A quarter of the world's service providers do not plan to have all or most of their networks automated by 2025, a new survey finds, despite the benefits automation delivers and enterprise customers' steadily growing use of service level agreements.
The 75% of service providers that expect to achieve full or significant network automation by 2021 primarily invest in network automation for accelerated service delivery, enhanced customer satisfaction, to support more complex and innovative services, and to enjoy increased business agility, according to the survey conducted by ACG Research for Ciena.
The total market for network automation across all industries is projected to increase 48.7% -- reaching $16.89 billion by 2022, up from a mere $2.32 billion in 2017, MarketsandMarkets reported. Although enterprises and their large data centers represent the biggest percentage of network-automation customers, telco adoption is growing along with the size and complexity of their networks and their massive consumption of broadband for video, imaging and gaming files, the report said.
It is easy, then, to argue service provider spending on network automation will reach at least $8 billion by 2022. That amount could be more, as a continued base of enterprises expand their reliance on cloud and managed service providers for all but the most proprietary data. IT departments have long been advocates of network automation, where return on investment of 349% over five years and payback in six months is not unheard of, according to an IDC report on Juniper, cited by CIO.
Challenges and needs
Transforming network operations is not without challenges, of course. Top-ranked obstacles include security; intelligence and analytics and a workforce skilled in telecom networks, traditional IT and software-based advances. Worldwide, 60% of operators surveyed pointed to openness and interoperability as being very important; 82% expect to use open source software from one or multiple vendors, the Ciena-sponsored survey found.
"Operators expect their vendor partners to be able to help them with not only products and services but also with bridging the skills gap between telecom and IT as they execute their automation journey," said Tim Doiron, principal analyst for Intelligent Networking at ACG Research, in a statement.
While several vendors have, indeed, expended resources to bolster their services operations -- investing in personnel, training, marketing and other enhancements -- this focus is not without strong competition from traditional IT integrators and consulting firms, as well as computer vendors' services arms.
It's also critical for operators to monitor these automated systems. Without this capability, networks won't self-heal -- a critical capability to prevent outages and service slowdowns, Jon Lundberg, product line manager for fiber optic field test systems at VIAVI Solutions, told Broadband World News.
Deutsche Telekom just signed an infrastructure project with the Gigabit Region Stuttgart, home to 174 municipalities and almost 3 million people, one of many partnerships the German operator has inked in its bid to grow revenue and business.
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