How Network Automation Drives Speed, Scalability, and Seamless Integration for Telco

The age of network automation has arrived – and it’s time for companies to reap the profound rewards.

Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) have the power to automate different elements of network operations, including monitoring, configuration, orchestration, optimization, and assurance. The approach brings a multitude of benefits for communications service providers (CSPs), increasing scalability, agility, and speed of network deployment, leading to better service quality and cost and resource efficiencies.

Investments in network automation software grew by 42% from 2020 to 2022, reaching $6.21 billion. The market value is estimated to be more than $17 billion by 2027, according to Appledore research.

As the world increasingly moves towards 5G and its cloud-native approach, network automation will become a pillar of providing enhanced service performance and flexibility.

Speeding Up Network Deployment

Among the many benefits of network automation is that it allows CSPs to drastically reduce the time spent deploying networks. This is in large part because network devices can be provisioned and configured on demand, based on user input.

For example, the network engineer can use standard configuration templates instead of having to individually apply the required configuration and perform an OS upgrade. Engineers often have to configure many devices during new deployments and the network lifecycle. Automation allows this to be done in parallel, ensuring they are operational in minutes rather than days.

Additionally, changing the configuration on a network device is usually done manually by an engineer based on a ticket from the user, requiring time investment. With network automation, however, the user can create the same ticket, but the data is then taken and configured automatically via the API. This speeds up the implementation process and frees up the engineer from doing repetitive work.

Network automation and using standardized templates also minimizes configuration errors, reducing the need to spend time troubleshooting and the risk of human error. Automated systems can also push updates and changes across the system in real time, enabling the swift deployment of patches, updates, and new services.

All of this results in cost savings for telco companies, as the waiting time for network resources provisioning is lowered and engineers spend their time on the most value-adding tasks possible. In fact, CSPs in this VMware study cited reducing operational expenses as their first priority in their network automation journey, followed by accelerating paths to revenue – both of which are contingent on minimizing manual tasks.

A More Scalable Network and Seamless Integration

Telco companies are reaching new levels of network availability, quality, and scalability. Whether adding in new sites or expanding existing networks, automation enables rapid scaling without the proportionate increase in time or resources that would be required manually.

Automated networks can also dynamically adjust resources in response to changing demands, ensuring that they can quickly scale up or down as needed, increasing cost efficiencies and reducing the risk of unplanned downtime due to an overloaded network.

Furthermore, automated monitoring tools provide real-time insights into the network’s performance, enabling telco teams to quickly resolve and detect issues before the end-user is affected.

With automation, the network can be defined as code, enabling it to automatically deploy a test network every time a new change is introduced. This is another factor that increases availability and improves network quality, reducing the risk of network performance interruptions.

Network automation also ensures that configurations are consistent across all devices, reducing the chances of configuration errors and incompatibilities. This standardization allows telcos to smoothly integrate multiple new devices and technologies in parallel. Using pre-determined templates for configurations also enables smooth and uniform deployment of new devices.

What’s more, APIs provided by network automation tools support integration with various platforms and systems. These APIs enable telco companies to create custom integrations and ensure that different network components work together seamlessly.

Overcoming Network Automation Challenges

Of course, implementing network automation is not without its challenges. This process is a complex feat that requires more than just investing in the underpinning technologies.

At the core of many of the obstacles that telcos face while adopting network automation are team capabilities and culture. Before leaders fully embrace automation, they need to ensure that their teams have the correct training and skills to optimize those investments and make the most of their functionalities.

Telco leaders may also emphasize that network automation is not here to take engineers’ jobs – rather assist them to focus on more strategic tasks and avoid repetitive work. To achieve this, leaders should start by introducing small automations, allowing their team members to see and feel the benefits, making them more inclined to buy into larger-scale implementation.

Contrary to what many may believe, pursuing network automation does not have to mean investing in costly Software Defined Networking (SDN) or other enterprise-level solutions. Our team at intive has been able to successfully implement these technologies using open-source tools and APIs. We’ve been able to do this thanks to our experienced network and software engineers who could design and implement the solution using the appropriate tools and based on the client's needs.

Choosing a Trusted Tech Partner

intive can support telco teams both by providing technical expertise as well as cultural and team training to help make network automation a success. We have experience implementing network automation in various environments, helping clients achieve network services on demand. This includes Private Cloud environments, leading to shorter delivery times and lower operational costs.

Our team has developed Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) as an end-to-end automation using the power of APIs and defining Network Infrastructure as Code (NIaC). We’ve achieved this by using version control and CI/CD tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Jenkins, and fully automating network provisioning as a starting point for each network deployment project.

intive can further support telco businesses in identifying the need for automation in their environment, and help them gradually adopt network automation best practices, such as defining use cases, standardizing processes and tools, and implementing robust security measures.

We can help drive the full automation lifecycle, starting with identifying the needs in a pre-study phase, through to planning, designing, implementing, testing, deploying, and maintaining the solution based on the client’s needs.

Not to mention, intive has extensive experience in leveraging AI across domains and building AI/ML solutions that can be used on top of network automation to drive transformation and business results.

Network automation is here – and telco companies who don’t embrace its power fully risk getting left behind. If you’re ready to begin or develop your network automation journey and leverage it for cost savings, resource efficiencies, and better performance, get in touch with one of our experts today.

And if you’re planning to attend Connected Britain 2024, don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with a member of our team – we’d love to see you there and together explore digital transformation for telco!

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