Cellcos keen on open orchestration but legacy is still king

sdn cloud netcracker orchestration
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Open-source telecom network orchestration is ripe for disruption in the mobile sector, but proprietary legacy technology continues to dominate the network even in hybrid scenarios, says a report from ABI Research.

Orchestration architectures that provide end to end visibility remain an important cornerstone for mobile service providers (MSPs) as they shift to a hybrid and digital future mode of operations. A nimble way of transacting business is eventually going to set the clock speed for MSPs. Therefore, an orchestration hierarchy that breaks down isolated system architectures is a “must-have” to bring the speed and convenience that will drive competitive success, said Don Alusha, senior analyst at ABI Research

“The industry is gradually evolving into a competitive landscape that warrants support of a multitude of consumer and industrial applications. To that end, vendors should not optimize individual orchestration solutions while ignoring the interconnected and ever-increasing web of application and devices,” said Alusha. “Vendors should aim to enhance total system properties and design their solution(s) with a ‘go for the good of the whole’ mindset. This will require a strategy shift from domain-specific orchestration products to wholesale approaches.”

The evolvement of telecom networks has led to heterogeneous environments where proprietary systems must coexist with new open source cloud technologies. Naturally, there is increased network complexity dispersed among network elements and telco systems, Alusha said. Open source is certainly encroaching into telecoms, but in the short and medium term, MSPs should be ready to face a scenario where vendors’ proprietary technology is still key to their operations.

Some vendors, such as NEC/Netcracker and Amdocs offer numerous management and orchestration products, each of which complements their BSS/OSS portfolio. Others, such as Cisco and Ciena have acquired strong automation and orchestration capabilities that, when coupled with their strong networking expertise, provide a moat that extends higher up in the service domain.

Going forward, there are two possible options to shape orchestration architectures.

One: institute a universal and unified architecture that supplants the current single-layer model with logic that considers orchestration holistically rather than piecemeal.

Two (and the most likely scenario): implement automation at each layer of the telco ecosystem and fully integrate from top to bottom, exposing both legacy and digital assets as APIs, Alusha said.

“APIs are viewed as the linchpin of a modern approach to a multi-layered orchestration that tracks data from digital services and monitors interaction and dependencies between applications, resources, and connectivity channels. MSPs should unlock the value of existing rigid assets by casting isolated architectures – typically associated with backdoors – in favor of agile applications that can be ‘plugged’ into the network,” he said.

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