As telecommunication service providers (SPs) look to stave off competitive threats from over the top (OTT) providers, they are digitally transforming their operations to greatly enhance customer experience and relevance by automating their networks, applying security, and leveraging infrastructure management. According to EY’s “Digital transformation for 2020 and beyond” study, process automation can help smooth the path for SP IT teams to reach their goals, with 71 percent of respondents citing process automation as “most important to [their] organization’s long-term operational excellence.”
There are thousands of virtual and physical devices that comprise business, consumer, and mobile services in an SP’s environment, and automation can help facilitate and accelerate the delivery of those services. There are three key ways automation can help SPs:
Automating the network. SPs have built networks with massive amounts of hardware and virtual components that are involved in service delivery. They also have extensive operating support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS) that manage the network. Managing and maintaining the network on a device level can be overwhelming, and configuring devices manually can lead to drift where individual devices or systems experience issues due to poorly synchronized configurations.
By automating the processes and configuration surrounding these devices and the supporting OSS/BSS layer, IT teams should be able to focus on problem solving instead of grappling with the behavior of individual devices. Automation also can help simplify multi-vendor networks through the establishment of playbooks that guide the management of the physical and virtual components involved. Real time events (regarding health of network components and devices) can be fed into a Complex Event Processing (CEP) engine to trigger actions and alerts, acting as a sort of self-healing mechanism. This can help further reduce the possibility of downtime increasing service availability.
Ensuring security and compliance. SPs face a wealth of issues when it comes to protecting their networks and meeting security and regulatory compliance requirements. Managing the security and compliance of thousands of individual devices is complex. Automation can help smooth that effort, allowing the standardization of configurations and enforcement of compliance, responsive maintenance of firewall rules, upgrades to drivers and firmware, and centralized control of system changes.
One example where automation can play a key role for security and compliance is with end-of-life or end-of-support components, which may negatively impact network audits. To help SPs be audit-ready, automated, rules-based network scans can help enforce security policies and compliance with regulations and corporate policies across devices.
Organizations may also be able to model event handling and remediation mechanisms and, if needed, identify exceptions needing human intervention. Finally, automation can help improve activity monitoring and recording to facilitate remediations and audits.
Managing infrastructure. SPs must often manage dozens of technologies across their environments, spanning cloud, virtualization, containers, bare metal servers, and networks.. Automation can help SPs manage their infrastructure as code, regardless of whether they run in the cloud, in containers, or on site. As SPs introduce new technologies into their environments, automation can help manage both IT workflows, such as building virtualized servers and maintaining virtual machines (VMs) in supported hypervisors, and application delivery standardization, such as provisioning and automating storage and databases.
Some SPs are turning to Ansible and other tools to embark on their automation journey. Red Hat Ansible Automation, including Red Hat Ansible Engine and Red Hat Ansible Tower, simplifies software-defined infrastructure deployment and management, operations, and business processes to help SPs more effectively deliver consumer, business, and mobile services.
Red Hat Process Automation Manager (formerly Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite) combines business process management, business rules management, business resource optimization, and complex event processing technologies in a platform that also includes tools for creating user interfaces and decision services.
For continuous, in-depth analysis of Red Hat systems, customers can use Red Hat Insights, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering that can proactively identify threats to security, performance, and stability across physical, virtual, and cloud environments as well as container deployments. And Red Hat CloudForms, which helps IT departments control users’ self-service abilities to provision and manage resources, as well as apply corporate policies across physical, virtual, and private clouds, through a single pane of glass.
As SPs continue their path toward digitization, Red Hat is delivering the solutions they need to succeed. For more information on Red Hat Ansible Automation, read our use case overview.