Harnessing a cloud-based service-layer can help operators transform their communication networks and support the deployment of new services, such as VoLTE, more competitively. Not only does the use of cloud servers negate the need for the physical deployment of network equipment, but it also allows operators to scale cloud-based solutions up or down, depending on the need for capacity at any given moment, in a matter of minutes. By reducing deployment costs, this ‘grow-on-demand’ scalability acknowledges the uncertainty many operators feel towards VoLTE migration rates.
Virtualisation plays a crucial role as an enabler for operators in deploying innovative services like VoLTE with more speed and urgency. While there are standards for VoLTE (a common set of services and features) that will remain the same for all operator implementations, real differentiation will be borne out of moving beyond the “standard”. Operators are missing opportunities to differentiate by ignoring the potential of virtualisation for improving service innovation.
Harnessing the cloud for service innovation
The cloud can offer so much more to operators when used to improve service innovation. For example, traditional test networks do not provide flexibility in terms of making improvements quickly and easily – new changes need to be scheduled in advance, and wait their turn in the queue. Furthermore, the test network is an expensive, scarce resource: some new ideas get blocked simply because uncertainty in the reward fails to secure a slot for the innovation in the test schedule. But virtualisation opens up a new model – instead, it provides developers with a completely new cloud-based ‘test’ network.
This DevOps mentality (an innovation model where development and operational deployment are closely linked) is a useful tool for those operators looking to win and retain high-value enterprise customers. With cloud-based virtualised network functions, each developer group can have their own miniature test network: they can then develop, deploy and test without hindrance. It’s how it happens in other industries, so why not telecoms? By developing new services in this agile DevOps manner operators can provide their customers with innovation that enriches the communication experience.
Of course, there is a tacit assumption here: that the developers themselves have independent freedom to develop, without reliance on equipment vendors to implement the innovation. That would require products that were open to third party development – another conversation altogether.
The innovative and competitive benefits for the operator are clear – in addition to reducing time and cost usually spent on traditional deployment, virtualisation of the service-layer significantly and positively impacts communication service innovation, as well as competitive differentiation for consumer and enterprise services.