Adopt. Adapt. How network operators can thrive in the today’s content heavy environment

Wherever you look and whatever you use to access the Internet, rich video-centric content is unavoidable. For consumers, this is great news. For network operators, this increased use in demand presents a significant opportunity – albeit with a unique set of challenges. Jamie Jefferies, Vice President and General Manager, EMEA @Ciena takes a look further.
Evolving Numbers

It’s now not uncommon for individuals to have several paid subscriptions for online video streaming and traditional TV services, as well as countless social media accounts. In fact, in Q4 2019, 6.03 million UK homes (21% of homes) subscribed to two or more Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services. On top of that, there’s a whole heap of free content available through news websites and video services like YouTube, TikTok and more. Wherever you look and whatever you use to access the Internet, rich video-centric content is unavoidable. For consumers, this is great news, as it’s likely they will always find something to watch. For network operators, this increased use in demand presents a significant opportunity – albeit with a unique set of challenges. To benefit, operators need to not only add capacity, but also improve the network performance and agility leveraging new software intelligence to create a network that can adapt and cope to ever-changing user demands.

Adopt. Adapt. Overcome.

While it’s obviously great for network operators that they experience more demand than ever before, it’s also important to understand their challenges and how to overcome them. For the most part, the Internet is still dominated by legacy IP architecture, which limits network flexibility and ultimately impacts how devices communicate with different applications. This is inefficient as platforms are forced to waste capacity processing outdated processes and protocols, making it exponentially more challenging when network operators need to adapt to more cost-effectively handle surging demands. In a nutshell, how the Internet has traditionally routed traffic is no longer optimal. 

Network operators are now looking to circumvent these legacy challenges by adopting the latest technologies and adapting them to best modernise their networks. To achieve this, adaptive network principles and processes are being deployed to support new applications while benefiting from cloud-like scale, disaggregated functionality and intelligent automation. One huge benefit of modernising legacy network infrastructure is that it allows network operators to shift their traditional focus from hardware to software, thus allowing bandwidth to be reconfigured rapidly when and where needed.  

Software-based virtualisation of network functions and connectivity services allows for improved scaling and flexibility. In addition, network operators can better control costs and accelerate innovation using software-driven networking solutions. 

Being successful in the increasingly dominant content environment

Another important consideration for network operators in the content age, is being able to support content-driven, bandwidth-heavy applications. Much of this is enabled via networks that can support millions of users at once, both humans and machines. A centralised and virtual software-defined layer can better handle exponential growth in end-user devices. AI and machine learning-based capabilities can use information provided by applications and streaming telemetry, allowing the network to continually self-diagnose, self-optimise, and self-heal – essential to managing bandwidth effectively.

Network operators ultimately want to create better services and solutions while tightly controlling their operational costs. This is particularly important with the current and future demand for rich content experiences. By deploying a highly adaptive network infrastructure that is aligned with their changing strategic objectives, they can successfully overcome bandwidth, capacity and performance challenges. 

Ultimately, legacy IP-based networks were built around speeds, feeds and manual processes providing the same type of service and capacity for decades. Overly complex, proprietary, and monolithic hardware-based infrastructures are no longer adequate for the new age of adaptive, agile, and on-demand network services. To thrive in this environment, an adaptive network should be considered when upgrading key infrastructure or deploying new, more content-rich experiences.

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