There’s never been a more exciting time to work in telecoms. New and emerging technologies continue to shake up our industry, pushing us to act faster, collaborate better and work smarter. 5G, the edge, IoT, microservices, CI/CD and open APIs are transforming the role of service providers and our industry as we know it. One crucial technology underpinning this digital transformation is the cloud.
Service providers are increasingly looking to leverage the benefits that cloud platforms provide, and as a result, new partnership ecosystems are being galvanized in the telecoms industry. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an important player in these emerging ecosystems, and I’m pleased to share that we recently extended our long-term partnership with them to certifying our mission-critical telecom BSS product portfolio on their cloud platform. This provides an additional option for our customers who are embarking on their cloud BSS journey, and wish to take advantage of AWS’s offering to support their 5G business models and monetize new consumer and enterprise services. Please visit Ericsson Telecom BSS on May 26 to view a fireside chat where I’ll be discussing this relationship and what it means for our customers further with Amir Rao, General Manager Solution Portfolio and Tech Alliances, Telecom IBU, AWS. Please mark your calendars (add to your Google Calendar | Outlook Calendar) so you don’t miss out! You can read more from Amir in the AWS blogpost.
Putting the power of the cloud in context
But let’s take a step back for a minute: why should you embark on a cloud transformation journey?
The capabilities cloud platforms are instrumental in helping service providers accelerate their digital transformations and take advantage of cloud native software, like Ericsson’s BSS product portfolio. Infrastructure-as-a-Code, autoscaling, and managed cloud services – used in conjunction with new innovations such as AI/ML, serverless computing, and high-performance computing – allow you to react faster to customer demands and reduce the burden of heavy lifting activities on operations and development teams. With cloud capabilities, you can focus your energy on offering innovative new 5G services and monetizing them as quickly as possible. At the same time via enabling better resource utilization, leveraging the cloud offers the potential to optimize CAPEX, OPEX and total cost of ownership.
However, every service provider has their own business and operational transformation journey. Every service provider also has existing technology investments to deliver a ROI against. Rome wasn’t built in a day and unlocking the full benefits of cloud-native software and cloud technologies requires a serious strategy. So, where are our customers today?
Cloud provider choice is currently top of mind
When I talk to our customers about their cloud transformations, clear patterns are emerging. One thing in particular has been evident from the offset: service providers want choice. We see a variety of different approaches and choices being made by our customers. Some are working with private cloud, some are moving towards public cloud, and some are embracing a hybrid approach. But they also want choice when it comes to cloud providers.
To meet this need, as a vendor, it’s important for us to offer that choice of deployment options and to be able to stand with our customers in the performance of those platforms.
Five things you need to consider on your journey to the cloud
Picking the right platform for your business is important, but I also see five other factors coming into play.
1. The sooner you start, the better
Not every cloud journey can start at the same time, and today our customers are at varying levels of cloud maturity. Some have opted to use a private cloud platform – like Telefônica Brazil Vivo – and some, like Telefónica Germany/O2, have chosen to implement 5G Core using a public cloud platform (in this instance together with AWS). But no matter where you are on the journey one thing is clear: the sooner you start, the better.
Cloud-native software plays a critical role in unlocking the full revenue potential of 5G applications, but it even goes beyond that. Being first to the cloud means being the first to realize the benefits of economies of scale, and the level of interoperability and efficiency that the cloud offers. As I’ve already mentioned (but cannot stress enough): to meet changing customer expectations and stay competitive, evolving to the cloud is a must.
Another interesting observation is that the more that service providers embrace the cloud, the happier they are – literally. A recent Futurum report showed a strong correlation between cloud adoption and satisfaction rates through service providers’ organizations. Unsurprisingly, this put a big smile on my face too.
2. Collaboration between operations and IT teams must increase
Bridging the gap between network operations and IT is paramount. In the same report, service providers identified SysOps (systems operations, such as lifecycle management and monitoring) and IT coordination as the number one barrier to advancing on their journey to cloud BSS. Now, there’s a big opportunity to break down these silos.
Synchronizing the new capabilities that 5G offers with the ability to monetize them in B2B and B2C markets is of vital importance, and to do this, network and IT operations need to work together.
To succeed on their journey to the cloud, service providers must pay special attention to driving collaboration between these two key business areas and establishing new ways of working that will help make everyone’s lives easier. Streamlining SysOps processes and championing the use of open APIs can unify internal teams on the journey to the cloud – particularly when it comes to BSS transformation.
3. Flexibility trumps immediate cost savings
Interestingly, the main driver behind our customers’ decision making isn’t cost reductions. Service providers are prioritizing flexibility, agility and speed in order to provide the best service for their end customers as quickly as possible – whether that be enterprise or consumers.
This is a smart move, as without flexibility, service providers risk curtailing their future choices, resulting in over-reliance and lock-in with a single cloud provider, and limited options for migrating beyond private cloud initiatives. We also don’t know what the future holds, and although we know that 5G will unlock an exponential amount of revenue opportunities for service providers, we cannot say for certain which use cases and services will drive the most growth at any given time – so being able to experiment and fail fast is crucial. By prioritizing flexibility, service providers can act fast, and react to emerging customer wants and demands and test new services quickly.
To make this possible, providers must establish flexibility while moving to the cloud. This is especially important when working with a partner to power BSS transformation at scale using DevOps, CI/CD and agile software development to address challenges quickly.
4. Strengthen your foundations with CI/CD for DevOps
As we’ve already seen in existing customer projects, with a cloud-native CI/CD software pipeline it’s possible to seamlessly deploy software from product development units into live production environments without human intervention. This is a powerful tool for strengthening agility and reducing time to market for new services, from months to weeks. It can also help bridge the gap between DevOps and IT.
As one of my colleagues explained in a previous article about CI/CD in telecom 5G, in the standard microservice code model that underpins cloud-native software, every time a common code software component is improved it updates all network systems that use that standard code. This approach brings lightning-fast agility and innovation but leaves today’s legacy bi-annual software test and validate processes entirely unfit for purpose. The telecom CI/CD philosophy means that cloud-native software is developed, delivered, tested, accepted, and brought into operation incrementally at a far higher cadence than previously in a traditional service provider environment. For service providers embarking on their cloud journey, CI/CD capabilities must also be factored into the plan.
For more information, download our guide to CI/CD for telecom.
5. None of this is possible without cultural change
At Ericsson, we began our own cloud transformation several years ago – and I’d be lying if I said it was simple. It required a structured approach and a tactical plan for organizational change, which relied heavily on internal communication, value augmentation, collaboration and education. To expedite the process, we needed to secure solid commitments from stakeholders across all of our different business areas – and define a clear strategy for how to best to support our customers through their own cloud transformations.
The journey to the cloud isn’t just about creating new services. It touches every corner of your business, and you need to coordinate cloud transformation efforts across the organization. To truly capture all of the benefits of the cloud, everyone must be onboard.
Securing tomorrow’s market by making inroads today
The enterprise market opportunity is expected to unlock USD 700 billion in addressable revenue for service providers by 2020. This is not something to be overlooked. With this in mind, a stepwise cloud BSS evolution is key for service providers seeking to monetize 5G and establish their place in this highly lucrative new market.
By leveraging cloud capabilities and shifting the focus to enterprise customers, service providers can transition from connectivity and platform providers to digital service providers that continually create innovative new services in collaboration with other ecosystem partners.
If you’d like to hear more about the importance of cloud and the different strategies service providers can take in more detail, don’t forget to view the fireside chat on May 26. Follow Ericsson Digital Services on Twitter for a reminder.
In the meantime, dig deeper into the BSS cloud journey with this new Futurum Research report, The BSS-to-cloud journey: Powering innovation across the digital value chain.
Find out more about Ericsson Telecom BSS solutions
Read about Ericsson’s partnership with AWS and Telefonica Germany
Read about the Ericsson and AWS collaboration in the AWS blogpost
Read the blogpost: Evolving your BSS to the cloud: a business case
Find out more about AWS Cloud Products