Digital Dexterity at the Speed of Cloud

by March 9, 2018 0 comments

Author – Daniela Perlmutter, Vice President product marketing at Amdocs

As organizations tout their ‘move to the cloud’ much of the discussion to date has centered on moving IT workloads to cloud infrastructure, driven by the goal of improving efficiency, increasing agility and scalability, and reducing costs.

But the cloud imperative is shifting. Organizations are increasingly focused on leveraging cloud-native paradigms on a deeper and wider scale, encompassing not just cloud computing infrastructure, but also evolving applications and processes – and with a different goal – that of enabling ‘digital dexterity.’

Digital dexterity for communications and media service providers is about having the agility and flexibility to innovate new features rapidly, provide a best-in-class user experience and launch new, digital services at the speed of demand and ahead of customer expectations. Indeed, it is one of the cornerstones of succeeding as a digital service provider and staying ahead of the competitive curve.

Daniela Perlmutter Vice President product marketing at Amdocs

Daniela Perlmutter Vice President product marketing at Amdocs

In an in-depth survey of leading service providers in North America, EMEA, and the Asia Pacific, conducted by Analysys Mason on behalf of Amdocs, over 80% of respondents confirm that the desire to become cloud-native is driven by the need for greater business agility and innovation.

Cloud-native digital powerhouses

With the game-changing success of digital powerhouses such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify, service providers are seeking to match those companies’ digital dexterity. They can’t afford to Netflix and Amazon, for example, deploy code thousands of times each day, continually launching and fine-tuning new features and capabilities to keep users engaged and increase usage. They’re able to do this because they started adopting cloud technologies early on.

But the transition took years. Back in 2008, Netflix started migrating its on-premise data centers to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and converting monolithic, Java applications to cloud-based microservices. Netflix announced in 2016 that it had completed moving 100% of its data centers to AWS, and today has a robust architecture leveraging over a thousand microservices.

Cloud: are we there yet?

Leveraging cloud computing infrastructure is a start. But this alone will not deliver the full benefits of agility that the cloud can provide.

As Brendan Burns, co-founder of the Kubernetes project said, “Cloud has given us a better version of a place to buy a computer… But it doesn’t change the way you build applications; it only changes the economics… …you can’t do that until you start thinking about cloud-native applications.”

To truly boost agility, organizations should evolve their IT applications to cloud-native design, including microservices architecture, where relevant, while embracing DevOps practices in software deployment and operations.

So where are service providers on this journey? Analysys Mason found progress is being made:
Service providers projected that by 2022 over 90% of their BSS and OSS applications would run on cloud infrastructure, of which 60% would run in a hybrid cloud deployment model.

The move to microservices architecture and DevOps is underway but will take longer to be fully adopted. Sixty-four percent said microservices architecture will be a requirement for new systems within 2 years. And while currently, 46% of service providers are employing DevOps practices, it is only in very limited areas of their IT environment, primarily digital domains. A further 18% have a plan to adopt DevOps in the next one to two years, while the rest are still evaluating.

Making the move the smart way

Service providers are clearly placing strategic priority on evolving to cloud-native: 64% have a roadmap in place, while 18% are working on a plan. However, it’s not only about how fast you move, it’s about doing it smartly.
Being prepared for the operational aspects is crucial. This includes asking questions such as whether your IT staff possess the necessary skills and expertise to deploy, test, upgrade and operate microservices; and whether you have the right support for open source tools and code?

And while service providers’ IT environment have always been an evolving mix of technologies – this is set to reach a whole new level of complexity as the adoption of cloud, microservices, and DevOps practices take place over the next several years. As new cloud-native applications, typically based on microservices, are deployed, they will need to work alongside existing systems and processes already in place. As a consequence, testing, integration, security and backward compatibility will become more complex, which will require new tooling and processes as well as the need for employees to re-skill.

Analysys Mason found that service providers are aware of these hurdles, with 91% saying operating cloud-native systems alongside traditional ones will be a critical challenge, of which 64% expect they will need to re-skill their workforce and 27% expect they will need to rely on a third party for implementation.

For these reasons, service providers that want to keep up, or even outpace the digital powerhouses, must not only make a fast move to cloud-native – they must do so in a calculated and thoughtful way.

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