Future virtual networks will bring the much-needed business agility, network agility and service agility to telcos.
But this raises a question:
Are telcos’ operational structures, processes and operation teams ready to handle such agility?
And if not, what do telcos need to meet such challenges?
In fact, organizations need to evolve, one way or the other, to the DevOps model—the agile operational model effectively used by many cloud-based companies.
But even though DevOps is not new, many people oversimplify its concepts when applied to telcos. They may think it is just combining the “Dev” functions with the “Ops” functions in an organization, with more automation.
However, it is more than these functions. Above all, it is about a big cultural change in an organization that involves open communication and collaboration among every unit, beyond just development and operation teams. And, it is about working for organizational objectives rather than departmental objectives.
And perhaps an easy way to understand DevOps is to understand what is not DevOps.
Let’s see Telco A running without DevOps.
The departments work in walled silos with less collaboration and communication. A customer approaches the telco with an innovative service request. What happens is a typical “handover” process between the teams:
- The business analysts map the customer service request into features and “handover” to the development
- The development team develops the software and hands it over to the QA (quality assurance) team.
- The latter tests it and either returns it or hands it over to the Ops team.
- Which implements it and hands it over to the customer
And here is the bad part:
Considering every group takes a couple of weeks to work on its part, the service takes a very long time to get implemented—maybe two to three months. And worse may happen if the customer is not satisfied with the final service because this did not meet his design requirements. The customer has lost confidence and trust even if the cycle repeats again to modify the service. And don’t forget the blame game among the teams over who was responsible for not implementing the customer requests correctly.
This is a lose-lose situation for everyone.
Now think of another organization with DevOps implemented as shown below, a Telco B. There is less of a handover and more of mutual collaboration and feedback environment between all departments. The departments’ silos are broken. Even the customer is on-boarded to the feedback cycle here.
Most likely, the business analysts have taken the business request and converted it into a limited features sample to implement. The plan is given to developers to implement quickly. The code is developed, tested and shown to the customer or a limited number of customers to take their feedback, and if they are happy, the full service is developed with peace of mind that the customer will be satisfied. DevOps has resulted in true agility and service velocity here.
Therefore, DevOps is more than just development talking to the operation or tight integration between them. It is more than just continuous development and automation. It starts from the time the business department takes the customer’s request until the time the customer sees his request implemented, finally.
In the complete life cycle of the service, every unit is contributing to a single goal on how to meet the final customer objective. Every unit is taking feedback from the other unit to improve its part.
In the end, the service is launched faster and more reliably, enabling true agility. This is the true win-win situation.
Implementing DevOps requires a long-term roadmap that would need a deliberate plan from every telco. ACG has done extensive research and published a white paper here on the issues around implementing DevOps, giving a step-by-step approach to its implementation. I encourage you to read the paper to get some insights.
In the end, do let me know what DevOps mean to you. Is your organization ready to take this transformational challenge? Send your feedback below.