For telcos in Asia Pacific, transitioning applications and services in preparation for new delivery mechanisms is vital. As a result, operators face many decisions in the near future. Meeting the challenge begins with making the right choices in the areas of data management and integration.
Vision and reality are different things
For a variety of reasons ranging from reduced time-to-market for new services to cost savings, virtualization has become a priority. However, the reality of best approaches to enablement remains less established.
Why is this the case? For one example, given the breadth of available SaaS solutions, telcos are invariably already using at least one cloud connectivity option and possibly more – whether their network design inherently supports the use case or not. Furthermore, hybrid data center architectures are becoming common.
As cloud technologies evolve, telcos are likely to pursue multiple connectivity approaches simultaneously for different business needs. Bearing this in mind, identifying best approach to integration is complex. Thus, cloud theory presently exceeds best practice. And as long as enablement methods remain fragmented, deployments are unlikely to deliver full value.
Virtualization needs to be more than virtual reality
The cloud promises simplicity on one level but achieving it demands a well thought through strategy, one that involves being able to integrate a growing number of different moving parts, each with its own operational demands. Enablement strategies must support and deliver:
- Consistency where a solution or application is available in all locations with the same capabilities.
- Security and control which, as well as compliance, are real challenges within Cloud infrastructures.
- Flexibility; since the list of connectivity PoPs may be broad, supported connectivity models will vary.
Complexity and inconsistency hallmark this landscape. In some cases, performance and availability are critical but scalability less so. In others, such as services built on Amazon, reliability and performance needs are high; volume is unpredictable; and requirements from the enterprise to the cloud may be geographically known but limited. How should telcos compile the infrastructure needed for success?
This is a complex undertaking, particularly given:
- Legacy application suites are breaking up as components shift to the cloud while lines of business (LOBs) often control IT budgets and instinctively act independently of central IT strategy.
- The need for integration is cross-domain. Specialist integration functionality, especially for application and data integration, is becoming a key entity within the telco organization.
- API management demands are increasing in line with the scale of the new, virtual portfolio. Yet speeding transformation, by taking charge of integration with self-service tools, is unlikely to present a long-term architecture solution.
The reality today has resulted from scattergun approaches that, rather than enabling digital business, have seen integration becoming a barrier to success because traditional approaches and technologies cannot cope with the volume and pace of business innovation. It means telco leaders now need to identify common capabilities and requirements across delivery models, domains and endpoints.
They need to identify a flexible, self-service approach that shifts responsibility to where it is most appropriate, delivering a thorough integration strategy and utilizing a platform capability that will be critical if strategic cloud success is to follow. This change may not come easily.
Making cloud accessible and profitable
Telcos must also address changing customer and business model requirements, accessing and consolidating portfolio data and legacy applications, some onsite and a growing number hosted virtually in a single, enterprise-wide technology.
The choice of how to do this is vital (and time-sensitive). Increasing control over data, and creating one consolidated platform for digital management, is immediately required to increase both new revenues and also ROI on legacy technology investments. Data flows that are efficiently consolidated are central both to simplifying application integration and achieving commercial success.
Role of mediation for the telco cloud: a foundation for successful future enterprise?
So what is the technology that best performs the function of collecting and converting any data from multiple sources/assets both inside and outside the network, normalizing its format and then passing the output on to the required destinations? The answer is one that supports:
- The reuse of legacy investments in data applications by consolidating multiple system outputs into one horizontal data layer. This dramatically improves commercial performance efficiency.
- The ability to support the evolution of new technologies in both business and network via an application which makes onboarding both new elements and business models straightforward and cost effective.
- Support for multiple data management approaches in a single platform including batch, periodic, un-periodic and streaming.
- High performance necessary to manage extreme volume real-time data flows in a secure way across a massive number of connected products and assets.
These are all needed to overcome the limitations of legacy IT in the evolving digital commerce landscape. First and most obviously, finding a technology that accommodates the already wide and still growing range of assets in a digital network with ease, feeding growing volumes of key information to business systems in real-time is key. By deploying such a platform, telcos will experience benefits that include:
- Reduced costs for managing data across multiple silos through a single data management layer.
- Consolidation of many point data solutions through one enterprise wide platform.
- Simplified business support by reducing network connection complexity.
- Separation of business and network to allow transformation to happen in both layers without dependency to each other.
- Speeding up the delivery of new services.
An optimal solution enables them to acquire data from any connected object in real-time; is one that delivers a platform for all data management tasks and enables new use cases to be realized with real business agility; and one that is fast to deploy and easy to operate (with as much self-sufficiency as desired) is the best first-step in leveraging the benefits that virtualization offers.
Keith Brody is head of communications at DigitalRoute