As you are reading this, an unprecedented change is happening on the network layer as a result of software disaggregation and open digital architecture. The cloudification journey that started on the IT side has made its way to the network & infrastructure layer. The pace of change is further accelerating with multiple industry bodies like ORAN, TIP and WBA joining hands to ensure that standardization and open-ness of the architecture is never compromised.
While CSPs across the globe continue to focus on bringing speed, scale and efficiency in network design and rollout, a key aspect being overlooked is the monetization of these massive investments. Our industry research combined with deep engagements with customers & partners indicate that the immense flexibility and control given by SDN & cloud native infrastructure is creating path for a completely new set of offerings, particularly for the enterprise customers.
Moreover, there is an evident change in the enterprise customer behaviors, accentuated by ongoing pandemic. These customers are not only embracing SaaS models, but preferring them over traditional CAPEX and on premise datacenter based models so that they can focus on what matters most to them, their business.
The new digital offerings to the enterprise customers have unique characteristics:
- Extreme agility: through real-time orchestration of software driven applications, infrastructure and network
- Cost efficiency: through “embedded” intelligence & hyper automation
- Domain expertise: through combined technology & design skills achieved by partnerships, collaboration and co-creation.
In this blog, I would like to touch on two fundamental but related changes on platform architecture which are critical for realizing the benefits offered by technology.
- API-as-a-Product (an API marketplace created by Digital Service Provider)
- Service Chaining (pre-baked offerings designed for efficiency, scale and performance)
In a properly designed cloud native platform, DSPs can now create an API catalog, where API consumers and producers are ecosystem actors. The applications and workloads hosted by DSPs on the platform can be both consumer and producer of the APIs. Combining this with the domain specific VNFs or CNFs brought by DSP’s partners – an ecosystem of independent software vendors (partners), the platform can enable a fully scalable, self-managed digital mesh of applications integrated over RESTful APIs.
DSPs can now benefit from multiple opportunity created by such platform:
- API monetization: multi-sided business model between partners and platform provider
- Infrastructure monetization: infrastructure consumed by partners and enterprise customers
- Data monetization: customer, network and partner analytics data that can be available through the API catalog.
These are only some of the examples of new opportunities created by a platform.
Service Chaining and Application Bundling
Enterprise customers need pre-baked solutions going beyond simple aggregation of products and services. In order to deliver on the promise of scale, agility and efficiency, DSPs need an ecosystem for partnership and collaboration. This eco-system must be enabled by modern cutting-edge (and very often open source) technology, along with DevSecOps and CI/CD pipelines so that software developed by partners can be “stitched” together in platform infrastructure and applied on the production with minimal intervention.
CSPs would need to build platforms to support service chaining. Let me give you an example of how service chaining would come into play for Private LTE as service offering.
What you see here is a service offering enabled by stitching of solution components from multiple vendors and partners.
This is the goldmine for platform players, and we believe that around 20-25% of the market leaders will take the route of setting e2e platforms, enabling multiple parties to come together and build common solutions for the end customers.
As we said earlier, the time for disruption is over and collaboration has started. Platform is what you need, if you need to aggregate the disaggregated.