When we talk with service providers, network automation is always high on their agenda. As well as dramatically reducing operational costs by automating manual processes, it can help you access bandwidth on demand, and provision new customer services in a fraction of the time it previously took. There are also major benefits in terms of discovering your network resources dynamically. An accurate view of available infrastructure enables you to more holistically plan and implement strategic initiatives that keep you ahead of the traffic demand curve.

We also talk to many customers and prospects who are worried about the practicalities of delivering automation in their businesses. How can you deliver this kind of capability quickly, cost-effectively and – above all – in a way that’s pragmatic and achievable? After all, wholesale OSS upgrades are disruptive and expensive and may require specialist skills and resources which are not found internally. What’s more, even if you can deliver such a major transformational project, it could be months or even years before you start generating returns on your investments.

The pragmatic alternative: a brick-by-brick approach to delivering automation

The alternative to delivering automation as a big bang project, and I think a great alternative for many businesses, is to begin with specific use cases that deliver value immediately. You get incremental value along the journey to the full value that end-to-end, closed-loop automation will deliver in your network.

Building your automation strategy brick-by-brick enables you to:

  • Generate ROI from day 1 - by targeting processes that take the most time and effort, such as manual service provisioning across multi-vendor components and domains. This allows you to reduce staffing costs and maximize utilization of your existing network assets – all of which helps to reduce your operating costs.
  • Increase your automation skillset - with the opportunity to work on specific automation projects that enable staff to build their skills and expertise over time and prepare effectively for future automation projects.
  • Deliver intelligent automation with no additional resources - based on an incremental approach that only requires minimal additional inputs from cross-functional teams, rather than the total focus needed for big bang transformation projects.

So exactly what can you achieve with a brick-by-brick automation approach?

The short answer here is that the sky’s the limit and once you get started, you’ll quickly identify many use cases for intelligent automation that can benefit your business. Having said this, from a practical point of view, below are several automation projects you might consider early on in your digital transformation journey that are already delivering great benefits for our customers.

First, you could consider deploying Ciena’s Blue Planet Multi-Domain Service Orchestration (MDSO) to ensure that capacity is always available at the optical transport layer to support growing customer traffic demands at the Ethernet and IP layers of the network. If the lambda over which you’re transporting packets is reaching its capacity, MDSO’s policy engine and orchestration logic will spin up a new lambda automatically, which is what we call ‘bandwidth on demand’.

Second, why not think about deploying Ciena’s Blue Planet Route Optimization and Assurance (ROA) and our Blue Planet Inventory to maximize your resource utilization and ensure that network changes do not impact performance adversely. These tools give you unprecedented visibility across your network infrastructure, helping you discover capacity across multi-vendor multiple domains, while also ensuring that you always route traffic over your network in the most efficient way possible.

Thirdly, you could consider implementing Blue Planet Network Health Predictor (NHP), which uses machine learning and big data analytics technologies to help you anticipate network issues and failures before they negatively impact services. This means you can take a more proactive approach to network maintenance and evolution and deliver the carrier-grade performance and uptime SLAs your customers demand.

Blue Planet’s intelligent automation capabilities go way beyond these few examples, but I hope you can see that the ‘brick-by-brick’ approach really works. Ultimately, network automation software can help you automate your business processes, increase your service velocity, and maximize your operational efficiency.

The road to intelligent network automation begins with a single step, and a singular customer experience…