Service providers are under siege. Born-in-the-cloud, over-the-top (OTT) mobile players, such as Skype and WhatsApp, are eating into traditional service provider voice and messaging revenue. According to a new study from Juniper Research, operator-billed mobile voice revenues are set to fall by almost half over the next five years, from $354 billion to $197 billion, as a result of the widespread adoption of OTT messaging and VoIP services.
Turning to NFV and SDN
To combat this trend and remain competitive in a world of unlimited packages and data-driven business models, service providers have begun shifting functions to the cloud to achieve the agility they need to keep pace with OTT providers and to create the cost savings needed for future investments in their networks.
Many operators are turning to network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) as a means of meeting digital transformation pressures. Virtualization offers a viable path to greater efficiencies and significant cost savings, as well as the ability to launch services ‘on the fly’ and support a broad range of applications.
At the same time, these new virtualized networks are also increasingly complex, presenting operators with a wide range of new challenges. Once virtual network functions such as IMS and VoLTE are deployed, and new infrastructure such as cloud-RAN and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), which will be required to support 5G and Internet-of-Things (IoT) requirements, operators will need visibility into both public and private cloud and all points in between. This network visibility will be essential for identifying and resolving past, present and future problems.
With mission-critical services - ranging from everyday business and consumer calls and data sessions to more complex needs of autonomous vehicles, power plant sensors and remote heart monitors - delivery of seamless connectivity will be vital. Even a brief moment of downtime could have devastating consequences.
To ensure reliable connectivity, service providers need real-time, pervasive visibility that delivers insights into both traditional “North/South” traffic flows and new “East/West” traffic of multi-domain, multi-technology networks. That visibility must scale as one of the major challenges mobile operators face is the sheer volume of data being processed. They need to quickly and efficiently identify the right information amidst all the noise in order to optimize the subscriber experience. This is where smart data comes into play.
The Importance of Smart Data
By extracting the most critical information from all the IP data that crosses the network in real time, smart data provides operators with the actionable intelligence they need to identify issues and optimize their infrastructure in keeping with traffic demands. Smart data has the added benefit of being particularly cost-effective when used with virtualized instrumentation that can be pervasively deployed throughout the network.
In order to stay competitive, service providers are coming to recognize the enormous potential for NFV to transform their networks, drive cost efficiencies, and empower new services. As operators continue to virtualize their network elements, and move network infrastructure closer to the edge, harnessing NFV and cloud to deliver new services and support the demands of 5G and the IoT, the need for visibility becomes abundantly clear. With the ability to see, secure, and optimize their network using smart data, mobile operators can take an important step in reclaiming ground lost to OTT service providers.
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