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Most mobile ops are still manual Nokia claims

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Lack of speed kills, so operators told at TM Forum event to automate before it’s too late

Nokia surveyed 101 service providers asking about the level of automation in the running of their networks and discovered that 60% were run on manual processes. Just 40% of the functions of a network are handled automatically, Nokia found.

‘That was OK for yesterday's environment, but it's definitely not working OK for tomorrow's,’ Hamdy Farid VP of Nokia Business Applications Unit told an audience at the TM Forum's Digital Transformation World conference.

Farid had been invited to address delegates on automation, which has become a crucial survival skill in the mobile telecoms industry. Engineers understand this but they must find a way to convince management to expedite the change in business culture, Farid warned.

Automate today or be gone tomorrow

Farid said board members need to be made aware of the number of variables there are in the new architecture model, each of which is in constant change.

He said decision makers who hesitate with automation need to understand the workload created when their entire estate is a fluid composition of public clouds, private systems run on the premises and dynamic hybrids.

He added  there aren’t enough skilled support staff available to keep pace with all the changes the networks will create.

The challenge is to impress upon stakeholders that the new consumption model is even more demanding, unpredictable and likely to change shape instantly. The decision makers need to understand how crucial it is that these demands are matched with new levels of service agility.

Mobile operators have been promoted to a much higher level of competition and mistakes will be instantly punished. The boards of mobile operators must understand how important it is to keep pace and the only way to achieve that speed of movement on every level is to train machines to do the job, according to Nokia.

5G slicing exemplifies the importance of automation

Farid offered some examples of how it should be done. Open RAN advocate Indosat has been rolling out lifestyle services, Sinch has managed to reduce the time to create services from months to minutes, he told delegates.

Vodafone managed to reduce the time to isolate and resolve network issues by almost 30 percent, using an IIML anomaly detection system. US operator Dish’s automation efforts were also praised.

The concept of 5G slicing could be a great exemplar for any CIO trying to convince the right people of the need for automation, said Farid. Engineers know that a successful 5G service hinges on “end to end automation across all the domains across different stages of the services lifecycle” and that without working with split second timing nobody can “monetise the service successfully”, Farid said.

Raise awareness at C-level

However, at C-level there is no universal awareness of this. “You need to have a deep understanding of the usage pattern. All of this is a clear indication that managing our service and managing our network using manual or segregated processes is not the way to go. There's a clear need for a secure, intelligent automation.

"We're working with many service providers across multiple geographies, seeing different sides of different technology, " said Farid, who issued a prophetic warning: "So, to all service providers out there, you have to invest in automation now or you're risking your future.”