The telecom industry is fast emerging as a digital transformation and application services trailblazer, according to new research from F5 Networks.
Against a backdrop of 5G imminence, the fifth annual State of Application Services report indicates that 80 percent of telecom professionals are currently executing on digital transformation plans. This is well ahead of 69 percent in all other examined industries.
Telecom respondents are also pulling out the stops to re-evaluate their structures, processes, and workflows to reduce total cost of ownership, as well as embrace more agile methodologies. For example, 58 percent claim to be migrating away from single function, siloed IT teams compared to 55 percent of the total survey sample.
“The telecoms industry is fast emerging as a digital transformation and application services trailblazer,” said Cindy Borovick, Business Intelligence Director, F5 Networks.
“With 5G around the corner – and in a world where network resources expand and contract based on demand – a profitable service will only be achieved with cloud-based microservices, automation, and orchestration,” Cindy Borovick added.
Container adoption accelerates
A key SOAS report discovery is that telecom respondents are ahead of other industries for container adoption. Three out of five (60 percent) are actively engaged with the technology, compared to 56 percent of the total survey.
Furthermore, telecom respondents are starting to stand out for embracing newer application services. The top four application services planned for deployment in the telecoms space are SDN gateway (37 percent, compared to 22 percent in all other industries), IoT gateways (29 percent, compared to 20 percent), service mesh (28 percent, compared to 13 percent), and compression (28 percent, compared to 15 percent).
The SOAS suggests that the rise of containers has boosted deployment plans for the latter three. The popularity of compression also indicates a growing need to maintain positive customer experiences while reducing network costs.
“Application services enable telecom providers to meet the responsibilities they have to the consumer, commercial, and government customers to deliver always-on network services with a keen understanding of applicable regulations, as well as broader social environments,” Borovick explained.
Once again, telecom providers are further ahead in the breadth of application services they deploy compared to their peers. Across all verticals, only 27% deployed more than 20 application services. However, 40% reported deploying over 20 application services in the telecom sector. The global average stood at 17 application services.
Automation and orchestration initiatives
Looking ahead, SOAS 2019 posits that automation and orchestration will become essential for efficient network management.
When we asked how digital transformation is influencing their application decisions, 66 percent telecom respondents chose “implementing automation and orchestration” as the number one priority, which represents a ten percent rise on F5’s 2018 research findings. Consequently, the telecom industry is ahead of the pack: 71 percent employ automation and orchestration today (compared to 68 percent for other verticals).
“Enterprises now operate in a rapidly changing application landscape that is automated, cloud-centric, and influenced by responsiveness to business priorities. With 5G on the horizon, automation and orchestration are more important than ever before, and it is hugely encouraging that large parts of the telco industry are already taking decisive, needle-moving action,” Borovick said.