In the journey towards network virtualization, organisations are not making the changes needed to prepare themselves for the future. This article outlines why the key to virtualization success is in evolving the everyday workplace.

Old habits die hard: Why evolution is the key to successful network virtualization

By Massimo Fatato

There can be no doubting that virtualization is the future of networks. Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and network operators recognise the need to transform, with many viewing the virtualization journey as an opportunity to regain competitiveness in an increasingly crowded market.

However, our in-depth report into the state of the industry has shown that progress has so far failed to live up to the hype. CSPs are facing a range of technical and organisational issues that threaten to significantly hinder transformation strategies.

But most importantly, businesses are failing to evolve. Too many have been guilty of doing the same things they have always done, which is hampering real progress from being made.

Roadblocks to success

According to our research, technological, business and operational issues are causing problems within the industry. The relative infancy of the technology, for example, means CSPs are having to deal with issues related to reliability, performance and coping with the coexistence of virtual and legacy domains.

Then there are business concerns to address. Factors such as the costs of transformation, a lack of clarity around the commercial benefits of virtualization, and issues dealing with long-term ROI are all converging to slow down deployments.

Finally, with over half (52%) of our respondents agreeing that the amount of operational change required to move to a virtualized network is overwhelming, the complexity involved cannot be underestimated.

For example, CSPs will need end-to-end visibility of services in a hybrid network, which will require a new roadmap for operations support system (OSS) and business support system (BSS) development, both of which require an operational evolution to take place.

But, while these are all serious matters, there is a bigger issue that CSPs have so far failed to address.

Slaves to routine

As our survey revealed, organisational issues within the telco industry are having a significant impact on virtualization success. Specifically, outdated cultures are proving to be the biggest obstacles to transformation.

CSPs are still operating siloed business units, for example. While these organisational structures and cultures are geared towards traditional networks, they are not well-equipped to respond to recent developments.

Many are also jumping headfirst into automation in an attempt to minimise the impact of the current industry-wide skills shortage. However, what they don’t realise is that network transformation doesn’t require wholesale staff changes. Instead, it requires an evolution.

Businesses should be concentrating on helping their current workforce evolve and develop, so that they can start doing things differently rather than getting stuck in the same old habits.

By aiding their growth, employees can adapt to new ways of working and embrace a modern, collaborative culture that is suited to the future, rather than the past.

Breaking the habit

Clearly, there are several habits CSPs need to break to realise the potential of network virtualization.

By nature of their core business, CSPs have traditionally centred their business decisions around technology. However, the future belongs to those that can focus on business improvements by leveraging technology, meaning the specific goals of the business must be at the core.

While many CSPs are working in this direction, they have not yet done enough to remove internal silos and engage the entire organisation throughout the process. They should avoid making wholesale changes, as there is nothing wrong with starting small and taking a gradual approach, despite the temptation to move as quickly as possible.

It’s also vitally important to establish an innovative culture that is equipped to leverage the benefits enabled by next-gen technologies. Too many businesses are guilty of failing to give their employees a voice and helping them to evolve, which will hold CSPs back in the long run.

But, by adopting this mindset of evolution, CSPs will quickly be able to cast their old habits aside and lead the way in the virtualized world of the future.