How Digital Transformation is changing Projects & Operations for Mobile Carriers
Digital Transformation is a hot topic. It is the term used to describe how day-to-day life and the operations of businesses are changing in response to the widespread adoption of digital technology and process automation. It is driving the shift to electronic and mobile commerce, greater use of cloud services, and the move to a more “paperless” world where printed documents and forms are becoming increasingly redundant.
Digital Transformation means different things to different industries but is characterised by the following:
- Replacement of ‘silos’ of business application software installed on physical hardware with cloud services implemented on virtual platforms.
- Emergence of new sales channels – internet and mobile online stores replacing high-street shops
- Exploitation of new business models (e.g. advertising) to complement subscription-models.
- New change processes to bring new functionality and services to the market as quickly as possible.
- Full automation of end-to-end processes. Manual intervention in routine operations kept to a minimum.
Like all industries, Mobile Carriers are also heavily engaged in implementing Digital Transformation projects in order to take advantages of all the benefits and features of modern technologies. Networks are no longer built completely on racks of proprietary hardware. Increasingly, network functions are fully software based using virtual servers, and this trend is accelerating with the widespread adoption of NFV (Network Functions Virtualization). As network infrastructure changes, so to must project and operations processes. A process designed around the installation and operations of a network function on a proprietary hardware rack is completely unsuited to the deployment and support of a network function on a virtual software platform.
Operations procedures need to change so that Carriers can benefit from the flexibility that their new software-based networks offer. Project timescales at Mobile Carriers used to be measured in many months, if not years. The goal of Digital Transformation should be to reduce those timescales to days, if not hours. In this way new features, security patches and capacity changes can be implemented as soon as required by both the network and its subscribers. The common goal for both vendors and operators should be to generate greater operational and network efficiencies by combining development, test, staging and validation systems across their work environments.
Openmind Networks is working with our customers to implement new project delivery and support processes that are designed specifically for the virtualized software-based network. We want to make sure our customers get early access to the features and fixes that they need to run their services. To that end, we have launched a new “DevOps” Continuous Delivery process using agile principles that provides a seamless, automated implementation flow between our development, test & deployment teams and the operations staff at our network customers. New software that we create is put through a stringent series of automated tests before being released to a central delivery platform hosted in a secure environment. Staging platforms at customers sites are configured to retrieve the latest Openmind software on a regular basis, and again test it extensively using automated test tools before it is introduced into service.
DevOps will greatly reduce the resources our customers need to dedicate to updating their messaging platforms. This new way of working will ensure our customers always have access to the latest software, and will eliminate barriers to innovation and experimentation with new services and features.
DevOps also changes how the relationships we have with our customers. In the past, we would typically run an upgrade project with a customer every 2 or 3 years, and have very little communication with those customers outside of the upgrade period. With this new model, we are constantly in touch with our customers, providing them with new features, and gaining feedback on how changes to our software benefits the operator and subscribers.
According to Gene Comiskey, Head of Deployments at Openmind, “DevOps allows us to build much deeper relationships with our customers. It is a Win-Win for both sides. Resources and costs involved in deployments and upgrades are greatly reduced for ourselves and our customers, allowing more room for innovation and a new focus on revenue generation opportunities. Digital Transformation has brought new life to mobile messaging services, and will allow our customers to run these services profitably for many years to come”.
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