Digitial Transformation

5GAI/MLBig DataDigitial Transformation

Transforming Telecom with AIOps: Use Cases and Applications!

AIOps stands for Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations. It is a technology that combines machine learning, big data analytics, and other artificial intelligence techniques to automate and improve IT operations. AIOps is designed to help organizations manage and optimize their IT infrastructure, applications, and services more efficiently and effectively.

AIOps uses advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to analyze large volumes of data generated by IT systems and applications. It can identify patterns, detect anomalies, and provide insights into the root cause of issues. AIOps can also automate routine tasks, such as monitoring, alerting, and incident management, freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic activities.

One of the key challenges faced by modern organization is processing infinite amount of data, which could easily overwhelm operations teams. Moreover, beyond just processing, making sense of information, esp. Operational awareness is critical for success of today’s IT Operations.

Another key driver for adoption of AIOps in modern IT Organization, is adoption of multi-cloud. While many organizations, including Telco Service providers, still have large on-prem deployments, public cloud/hybrid cloud has entered the premises, where few workloads have already made shift to Cloud. Operationalizing (Day1/2 and beyond) multi-cloud environments, with enormous amount of data gathered, is next level challenges IT Ops teams must tackle daily.

While AIOps solutions catering to modern IT Organization, for Telco Service providers, AIOps is domain specific challenge to solve. The main difference is data they directly collect and use cases they solve, beyond typical AIOps Use cases offered in IT Organizations. It could be termed as Domain specific AIOps, while Domain Agnostic AIOps caters to wider IT landscape and use cases.

Components of AIOps: Gigaom AIOps Trends Report (2023)

In the telecom industry, AIOps can be used to improve network performance, reduce downtime, and enhance the customer experience. AIOps can help telecom operators monitor and manage their network infrastructure, detect, and resolve issues in real-time, and optimize network resources to meet changing demands. AIOps can also help telecom operators analyze customer data to gain insights into customer behavior and preferences, enabling them to offer more personalized services and improve customer satisfaction.

AIOps is a rapidly evolving field, and new use cases and applications are emerging all the time. Some of the key trends in AIOps include the use of AI and ML to automate IT operations processes, the integration of AIOps with DevOps and other IT processes, and the use of AIOps to improve security and compliance. As AIOps continues to evolve, it is likely to become an increasingly valuable tool for IT teams in a wide range of industries, including telecom.

How AIOps differs with Modern IT Operations in Telecom:

One big question arises among many Telco Service providers is that, how AIOps differs from their tradition Operations. It’s quite an interesting question. Let’s discuss it briefly.

If you look at modern IT or even Telecom Service providers, Monitoring or even modern Observability stack is quite siloed. Multiple vendors/partners have built solutions to monitor and operationalize their own stacks. E.g. Network Vendors such as Cisco or Juniper offer Network Observability data of their devices separately or even Platform/Cloud Providers, offer Platform level metrics and logs stored in their respective Observability solutions. In addition, Application providers, they offer their application specific monitoring tools, which are also siloed in most cases.

For Service providers, it creates a huge challenge to get complete picture of their entire network and organization at one place. Moreover, amount of data needs to collect, gathered from multitude of systems, and processed at one place such as central data lake is daunting task for them.

Modern AIOps tends to solve these sets of challenge. Irrespective of if you have implemented central Observability solutions (refer ELK or EFK stack) in your organization, AIOps solutions can collect, gather, and process infinite amount of data with help of advance AI/ML/Deep Learning Algorithms and help to generate actionable insights from the data quickly. It certainly helps to leverage central data warehouses or data lakes, if already available, but we have seen many AIOps solutions doesn’t mandate to have your own data lake built, which is quite a big relief for most of the service provider.

Moreover, as mentioned, many service providers have adopted multi hybrid cloud solutions for their 4G/5G deployments, which create Operational silos and overheads. AIOps solutions can address these challenges with multi-cloud, multi-platform metrics collection and offer single pane of glass to Operational team without worrying about siloed monitoring stacks offered by multiple partners.

AIOps Use Cases in Telecom

AIOps in Telecom has several use cases that can help telecom companies to improve their operations and customer experience. One of the primary use cases is network management. AIOps can help telecom companies to monitor their network infrastructure, identify issues, and resolve them proactively. This can help to reduce downtime, improve network performance, and enhance customer satisfaction.

Another use case of AIOps in Telecom is customer service. AIOps can help telecom companies to analyze customer data and provide personalized recommendations to customers. This can help to improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn rate. AIOps can also help to automate customer service processes, such as ticket routing and resolution, which can save time and resources for telecom companies.

One of the most popular use cases of AIOps in Telecom is predictive maintenance & fault remediation. AIOps can help telecom companies to predict equipment failures and schedule maintenance activities proactively. This can help to reduce downtime, improve network performance, and save costs for telecom companies. AIOps can also help to optimize maintenance schedules based on real-time data, which can further improve efficiency and reduce costs.

There are few upcoming trends in Telecom including sustainability, driving AIOps in Telecom to gather power consumption data across various topologies, analyse it and predict the future power consumption or drive power efficiency to automate life cycle of various infra components. Red Hat Inc, the Open-Source Software giant, has recently announced one such CNCF initiative, Project Kepler, which gathers various energy level metrices of Kubernetes clusters including Pods and Nodes, and export it. Red Hat intends to integrate Kepler in future OpenShift releases.

Finally, AIOps can be used for capacity planning in the Telecom industry. AIOps can help telecom companies to analyze network traffic data and predict future demand for network resources. This can help to optimize network capacity and ensure that telecom companies can meet the growing demand for data services. AIOps can also help to identify underutilized resources and optimize resource allocation, which can further reduce costs for telecom companies.

Benefits of using AIOps

AIOps in Telecom offers several benefits over traditional methods. One of the primary advantages is the ability to automate and streamline operations. AIOps can monitor and analyze vast amounts of data in real-time, allowing for faster and more accurate decision-making. This can lead to increased efficiency, reduced downtime, and improved customer satisfaction.

The benefit to automate and streamline remediation (Respond) is becoming critical aspect in evaluating benefits of AIOps solutions. Many IT Organization and Telco Service providers are adopting various IT Automation solutions including Ansible Automation to automate various manual repetitive tasks including various Operational processes. One such example is Red Hat Event Driven Ansible, announced in Red Hat Summit 2023. With event driven Ansible, now, AIOps solutions such as Dynatrace AIOps, can trigger execution of certain Ansible Playbooks directly without any manual intervention, leading to auto-remediation of operational issues discovered by AIOps solutions.

AIOps in Telecom can also help to reduce costs by optimizing resource utilization. By analyzing data on network traffic, usage patterns, and other factors, AIOps can identify areas where resources are being underutilized or overprovisioned. This information can be used to make more informed decisions about resource allocation, leading to cost savings and improved efficiency.

Another benefit of AIOps in Telecom is the ability to detect and resolve issues before they become critical. According to IBM, AIOps can reduce network downtime by up to 80%. A By leveraging machine learning and predictive analytics, AIOps can identify patterns and anomalies in data that may indicate a potential problem. This allows for proactive measures to be taken to prevent issues from occurring, rather than simply reacting to them after the fact.

Finally, AIOps in Telecom can help to improve the overall quality of service. By monitoring and analyzing data on network performance, customer behavior, and other factors, AIOps can identify areas where improvements can be made. This can lead to better service delivery, increased customer satisfaction, and improved business outcomes.

How Telcos using AIOps

Telecom companies are currently implementing AIOps in their operations in numerous ways. One of the most common use cases is in network management. AIOps can help telecom companies to monitor their networks in real-time, identify potential issues, and take proactive measures to prevent downtime. This can lead to improved network performance, increased customer satisfaction, and reduced costs. And as mentioned above, Predictive Maintenance and Fault remediation is one the popular use cases under network management category.

Telecom companies are also using AIOps in their marketing and sales operations. AIOps can help to analyze customer data and provide insights into customer behavior and preferences. This can help telecom companies to develop targeted marketing campaigns and improve their sales strategies.

Another way that telecom companies are using AIOps is in customer service. AIOps can help to automate customer service processes, such as chatbots and virtual assistants, which can provide customers with quick and efficient support. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs for telecom companies.

Finally, telecom companies are using AIOps in their security operations. AIOps can help to detect and respond to security threats in real-time, which can help to prevent data breaches and other security incidents. This can lead to improved security and reduced costs for telecom companies.

Trends in AIOps for Telcos

A trend that is emerging in the use of AIOps in the Telecom industry is the integration of machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms into network operations. This allows for real-time monitoring and analysis of network performance, enabling proactive identification and resolution of issues before they impact customers.

According to BMC, approx. 75% of telecom organization plan to adopt AIOps in near future. Moreover, there are certain market reports, which states that telecom industry is expected to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in AIOps adoption.

One major trend we see clearly emerging is the use of AIOps for predictive maintenance and fault rectification/remediation. By analyzing data from network devices and sensors, equipment providers, ticketing systems, weather monitoring system etc AIOps tools can identify potential equipment failures before they occur, allowing for proactive maintenance and reducing downtime. Moreover, there’s growing trend to use IT Automation tools such as Ansible Automation to automate auto-remediation of Operational issues, discovered by AIOps solutions, without manual intervention.

Telecom companies are also using AIOps to improve customer experience. By analyzing customer data and behavior, AIOps can provide personalized recommendations and solutions, as well as identify potential issues before they become complaints. AIOps is also being used for network automation, enabling the creation of self-healing networks that can automatically detect and resolve issues without human intervention. This reduces the need for manual troubleshooting and allows for faster resolution times.

Moreover, we do see growing interest of using AIOps solutions to drive Telco sustainability goals. It’s likely to drive AIOps adoption faster among Telco service providers, esp. where tools such as Red Hat Kepler capturing Kubernetes Pod and Node power metrics and export it for further analysis and automate infra life cycles.

Finally, there is a trend towards the use of AIOps for security and fraud detection. By analyzing network traffic and user behavior, AIOps can identify potential security threats and fraudulent activity, enabling proactive measures to be taken to prevent them.

(All views are personal. All reference citations are for reference purpose and owned by respective Organization).

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5GCloudDigitial Transformation

Telcos let’s make a distinction between Platforms & Clouds!

(For sake of convenience Cloud is referred as Public Cloud in this blog)

For past few months, I noticed there’s deep sense of dilemma among Telcos on various transformational aspects, esp. when they are adopting hybrid cloud for digital transformation. Understandably this dilemma is good thing on Telcos part, but making right choices, with dilemma is not an easy task, and let me elaborate a bit further.

Telcos indeed embarked on digital transformation journey few years back. Few are ahead in the journeys, while others are just getting started. As part of the journeys, telcos need to undertake multiple journeys to transform various aspects of their entire business, be it network getting transformed or their IT or even their customer experience. Everything should or would undergo transformation, and the end goal is to build digitally transformed, more agile organization, ready to adapt and drive market to next level.

This isn’t easy goal to achieve. Its multi-year committed transformation journey, would require millions or even billions of USD, and would not only help telcos be more agile, but also earn more revenue through transformation and new value-added services portfolio but offer better overall customer experience in general.

Now coming back to dilemma, which I raised at start. To transform themselves, telcos need to build robust platforms, on top of which transformed telco would reside, build, scale their services offerings. Imagine platform is a layer of infrastructure, which is agile enough to adapt to market needs, and help telcos build their newer services on top, to cater, not only existing but newer market opportunities in long run. Now, their existing platforms, on which they built their services, including network, IT, or even bit of enterprise, aren’t agile, robust enough to take them to next level.

Indeed, they need newer platforms for sure. But what platforms they need to choose and should they adopt Cloud as Platform is a real dilemma.

Let me clarify a bit more here.

A cloud (or specifically Public Cloud) is not just a platform, but holistic (or complete) platform, which comes with offerings such as marketplace with third party & community app store, billing/metering, DC/DR, Backups, Storage, Observability, AI/MLOps Automation, Serverless and many more capabilities, with inherent mix of infinite scalability, elasticity, and resiliency. If you look at telcos existing platform, there is already infrastructure in place, a layer mix of hardware and software, very niche, proprietary, siloed one, which does offer resiliency (to some extent) but not elasticity or scalability to the extent public cloud offers.

Do Telcos need all these Public Cloud like platform features to get transformed?

I wonder the answer is yes, but not all of capabilities are must to have for them. Eventually, for a transformed telco, they might need some of them or many of them but not all. It’s overkill to adopt Cloud (or Public Cloud) as Platform. Moreover, there are concerns over cloud sovereignty, where telcos need similar offerings on-prem or within their premises.

There comes on-prem private platforms. Pls be mindful, as I’m resisting to use term private cloud. The moment you mix private platforms with private cloud, the expectations begin to escalate. When we refer to private platforms (or on-prem platforms), they simply mean platforms, which offers scalability, elasticity, and resiliency. They help to build agile services and transform organization towards more agile operations. They may or mayn’t bring cloud like capabilities such as app marketplace, billing or metering, DC/DR, Observability, Serverless, MLOps etc inherently with them. While some platform providers offer some of them, it comes as add-on. Moreover, platforms offered could be virtualized or containerised or fully managed/serverless types but, primarily they are platforms and not cloud.

When we refer to term private cloud, it brings all the above cloud offerings (public cloud offerings) into play, along with bare-bone platform stuff which otherwise a platform would offer.

You may ask, what’s difference though?

It depends on context in which you are asking this question, if you need a platform or a cloud, be it public or private. Or in other words, what’s use case for transformation? It would be the decider.

Let’s say you want to transform your network core to make it more agile and with 5G, you decided that 5G Core (entire suite of Core modules) would run on new platform or cloud, either way. If you just want to run 5G core modules on newer capable platforms, replacing older non-agile platforms, choose a platform. But if you need observability, or DC/DR or even CICD or integration with app stores or billing/metering, better choose a cloud (public cloud like offering) to support your use case. It is impractical to take a platform and expect cloud offerings and vice versa (that’s overkill gentleman).

A platform which offers scalability, elasticity and resiliency is good enough for many telco transformations use cases but not all telco transformational use cases will be well served by mere platforms or their add-on services (a complete PaaS). In many instances, you would need app stores or billing/metering or even DC/DRs or Observability or even serverless for your use case, then choosing cloud (or similar offerings) would make better sense.

Now what telcos should choose really depends on many factors including use case, budgets, timelines, roadmap or even their own vision of transformation would play a significant role in choosing between platform or cloud. Telcos need their platforms to support many use cases, and they would eventually evolve to go beyond mere connectivity providers, catering to enterprises with value added services. In those cases, private cloud would make more sense. But keep in mind that, not all telcos would have same vision of doing everything or going beyond connectivity services. With advent of 5G (& beyond 5G), there will be opportunities for them to offer many more services, but not all telcos will offer those. Imagine, every transformed telco is offering all types of services, including OTT, App, Music etc, how market will look?

In summary, every transformed telco would have different services offerings, and cloud or platforms would play a critical role in their services offerings. This is mainly because, they started with different transformational goals. If you look around telco landscape across globe, you could easily see pioneers and followers separately. But this distinction is quite vague and doesn’t stand scrutiny so let’s not say that pioneers will offer everything while followers will limit themselves to just connectivity offerings.

Now question comes, should all platforms evolve to clouds or public clouds to support transformation? Or would there be truly a private cloud offering everything of that of public cloud offerings?

I don’t see the point in this question though. I have yet to see anyone building platforms or clouds merely for telcos. They won’t. There’s always a larger play for both platform and cloud players, beyond telcos. So, what you build depends on customer needs and market demands.

The question is interesting enough to answer, because I could see platform providers are trying to build private clouds while public cloud providers are trying to build private clouds, and both are racing towards that. If you look around, enterprise or on-prem is bigger opportunity than public clouds, and those who are in business of building private on-prem platforms or private clouds, are building increasingly public cloud like offerings to enable a true private cloud for their telcos or enterprises.

Eventually, without must digressing from topic, you would see private clouds and platforms both getting transformed to more like public cloud, but it won’t be at par. The fundamental reason is their architectures are different altogether and by mere adding more capabilities won’t transform a platform into cloud or vice versa.

Telcos, if you have a vision to be truly a market leader, completely agile, go beyond connectivity and offer thousands of value-add services, either B2B or B2C, then manage them well, choosing cloud offerings makes more sense from start. But if you are exploring opportunities, transforming your core, and not looking at value added services play in longer run, choosing platforms or sticking to private platforms would make more sense from start. Eventually every telco would have hybrid multi-cloud-based architecture, but the way it evolves to that stage would decide the transformation results. Platforms aren’t Cloud and Cloud isn’t just platform but more than platforms. Let’s ensure we understand the fundamental difference and make right choices.

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Digitial TransformationNext Gen Telecom

Telecom Uncensored- Telco skill crisis and adapting to new Digitization wave!

Since the pandemic, many organizations expanded their horizons (literally), riding on the wave of digital transformations, AI/ML, 5G, Blockchain, are already hitting the wall by now. As pandemic is subsiding, the realization is real for many of them; we can ride the wave successfully, if we can build the team of people with right skill sets.

Is that something Organizations didn’t realize before they started surfing the wave of opportunities?

Let me talk about Telecom for the sake of this article.

Telecom is one of the most complex and tech savvy industries out there. Believe me, tech stack is enormously complicated, legacy, spread across multiple domains (many of those domains you haven’t heard outside), and old fashioned to significant extent. I don’t know if there’s any telco who can proudly claim that they are 100% digitally transformed or have successfully obliterated legacy stack and adopted modern technology fully. The transformation is on-going and will continue for many years and by the time it reaches the destination, there will be a few more destinations already available to climb. This will continue forever for many of them.

Which brings down the question- what’s the plan?

I believe there’s some plan but it’s in beta mode already. Many of them are riding on the new wave of digitization of telco stack, moving away from legacy architectures of their existing product portfolios to new agile built microservices architectures. Everything is at stake and the path forward is riddled with many challenges.

But the biggest question is, who will do this for Telcos? How will Telcos find skilled people to get transformed?

Will telcos be doing this on their own or their cloud partners or their ISV partners or OEM partners or …? The list goes on and there is no definite answer to the question. But one thing is sure, telcos won’t be doing this without support from external stakeholders, be it Cloud or OEM or ISVs or managed services partners, many of them will win the big pie of business.

The question remains, how these partners will build a fully Cloud-Native Digitally transformed Telco, who is making AI driven decisions day in day out and what Telcos will gain out of it?

First, Cloud is new to Telco world (not that new but still quite new). Telcos, despite being the most tech savvy industries, are one of the least cloudified industries as well. There are many reasons for that, including closed ecosystem of vendors/products, legacy Hardwares/software, domain level challenges and others. Not all telcos adopt or adopted Cloud but many of them are on the path.

And one of the biggest issues is lack of talent to solve complex domain level issues with software.

Telcos, since their existence, adopted software, built on proprietary stack, provided by their OEM partners. They always relied on OEM to solve their problems. Only handful of them continued to innovate generations after generations but many of them just asked their OEM Partners to solve problems for them. It’s a well-known model and it worked quite well, until the cloud reached the tipping point.

While many other enterprises adopted cloud and benefited from them enormously, Telcos saw the transformation from outside. They were curious, but knowing that, it wouldn’t be easy for them to adapt to Cloud. Among many reasons, less knowledge of software development processes of products is one of the key reasons. Telco relied on OEM partners to build solutions and products for them. They hardly built anything in-house.

But now Telcos is planning to move to cloud and ready for transformation, with external help, many of the Telco partners scouting for solutions are looking to hire skilled professionals.

But where are the skilled professionals fitting the bill?

There are hardly any! Telco is always a telco product and moving to software-based products would require many of the companies to hire people, with both telecom and software domains expertise. E.g., many of the Radio vendors, jumping on O-RAN bandwagon, building Radio Products (software/containerized), need radio experts who had expertise in building software products or engineering. It won’t be easy because there are very few skilled people who already know both.

What’s the way forward?

It’s a challenge as well as an opportunity.

While many organizations will never be able to build such products/solutions, telecom professionals can upskill themselves to meet those demands and move to a different world altogether. It won’t be easy for many of them, as I see, many of them dreaded coding/programming in their college days and now will hesitate to upskill.

Reality is quite hard. Companies will continue to build software telco products; telcos will continue to transform themselves and telecom professionals will have to adopt the path of continuous learning to ride on the wave of opportunity.

The current crisis of talent crunch in many industries, including telecom, who are riding the digitization wave is purely man-made, driven by ambition of telcos/end customers to adopt cloud, AI, and digital technologies. As a professional, you can only ride the crisis by upskilling with continuous learning cycles. There’s no other way out!

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5GDigitial TransformationNewsNext Gen Telecom

Openet Implements Full Digital Service in Telkomsel in 18 weeks

Openet, a leader in the supply of Digital and 5G BSS, announced that its end to end Digital BSS suite has gone live to support Telkomsel’s new digital prepaid cellular service in Indonesia, called by.U.

Openet is supporting Telkomsel with its Digital BSS suite to power by.U, which has an end-to-end digital service utilizing a smartphone app at its core. This delivers new levels of customer choice with a wide range of digital services and a self-service approach that puts the customer in control.

Edward Ying, Telkomsel’s Director of Planning & Transformation said, “by.U as the first digital prepaid cellular service in Indonesia is a real evidence of Telkomsel’s Transformation as the leading digital telco company, which prioritizes customer centricity in developing quality digital products and services for customers.”

“We need to collaborate with a partner who shares the same ambition so we can provide a full end-to-end digital experience in customer journey. We wanted a support system that could easily be configured to allow us to quickly roll out a range of new attractive offers for our digital native customers and enable us to stand out in one of the most competitive mobile markets in the world. With this collaboration, we certainly hope that Openet’s Digital BSS has the agility that we need, and also that Openet as a company has the partnership-focused attitude to ensure success.”

Telkomsel’s by.U service was developed specifically for the Gen Z (millennial) segment (15-24 years) which is around 44 million people in Indonesia. In serving these Gen Z customers who live digital lifestyle, Telkomsel needed to set new standards in speed to service, cost to serve and agility to serve this digital native generation. To deliver this innovative digital mobile service, it is critical for Telkomsel to have a Digital BSS suite and a partner which has high level of agility and performance.

The model that Telkomsel utilize in delivering an end-to-end digital experience in this product is to eliminate system complexity, and offer a simpler process both for customers and in internal business process.

Niall Norton, CEO, Openet, “I am looking forward to further developing our strong partnership with Telkomsel. Being able to launch a new digital platform so quickly is due in no small part to the vision, leadership and passion of the Telkomsel executives, who took their vision of a new digital service offer for the market and make it reality in record time. Openet worked with partners in this project including NTT, McKinsey and 6d Technologies to implement this digital vision, built on Openet’s charging and policy platforms alongside a suite of other digital enabling tools, in 18 weeks. I am very proud of the dedication of the team at Openet and our ability to work with our partners and the team at Telkomsel to deliver game changing results. Our partners in this success were able to leverage the Openet partner integration environment that pre-integrates a range of partner technologies to quickly, flexibly and reliably enable digital service offerings”.

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