International Telecoms Week was held on 23-26 June 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. It brought together upwards of 7000 attendees from more than 2000 companies and 135 countries, so you can be sure CodiLime was front and center for the event, keen to strike up new relationships. Here are our impressions.
We were thrilled to have taken in the Zero Touch Network panel discussion, as the panelists discussed Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP). Two main approaches were presented: the vendors’ approach, for which ZTP offers a way to configure a device just after plugging it into the network and client’s approach for which it is important to be able to self-provision network connectivity by means of a dedicated portal of a set of APIs.
Bear in mind, real intelligence still falls to humans: the introduction of policies can be automated, but it is still people that create them. With the approach to the network as a set of API call, it is critical to have those in place in order not to break what’s already running. Of course, routers exist, and will continue to do so, but the idea is to put an abstraction layer above them. This is especially important in the context of 5G.
The 5G network was also a topic on the second panel: The Future Network - how content demands, new network infrastructure and 5G are shaping the network of tomorrow. All the panelists agreed that we need a good use case to start introducing 5G. The ones with low latency requirements seem to be the most obvious candidates. Indeed, the need to have 5G varies by country. Portugal, for example, has high fiber and nearly 100% 4G coverage, so the country’s consumer market would not appear as desperate for coverage (especially as indoor coverage is difficult to achieve).
Another problem the panelists discussed was the current approach to infrastructure ownership by telcos: everyone wants to have their own equipment. Such an approach is very expensive and only rarely results in comprehensive coverage. It is also not aligned with today's requirements for the network. To achieve that on a global scale, interoperability between the carriers, service providers and cloud providers will be a must. Such interoperability would have to occur not only in the data plane (as is the case today), but also in the control plane. This would make it possible to create an E2E path, all done via APIs. In addition, the network should be shared among different operators by means of SDN and APIs, all in an automated manner. Existing vertical automation silos need to be replaced with a horizontal intelligent and automated data exchange. With such an approach, it will be possible to introduce provisioning all the way.
Last but not least, the panel discussion Women in telco: creating a practical pathway to a diverse workplace addressed the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry. All of the panelists agreed that this challenge must be tackled to achieve a truly diverse workplace.
The International Telecoms Week conference shows us that a great deal remains to be done, but the direction has been clearly set: SDN, automation, agility. These are the major trends in the telecommunications world. It was also great to have the chance to share our opinions and views with representatives from other companies, broadening our prospects and ensuring that CodiLime is on the right track when it comes to networking solutions.