Network automation helps MNOs to tame their network complexity, resulting in much better business outcomes, such as higher reliability, lower operating costs and a network that can support new revenue-generating services.
At MWC Las Vegas 2022, I had a solo presentation as part of a session titled "Road to Zero-Touch Automation" that consisted of 5G luminaries from across the industry, including Cristina Rodriguez from Intel, Vara Prasad from AWS, Murali Gandluru from IBM and Rob Soni from VMware.
During my 10-minute presentation, I demonstrated the advanced automation capabilities that we’ve built into Symworld™, the industry’s first end-to-end, cloud-native telecom operating system built with industrial strength automation to deliver network outcomes at scale.
"Symworld speaks volumes about how easily network automation can be set up and operated network-wide."
All the panel members had a lot to say about automation. They often referred to my opening session, demonstrating how Symworld speaks volumes about how easily network automation can be set up and operated network-wide.
It takes up to nine months to onboard an application on a telecommunication network. This needs to change, and Rakuten Symphony is leading the charge with its Symworld Platform.
Symworld is a cloud native software platform with marketplace capabilities like a developer portal and an operator portal, allowing developers to seamlessly integrate and publish their applications on the Symworld Marketplace and MNOs to add and deploy network software on their networks.
Some of this capability was announced at MWC Las Vegas as well with the introduction of Symops™ Service Assurance.
Symworld is built using uniform APIs and a common data model, which are fundamental building blocks for exposing services for automation. Symworld Developer Portal enables a seamless experience for application developers to integrate their applications with Symworld platform services and publish them on the Symworld Marketplace. This allows Symworld to extend automation to all applications, including third-party applications, in the marketplace.
During my demo, I showed how an MNO could quickly deploy software from the marketplace.
For MNOs, I demonstrated the marketplace capabilities, including the ease of browsing for apps in the Symworld marketplace catalog, selecting one, and deploying it in a network. Lastly, I showed once it's deployed how it can be configured and operated. All these processes demonstrated Symworld’s automated zero-touch software provisioning system.
After the demo, there were two key points I made about automation.
Automation needs to have a robust continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) function to ensure that apps are updated throughout their lifecycle. We have built CI/CD into Symworld. This is how we can manage the distribution, upgrade and lifecycle management of applications on Symworld.
Also, I don’t think enough has been said about securing the automation process. Mobile networks are critical infrastructure, and any change or improvement must have equal or better data security. Non-secure automation could lead to a breakdown in the trust of the software supply chain. With the Symworld approach, apps are vetted, and only those that support the APIs will work on the platform, improving the security dramatically.
"I don’t think enough has been said about securing the automation process."
Network automation is an enabler of a wide range of business outcomes for MNOs, and this discussion at MWC Las Vegas was very valuable. Building automation into Symworld is our way to enable this capability across a wide range of network applications to ensure that these business outcomes can be delivered simply and scaled as the network grows.