Optical network automation a cost saver for operators

27 May 2024 Consultancy.uk 4 min. read
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Operators that implement optical network automation for network and service lifecycle management could save huge amounts of money, according to a new report. The study from Nokia and Analysys Mason also suggests that the time to fulfil orders could be reduced by days, opening up potential for new business.

An optical network is a type of communication system that sends data between two points or more – but unlike traditional systems, this is not based on electrical signals. Rather, an optical network uses light signals – transporting data quickly to endpoints including urban centres, office computers, or telecommunication systems across the globe.

The world’s growing need for real-time information means that optical networks today provide ubiquitous connectivity for practically all network traffic, including across long-haul and subsea links. But the network is coming under intense pressure. A surge in data traffic has been accelerated by ever-increasing bandwidth requirements, growing data centre interconnection traffic and new emerging technologies, such as internet of things (IoT) and AI – driving the need for greater scale in optical networks.

Optical network automation a cost saver for operators

With inflation and the cost-of-living crisis meaning that optical network suppliers cannot simply pass the cost of scaling for this growth onto their customers, they will need to find ways of saving and freeing up capital in other ways. To that end, communications giant Nokia has published a report titled ‘Quantifying benefits of optical network automation’, in collaboration with consulting firm Analysys Mason. To conduct the research, the companies interviewed global operators who have deployed network operations and service automation processes with Nokia WaveSuite, a platform that automates optical transport.

Most striking among the report’s findings were that automated network automation for network and service lifecycle management opened up the potential for huge savings. Of the firms surveyed, the researchers found that operators could see more than 80% cost savings from the changes. For example, network operators using Nokia’s automation services found they were able to increase network capacity by 50% without the need to hire additional engineering staff. Meanwhile, the system enabled them to downsize the operational costs of optical network provisioning – the process of setting up a network to allow authorized users, devices, and servers access to it – by 81%.

Ravi Parmasad, optical network automation leader at Nokia, noted, “Customers who have adopted the advanced automation capabilities of Nokia WaveSuite are reaping the benefits at every stage of the network and service lifecycle. It’s helping them plan, configure, deploy and manage their networks using fewer resources and less time, reducing time to market.”

Optical network automation a cost saver for operators

This could also drive savings in operational costs, by reducing the time taken for service order fulfilment, from an average of 10 days to 24 hours. This could contribute up to 90% savings in operational costs, while boosting service fulfilment by 83% – helping to maintain a satisfied customer base, and win new customers. Illustrating this, the researchers found that automation had enabled a Tier-1 North American operator to improve their win rates by five times.

But importantly, this could also yield fresh opportunities for operators to expand their offerings. According to the researchers, optical network automation offers several advantages for service fulfilment, including simplifying network operations using service provisioning and wavelength optical route selection; tasks which traditionally required complex manual configurations. WaveSuite Service Enablement has enabled the studied service providers to abstract service definitions, service definitions, service virtualisation and automate network connectivity fulfilment, which results shorter deployment timelines for new services and a faster time to market.

Justin van der Lande, research director at Analysys Mason, added, “Optical network automation is providing tangible benefits in real-world deployments. The technology is now moving past the early adopter phase and network operators who don’t implement optical automation will be at a considerable disadvantage in terms of cost, ability to generate additional revenue and time to market for new services.”