Re-architecting Infrastructure and Operations for New Growth
Dr. Howard Liang
Experience has become the foundation of retaining users and increasing the user lifetime value. In future, from the end user's point of view, there is no difference between the services provided by carriers and Internet companies, but in the experience, there is still large gap. For example, in China, carriers provide 4G networks with a real-time bandwidth of 100 M bit/s. However, users have to go to the customer service center in person, and generally queue for at least half an hour before they can upgrade their service plan to a 4G service package.
Hence, we must expand our experience focus from networks to end users and services, as experience has also become the driving force for new business growth. This experience is end user journey experience, which was summarized as ROADS: Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social. Based on the good network-based experience achieved by network evolution and operations improvement, to further achieve ROADS Experience, it requires the entire industry to think and explore how to re-architect operations and infrastructure.
Experience is actually “the services we provide to end users” plus “the experience of consumption end users perceive”, that is to say, to quickly provide users with preferred services, and to realize ROADS experience during the process “Buying - Using – Sharing”. The changes in experience lead to new requirements for operations, including the changes of operating model, and the enablement platform for both services and ICT resources. In addition, ICT infrastructure needs to adapt to changes from operations, towards software-defined, virtualized, cloud data center, and ultra broadband, so as to provide real-time, flexible and elastic ICT resources for services. Experience drives re-architecture of operations and infrastructure, and ultimately reflects the business outcomes of the transformation.
Experience improvement is not an overnight task, and re-architecting operations and infrastructure is not a one-off job. The experience improvement is an accumulated business result of every single experience improvement enabled by continuously changes in operations and ICT infrastructure. To improve experience, we should think about two aspects, the interaction experience and customer lifecycle experience. Based on TM Forum's platform, Huawei developed the user consumption journey experience framework together with carriers and partners. According to this framework, every consumption journey can be analyzed and measured, to identify and prioritize where the quantitative improvements are mostly needed. These improvements correspond to key elements of operating model change, including business capabilities, organization, processes, and information. Every experience improvement will drive changes of these elements, and these changes will further drive enabling platform and infrastructure re-architecting.
For Example, users online purchase wider bandwidth for enjoying smooth 4k video service. This needs business capabilities of Real-Time Offering and On-demand Fulfillment, which drive the enabling platform to be able to orchestrate services and resources for 4k video, meanwhile ICT infrastructure to be able to provide real-time and flexible resources for 4k video.
So far we understand that the transformation of operating models has not yet been clearly defined, and many questions have not been answered, such as how the operating models shall be architected, how the changes of business capabilities, organization, processes, and information system shall look like. Therefore many further research and efforts are needed from the entire industry, and Huawei will play a more active role in the industry organizations. For example, we are working with the TM Forum to launch an Omni-channel Management Catalyst Project to create best practice in digital journey design. We are also co-leader of the Digital Business Strategy and Customer Experience Working Group at the Open Group, aiming to understand the experience requirements of different industries. At the same time, we are building Huawei Open ROADS Community, providing hardware, software and environment for testing and authentication services. Based on this community, with carriers, industry organizations, the open source community, researchers, industry partners and consumers, we collaboratively explore, innovate and share operations transformation. As the initial project, Huawei and SAP are applying Design Thinking to prototype the Telecom Future Boardroom to address the many pain points executives face with their business operations. In short, the Future Boardroom will accelerate decision marking via real time information.
The new operating model will drive re-architecture of OSS/BSS towards an enabling platform. Open, real-time, digitized interaction and autonomous, are some of the key words to describe the new platform. The OSS will evolve to an Infrastructure Enablement System (IES), and traditional EMS and OSS will be significantly simplified to become monitoring and fault-handling systems. Service provisioning, service elasticity, and fault isolation and recovery will be part of IES, which is real-time and autonomous system, supporting changes to carriers' experience-driven operating models. The BSS will change into an open Business Enablement System (BES). Huawei has started a series of joint innovation projects with carriers and industry organizations. We are taking the lead in Model-driven Hybrid Service Orchestration via FMO Architecture in a TM Forum Catalyst Project. We are also implementing a Digital Ecosystem/Digital Services project with Orange, and a Digital Front End project with China Mobile.
The purpose of infrastructure re-architecting is to provide services and end-users ICT resources with “Speed, Flexibility and Scalability”. However, re-architecting is not equal to re-building, and we must protect the existing network assets. That is to say, we have to apply virtualization and software-defined networking to the necessary network resources in stages, based on actual business demands. We believe the principles are: to maximize the value of existing network assets, and carry out virtualization and software-defined as required. Based on above principles, we have cooperated with PCCW-HKT on ICT infrastructure re-architecting for video services. Video services require fast startup, no lag phase, and mediation among multiple video standards. With these features, we have identified the key points of re-architecting ICT infrastructure.
The cloud data center is the foundation for re-architecting ICT infrastructure. We have worked with carriers in over 160 cloud data center projects including new-build, consolidation and migration, as well as Huawei's own data center consolidation and transformation. Based on these practices, we believe that building a cloud DC is more about Hybrid Management, meaning: to have more options of changing the operating model of IT, and to manage legacy IT resources, new DC resources and public cloud IT resources through unified management platform and integrated services. By doing so, the cloud data center will become a sustainable ITOE (IT Operating Environment), to provide flexible and agile IT services. And another challenge is to migrate traditional IT services to cloud DC. Evaluate the business value and cost (degree of difficulty) in order to identify and migrate those services that are truly valuable for the business. Based on this, Huawei will invest more in strengthening system integration capabilities of cloud data center, and also improve system integration and O&M capabilities upon traditional IT, with a focus to build cloud management platform.
To achieve resource scalability and flexibility by virtualization and software-defined, it cannot be at the expense of service continuity and longer fault resolution time. This brings new requirements on O&M. Our goal is to achieve a zero-fault customer experience, real-time service recovery and fault resolution through rapid multi-vendor collaboration. Based on our project practices and joint research with partners in the NFV/SDN Open Labs, we are developing tools, platforms, and capabilities in the following four areas: SLA-oriented reliability design, proactive sub-health assessment, Cross-segment & cross-layer fault demarcation, and new ITR processes and management mechanisms. Based on our experiences in Telco and IT, we are confident to continue providing excellent assurance services.
To achieve ROADS experience, we shall synchronize the operations transformation and ICT infrastructure transformation for synergy. Considering the large number of partners among the ecosystem, the transformation process is not an easy way, and a single vendor cannot deliver a complete set of business solution. Huawei is committed to becoming carriers' long-term partner. Through industry collaboration, we will work with carriers to resolve the problems may arise to realize business value.
Through consulting & system integration, Huawei will work with carriers and the entire industry to re-architect the operations and infrastructure. We have already established a new business unit dedicated to IT consulting & system integration services, set up the SPO Lab, Customer Experience Transformation Center (CETC) and NFV/SDN Open Labs. Over the next three years, Huawei will invest US $350 million in developing methodologies, tools, and platforms for operations and ICT infrastructure restructuring, and consulting and system integration services. We will consolidate our own internal product capabilities, fully cooperate with industry partners, align with carriers' different strategies, and provide the best-fit solution both for short term and long term goals, through consulting & system integration, ultimately to facilitate carriers' transformations and achieve the business outcomes of transformation.