creating opportunities for service providers and telecom operators to layer existing and new services; build intelligent and efficient IP infrastructures for the services; accelerate demand; and leverage Cisco expertise to optimize business.

Cisco’s innovations driving telecom operators’ business differentiation and success were recognized in this year’s Telecom Asia Readers’ Choice & Innovation Awards with the IT and networking global leader winning in three categories:

  • Cloud Innovation of the Year (Cisco Managed Services Accelerator)
  • Data Center Innovation of the Year (Cisco Network Assurance Engine)
  • NFV Innovation of the Year (Cisco Network Services Orchestrator)

Aligned with Cisco’s focus on enabling business process automation and digital transformation of telecom operators, the three award-winning services offer different value-add for operators:

  • Cisco Managed Services Accelerator (MSX) creates new revenue streams
  • Cisco Network Assurance Engine drives automation in the data center network
  • Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) provides the overarching framework for multi-vendor orchestration and automation

Telecom Asia took this opportunity to seek insights from Sanjay Kaul, President of Asia Pacific & Japan of Cisco’s Service Provider Business, on the company’s innovation-led possibilities for telecom operators.

Telecom Asia: Can you comment on the three wins, especially in the context of how you see Cisco’s Service Provider Business in the region growing and evolving amid disruptions to traditional approaches in IT/network deployment?

Sanjay Kaul: As telecom operators plan the future expansion of 4G networks and transition to 5G, they need to start investing today in capacity planning, data center optimization and virtualization technology. Companies such as Jio, Telstra and Bharti Airtel understand network automation will play a key role in all of this and have partnered with Cisco to drive their business forward.

TA: Cisco being a key industry driver of innovation, what prevailing trends do you think offer operators exciting opportunities for growth and what are your top priorities in positioning operators to leverage these opportunities?

SK: We are very excited that 5G is almost here in developed markets, proliferating fixed and wireless connectivity. This offers opportunities for operators to expand their business in managed wireless services, security and voice solutions in both B2B and B2B2C markets. 4G upgrades and 5G investment will also drive new revenue opportunities in IoT, in segments such as transportation, healthcare, education, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, energy and utilities, etc.

TA: Given the growing momentum of enterprise SD-WAN and SD-Branch deployments, what are the top operator pain points that the Cisco MSX addresses?

SK: SD-WAN and SD-Branch are some of the fastest growing solutions in the enterprise market. Cisco’s MSX builds on the company’s leadership in the enterprise space and brings this expertise to the operator to drive a complete automated and orchestrated SD-WAN and SD-Branch service delivery. This will accelerate order-to-activation from months or weeks, to days or even hours. Cisco’s MSX also features the latest service capabilities, a customer self-service portal.

TA: Briefly, can you comment on how customizable MSX is for service development, deployment and management as well as service integration?

SK: Cisco’s MSX is a customizable and extensible service creation and delivery platform that helps managed service providers deliver service offerings to the market in a fast and profitable way. MSX implements an open API and SDK and service extension capability that provides a rich templating environment. It also includes simplified integration into OSS/BSS through billing API, order entry API, and user identity API. Finally, MSX supports physical and virtual systems with third-party integration capabilities.

TA: What synergies between Cisco NSO and Cisco’s wave of intent-based networking innovation (particularly with the Cisco Network Assurance Engine for the data center) can service providers take advantage of to enable a holistic and integrated approach for their enterprise customers’ IT/networking strategies?

SK: Cisco NSO is complementary to the Cisco Network Assurance Engine. The latter provides continuous verification and analysis of the entire data center network and operates consistently with the operator’s intent. The data center network is a key component of the managed services workloads and is enabled, activated and ensured with NSO.

TA: Operators are embracing programmable, virtualized and automated network infrastructures and turning to technologies like Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for unprecedented network agility. Why is Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (with Layered Services Architecture) such a significant game-changing solution and why is it not just another vendor-driven implementation of NFVO?

SK: Operators must move beyond bespoke virtual network functions on computing and NFV infrastructure. Cisco NSO provides game-changing capabilities to orchestrate across physical networks, physical appliances for applications, and multiple virtual network capabilities. For example, network slicing in 5G orchestrates across the network, data center, virtual function, mobile core, etc. – and the business benefit comes from the ability to orchestrate end-to-end across domains, to create the final service construct.

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