Onwards and Upwards
Entertainment companies, from retailers to video game developers, have fast-tracked the world of virtual experiences. Long gone are physical video game cartridges and tiresome trips to the store. The era of downloadable titles and VR- and AR-powered shopping sessions are here to stay with increasing pace. Obviously, this new experiential world simply doesn’t appear out of thin air.
Even at great distances, these latency-free interactions require support for enterprise workloads, which can only run on highly reliable, on-demand, distributed and auto-scalable networks. If you’re a communications service provider (CSP), you’re well aware that 5G is a supercritical piece of any network offering that can meet today’s customer demands.
By some estimates, successfully monetizing 5G can increase average revenue per user (ARPU) up to 20%. Despite this clear and present opportunity, CSPs have not yet taken the reins. CSP-led projects accounted for just 16% of all enterprise 5G forays in 2021. That number is down from 21% in 2020.
Why? One reason might be a lack of trust from enterprises. Enterprises prefer to execute their own 5G strategy. After the DIY route, they’d choose a cloud services provider. Traditional CSPs represent just the third-most-popular option for large companies chasing the 5G market opportunity.
CSPs must transform into digital service providers (DSPs) to offer new services that can capitalize on 5G network investments. This new breed of providers can leverage 5G networks and cloud-based network architectures to deliver innovative offerings, on-demand scaling, new product launches and service assurances.
If my experience tells me anything, CSPs should consider these four considerations to accelerate transformation journeys and monetize 5G ahead of the competition.
1 – Ensure Freedom of Choice
“Vendor lock-in” is an all-too-familiar phrase for enterprises deciding which technology platforms to pursue. If an analytics solution isn’t compatible with the same cloud provider as an orchestration platform, organizations may be left paying for a myriad of different offerings. Especially in a highly distributed environment, lack of choice quickly becomes untenable.
To improve user experience and offer premium services, CSPs must ensure that the edge cloud they offer is agnostic to existing cloud providers. To do so, they can build 5G solutions that host any application’s edge component agnostic of their regional cloud deployment. Freedom of choice is the only way CSPs can deliver the best connectivity to all these cloud providers with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS).
2 – Design Portable, Open Networks
The unified horizontal platform is crucial for the converged network solutions and enterprise workloads journey forward. CSPs should ensure their platform supports any workload with or without specific requirements.
CSPs need to ensure their platform provides customers the choice to move workloads seamlessly. For example, CSP offerings should enable customers to move an application from edge to regional cloud and regional to edge cloud in a distributed architecture.
A platform vendor with a single unified pane of management for the distributed, multi-cloud platform with a robust vendor partner ecosystem can ensure seamless swap of network or enterprise workloads without vendor lock-in, if necessary, at any time after deployment without service disruption.
3 – Build Standards-Based Solutions That Integrate Legacy Networks
Siloed platforms and systems are complex to manage. CSPs must ensure unified operations with standards-based solutions to transform into DSPs. CSPs need not start from scratch. Standard bodies and industrial forums such as 3GPP, O-RAN, ETSI, ONAP, and TM Forum provide specifications and orchestration frameworks.
Existing standards offer a sound foundation for orchestration and analytics solutions, such as Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF), RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), and Service Management and Orchestration (SMO). These standards-based solutions simplify network operations with closed-loop procedures, paving the way for autonomous operations in the future.
Moreover, some vendors integrate legacy RAN, and network functions support these 5G functions. Leveraging existing vendors and standards will provide CSP customers with easier operations and reduced operating expenses.
4 – Ensure Customer Experience at Abnormal Conditions
Distributed networks allow for solutions we never once imagined. However, a distributed world also invites new disruptions that require immediate attention. No matter what solution CSPs develop, they must include features, such as auto-scaling, burst to the cloud, intelligent operations with prediction, and root cause analysis. These features will help ensure the quality of experience for subscribers without any service or quality compromises while providing a reliable, highly available (HA or five-nine availability) of network services.
What Might a DSP Solution Look Like?
DSPs will compete on innovation and ingenuity. Despite the need for differentiation, it’s clear modern solutions will have a few things in common. Namely, vendor agnosticism, portability, a standards-based foundation and resilience. What does the DSP solution of the future look like?
First, DSPs can create baseline plans with bandwidth, such as pre-5G network and SLA-bound with the standards-based implementation of network slices.
Then, they can build an over-the-top (OTT) service or application bundled with optional SLAs for increased bandwidth. Does your analytics engine need more speed for year-end reports? Purchase a bit of increased network capacity for a quarter.
Finally, service providers can leverage open network APIs to produce additional insights from anonymized data. They can then offer per-transaction pricing for data consumption to partner vendors.
Successful Transformation Yields Immense Benefits
Building digital offerings with these considerations offer numerous benefits to the entire ecosystem. CSPs can continue their transformation journey while differentiating themselves from the competition and their legacy RAN and network investments. OTT and application vendors and subscribers benefit from an improved experience. CSPs and partner vendors can share anonymous insights to improve troubleshooting and resolution capabilities.
The 5G revolution is well underway, and CSPs stand to benefit immensely by transforming into DSPs and evolving their offerings. The opportunity is theirs for the taking–now they must choose to take it and lead the way.
Shout Out to CSPs
Network design and implementation are complex tasks requiring a trusted RAN to cloud platform vendor partner to ensure success.
VMware enjoys a unique position as a trusted platform and automation solutions partner for enterprises and CSPs. We have helped CSPs in the past to implement carrier-grade virtualized network functions (VNFs) with LTE by offering a unified, high-performance platform, a foundation for the next phase of cloud-native, distributed multi-cloud journey by CSPs with 5G.
The VMware Telco Cloud portfolio of products, solutions, and services includes Telco Cloud Platform, Telco Cloud Automation, Telco Cloud Operations, RIC, and Tanzu. They are engineered for high-performance, converged hybrid multi-cloud operations, reduced carbon footprints, and efficient resource utilization aligning to VMware’s vision of Any Cloud, Any App, Any Device. Its extensive vendor partner and developer ecosystem can accelerate deployment and ensure a CSP or its partner can develop and deploy new functions at scale with faster time to market.
To understand more about how VMware is enabling the digital service provider transformation, please visit telco.vmware.com.