Features & opinions | CXO Summit, Digital Transformation World Series

DTWS: The road to a cloud-native telco: Why, where and how?

August 17, 2022 | DTW news room

Telcos recognize the need to adopt cloud-native technologies, but that does not make it simple. In the second invitation-only CXO Summit of  Digital Transformation World Series senior executives from AT&T, Microsoft, Telenor and Bain & Company tackled the key questions facing telcos as they embark on the cloud-native journey, including business models, standardization and partnerships. This is an anonymized summary of their exchange.

There is fast-growing momentum behind cloud-native technology adoption in the telco industry, which will allow communication service providers (CSPs) to operate at what one participant described as “the speed of software.”

“Something that we used to spend months and even years deploying … takes less than two days to do that today.”

In addition to speed, the potential to reduce costs is an important driver.

“Everyone will benefit from a lower cost structure. A software-based solution … allows people to roll out new and innovative services at a much lower price point, much faster.”

For example, “an improvement in cost structures can come from no longer having to maintain a dedicated software stack”, with a cloud hyperscaler partner instead providing the software cloud and the cloud technology stack, said one speaker.

Automation and access to data

Scalability, automation and ready access to data, which CSPs can use to improve customer experience are key also considerations.

“It’s not only the cost reduction; … it’s really our ability to scale. Only when we move to the cloud can we obtain this full automated [and intelligent] operation … where we not only improve the time to market but the quality of the data and quality of managing the customer in a relevant way.”

An open ecosystem and the promise of a standardized offering on a common platform “increase CSPs’ range of [technology] options,” said one speaker although at the same time they caution “there are some very practical challenges.”

And before CSPs adopt a cloud-native model, they should weigh up the long-term strategic implication of their choices, advised one participant.

“We want to think about where we want to be as infrastructure separates out, as servcos and techcos are built out – [because] that’s the reality of [the next] 10 years.”

The impact of disaggregation

One of the imminent challenges CSPs face is having to integrate and manage an environment of disaggregated hardware and software within a multi-vendor environment, which they will need to take into account as they weigh up their choices.