As the MetTel Innovation Summit: Navigating Change rolled on, one of the leading enterprise analysts, Mike Sapien, of Ovum took us through some global research from a survey of 3,000 companies and shared his insights on those findings.
Overall, Ovum found that while enterprise customers are not always up on the inner workings of the newest technologies, they all want these three benefits:
1) Reduced cost
2) Improved service
3) Greater flexibility
And they are becoming more attracted to the concept of outcome-based performance. Sapien said we're hearing more about customers saying, "Don’t tell me all those formulas. Just tell me my up-time availability, and that my Microsoft 365 works to an acceptable level. By telling me my performance with end users on specific applications, that’s what I need to know.”
As a result, providers need to transform themselves before they can transform their customers. This is a different way of delivering services, another aspect of the constant changes taking place. He said large carriers and IT providers will struggle more with this than their more nimble industry competitors and partners, such as MetTel.
Providers will need to expertly deliver virtual managed services, said Sapien. Whether hybrid network services or SD WAN, virtualized managed services can be run by the customer or by a provider such as MetTel. Until recently, the main components of these services were hardware based but with software defined networks, they can be virtualized and managed better externally.
Sapien said organizations need to be in a state of continuous development to cope with the chaotic flux of the market. No longer are six-month release cycles relevant. There's really no start or finish to a service anymore because it’s becoming mostly virtualized on a cloud platform and then offered to the customer. But it has to be continually monitored and managed and adjusted depending on the usage level of various features and functions.
“What I see happening with most large carriers is this idea of they start to do this and then they start realizing, "Oh my god, this is not going to stop, I'm on this treadmill” said Sapien.
The good news, however, according to Sapien, is that many of these services now are upgraded without any human intervention. Think about the days of having to update a Cisco router, and turn down things, and warn everybody it's going to be down for a few seconds. A few seconds turn to minutes. 95, 98 percent of the sites, go down and up perfectly. Then there are those 3 percent of sites that don't pop up for some unknown reason. Automatic upgrading will save time and stress and while it may not seem sexy, such automation will be an increasingly valuable innovation in an increasingly virtualized and fast-changing world.
Sapien predicts that service providers (like MetTel) will distribute most services vs. customers managing them. Whether it's network or optimization or cloud service, providers will invest in a distributed architecture on a national or global basis. In a sense, he said providers will virtualize and cloudify the network. He thinks this trend will phase out a lot of Cisco and Intel hardware in favor of a “new virtualized box" or other network functions.
Other interesting observations from Sapien:
- Big data analytics used to be a manual task but with all the powerful solutions and the low cost of public cloud resources, it’s much more cost-effective now. He thinks what's transpired with big data is now happening to the network because now it’s software driven. Companies can derive data analytics from it. They can make changes to routing and other aspects because they have real-life actionable data coming out of it. Most major services today increasingly have analytics included.
- Democratization of providers. Providers such as MetTel can virtualize the necessary resources, based on customer demand, to provide regional, national or even global support in a matter of weeks with the right partners and the right software plugged into the right cloud resources.
- Tying into the current “Generation Flux” description of the emerging workforce espoused by Fast Co.’s Robert Safian, Ovum’s Sapien said to consider the talent, skills and the adaptability, flexibility and the software knowledge required to thrive in this environment. Today it’s all about software development, adaptability, agility and continuous development.
- Security surprisingly doesn’t come up too high as a concern or need in the Ovum research. Sapien believes that’s because there is a customer expectation that a certain level of security is already baked into every network or software solution offered today. Partially based on this customer feedback, he sees that over time, security will be layered on at different levels as threats increase. For example, a customer may have cloud access or identity management security but they may also want security at the network level or app level or down to each virtualized CPU.