When it comes to 5G, a common mistake is to think there is a silver bullet for successful deployment. Often operators assume there is one magic remedy that if introduced to their network, will see them succeed. For example, automation is a key pillar of the 5G era; end-to-end automation maximizes the efficiencies and responsiveness of 5G. However, it would be a mistake to assume there is one method of automation that leads operators to successful 5G deployment. There are a vast range of automation areas and use cases such as network slicing and DevOps that can play a key role.
But first, the key point about there being no silver bullets was part of the reason Nokia commissioned Analysys Mason, a global research organization, to assess and index operators’ maturity and readiness for 5G transformation. With 5G deployment, there are a number of available automation options that need careful consideration.
While the Index made a number of significant findings on operators’ readiness for 5G and provided guidance for how to align technology investments, one of the most intriguing sections was on DevOps. In short, the Index found DevOps, as a key part of network automation, will enhance the impact of 5G on customer experience and service agility, but on the whole is not being adopted.
Key Findings from the 5G Maturity Index
The 5G Maturity Index showed it is paramount operators invest in a variety of digital technologies that can enhance the impact of 5G, including artificial intelligence learning as well as new processes such as DevOps. The following are the most vital findings of the research:
- The 5G world will be characterized by the co-existence of physical and virtual infrastructure for a foreseeable future–without automation, the cost of managing functions across the two worlds will be crippling for operators.
- Even when there is a vision for end-to-end network automation, business process automation is not clearly tied to network automation and is often in its infancy.
- Only 32% of network operators are using or are planning to use DevOps by 2020 as means to improve consumers’ experiences.
- A significant 35% of network operators have no plans to use DevOps at any point.
- The level of confidence in DevOps is low.
- DevOps is becoming the norm in cloud and data center environments, but they are only slowly extending into network services.
Why Deploy in a DevOps Mode?
It’s clear that network operators are not yet deploying in a DevOps mode on a major scale. But what are they missing out on? DevOps has been proven, in the cloud environment, to support rapid and flexible service creation–an important goal for operators. At the heart of DevOps is continuous integration, delivery and deployment. The process enables collaboration throughout the entire development pipeline from concept and building to deployment and testing.
Furthermore, the continuous testing and feedback loops of DevOps enable teams to consistently provide up-to-date and reliable software to customers. This enhances the consumer experience and creates new revenue streams for operators. While operators should consider adopting DevOps, it’s equally important they view it as a part of the automation process–one of the key supporting structures to the building, but not the only one. Together with other vehicles for automation, DevOps is a building block for faster time-to-value and paves the way to an agile 5G environment.
DevOps has a critical role to play in meeting 5G networks’ requirements for faster time to customer and improving the customer’s experiences. What is crucial is that operators remember:
- There is no silver bullet to overall automation, a menu of complementary options is needed.
- DevOps is a critical part of this menu, because of its ability to create efficient processes which ultimately leads to a greater user experience for businesses and their customers.
It’s critical to align digital technologies carefully to an overall transformation strategy with clear objectives–DevOps will be a critical element of this, but do not be tempted to fall for the tale of the silver bullet.
This article was co-authored by Stefan Kindt, technology marketing at Nokia Software. Kindt heads the operations automation and DevOps marketing. Prior to his current role, Stefan was leading the cloud market development at Nokia where he was responsible for the market positioning of Nokia cloud to enterprises and communication service providers. With more than 20 years of experience in the ICT and telecommunications industry, Stefan has extensive knowledge in the data center as well as the telco space, with global market insight and first-hand experience from Asia and Europe.