Shifting from Voice to Digital OSS

The promise of the Internet of Things brings hope.

Consider the following example. A typical DDOS attack can be discovered 70 percent of the time within three to five hours. But the cost of such an attack amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour. The cost is even higher for telecoms due to the mission-critical nature of the telecom business. The question is, are telecoms agile enough to respond and prevent DDOS attacks?  

Some telcos such as ATT have acquired security companies such as AlienVault in order to prepare for these challenges. The newly defined technology or product category SIEM SOAR (Security Information and Event Management—Security Orchestration and Resolution) is currently outside of OSS scope and resides within IT as part of newly organized Security Operation Centers (SOCs).

Data volume

According to AT&T's Andre Fuetsch, data usage has been increased over 360,000 percent since the introduction of the iPhone 11 years ago. AT&T’s data suggests that 242 petabytes of data are traversing its core network on a daily basis. If this figure is true, the traditional assurance tools based on SNMP-trap processing are no longer viable. Furthermore, the data forms within networks are changing as well. While 45 percent of C-level executives believe a small percentage of their data is unstructured, the reality is that 78 percent of organizations are dealing with unstructured data that accounts for more than 50 percent of all data, according to recent HFS research. With the amount of data telecoms have to process and the increasing expectations to use the data to serve customers better, the question is: how fast can that data can be processed? 

The speed of operation at scale

Some telecom operators are still dealing with traditional voice services and applications. According to industry numbers, telecom revenues have been declining since 2010 as mobile revenues plateau and voice revenue erode. The worse news is this is probably not the end and the full impact of OTT—including such apps like Facebook, Google, Whatsapp and Skype—will push traditional telecom revenues down even further. Some telecom providers are scrambling to get into other horizontal markets such as entertainment, gaming, healthcare, and autonomous mobility, but these are essentially new industries. 

The promise of the Internet of Things (IoT) brings hope. But the question is how can telecom providers efficiently master (and monetize) the new challenges related to the 50 billion devices projected to come online by 2020? Telcos are seen to be the natural fit to manage IoT segments and tap into the IoT opportunity. But with increased revenue pressure, it is not clear if they can, and they may ultimately hand it over to hyperscale companies that can do so. Telcos still need a relatively long time to introduce a new service and require droves of engineers to manage devices, whereas hyperscale giants—like Amazon and Google—have a “just do it” attitude with admittedly simpler infrastructure and an appetite for innovation. 

Distributed networks and edge technologies

In the past, telecom networks, even the biggest ones, were stretched across multiple continents but with very clear submarine cabling and a lot of over-provisioned bandwidth. The latest numbers on edge computing suggest there is a need for ten times the number of cell towers in US, and that equates to around two million new edge sites. Because of mission-critical applications and the respective jitter and delay, getting closer to the customer would be mean more equipment. But this also drives the need for hyperautomation and autonomous operational support systems.

Shifting from a monolithic approach to nimble micro services

The remarkable success of open source in many domains called for similar initiatives in the telecom domain. For example, the Linux Open Network Foundation is making great progress. There have been other industry initiatives to simplify or improve NFV, including LF Networking's announcement of its OPNFV Verification Program (OVP), which is the first iteration of a VNF compliance program that will grow to include NFVi.


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