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Tags: Mobile and 5G, Optical
October 22, 2019

Digital Transformation Is on the Way, Big Time!

By Christian Uremovic
Director of Marketing


Last week I attended the Layer 123 SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague, Netherlands, and I had one major takeaway from the event, triggered, unsurprisingly, by the evolution and maturation of 5G: digital transformation.

Digital transformation isn’t a new concept for businesses, and many would be surprised that service providers still have not fully adopted the concept. Although they have in some aspects of their operations, especially in most front-office and back-office business functions, even today, many have not digitally transformed how their underlying networks operate.

But let’s step back for a moment and define “digital transformation.” Most define it something like “the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.” Thank you, The Enterprise Project.

AI’s Role in Digital Transformation

What was evident at the show was that some operators are moving faster than others, but everyone is finally moving. One highlight was from BT’s Global Head of Security Research and Innovation, Ben Azvine. During his presentation, titled “AI and Cybersecurity,” he showed real-world, tangible use cases and realistic views of what is possible today and in the near future. While the development of AI is certainly accelerating and mature, we are only now starting to see how it can transform a service provider’s network.

You can download all the presentations from the Layer 123 website.

Tier 1 Transformations

During my panel discussion “Tools and Technology Adaption in Support of SDN Automation: A Tier 1 Perspective” with Hwa-Jung Han, Director of SDN Technology, Architecture, and Planning at Verizon, we discussed the target network architectures that are ready for machine-to-machine communications and what is still needed to get there, including open standards-based data model support, open APIs, and of course further evolution of and improvements to data models.

We also touched on how SDN automation tools can be used to migrate from legacy infrastructures to next-generation networks. It is clear that for some operators, including Verizon, that migration journey has started, but only after the goals and requirements were well defined. I have enjoyed talking with Hwa-Jung and like her clarity and passion for the journey Verizon is taking here.

Proving Digital Transformation

On the Content Hub, an open stage on the show floor, Jutta Kempainnen, Infinera’s Sr. Principal Product Manager for Transcend Management and Automation Software, showed off a real-world example of multi-layer, multi-vendor, end-to-end service provisioning; programmable closed loop automation; and  traffic prediction utilizing machine learning. This really demonstrated the power of open SDN solutions and its capabilities in a multi-vendor environment.

It was clear, at least from my perspective, that network operators are deploying and adapting SDN solutions to support effective network automation and that the benefits have been proven. Next year’s Layer 123 event will focus even more on network automation and digital transformation.