This is part one of a five-part series about how Juniper Networks is helping network service providers (SPs) around the world build out Secure Automated Cloud architectures.
“We have to admit that we have a very serious problem. The rate of adoption and innovation is much slower than anybody thought six years ago.” This statement, from one of the keynotes at the April 2019 Open Networking Summit (ONS), sums up much of the feeling in the Service Provider (SP) space today. Whether you choose your milestone as the origin of network functions virtualization (NFV) with the release of the ETSI NFV paper six years ago (as this quote alludes to), or the birth of software-defined networking (SDN) with Openflow about ten years ago, we wholeheartedly agree that SP transformation has faced obstacles. Although we see pockets of successful experimentation and innovation with our customers around the world, we are not satisfied with the overall pace.
Fundamental network transitions have always required significant upfront investment with the promise of massive transformation over long stretches of time, but patience is understandably wearing thin. While the imperatives for change remain largely the same (flat revenues, increasing operational complexity, relentless cyberattacks), the speed of transformation is progressing too slowly as the environment for SPs around the globe only gets tougher and tougher.
Cloud native companies have thrived in this environment and set a high bar for customer expectations with new, platform-based business models that are operationally and capital-efficient. Traditional SPs, however, are weighed down by extensive networks already in the ground and legacy businesses that serve large numbers of existing customers. SPs are fully aware of the need to change, but unsure of the best path to move forward.
Network evolution without the disruption
Incumbent network operators are stuck between two worlds. First, SPs must always look forward. But second, there’s the inertia of existing organizations, people, skill sets, and cultures. Falling for the fallacy of sunk costs is a common error, but the billions of dollars of investment that SPs currently have in the ground are useful assets moving forward. Tackling this contradiction between looking forward and back at the same time drives creativity and innovation at Juniper.
Current network infrastructure may be inflexible, but it is a cash cow. Juniper is helping SPs continue to drive profits out of current networks as they are cloudifying them to compete in the future. Critically, what an SP buys today must be backward compatible with what they already have and forward-compatible within the next five years and beyond.
When you observe the network as a snapshot in time you may not see the full benefit of graceful migration paths. But when we witness network evolutions over longer periods of time, we see the harsh impact that hastily cobbled together, bolted-on infrastructure has on network operations. SPs that fail to understand transformation without a clear vision for the future, combined with a plan to migrate their current networks, face a long march of growing complexity and technical debt.
Bridging the gap between the two worlds
SPs need a network that bridges the gap between looking backward and looking forward, and one that quickly responds to rapidly changing customer expectations. The answer is the Secure Automated Cloud from Juniper Networks. Transitioning to a Secure Automated Cloud hinges on transformation in three areas of the SP business: Infrastructure, Operations and Services:
Juniper is building out Secure Automated Cloud architectures with leading network operators around the world to deliver high value customer experiences, whether that means launching a new industrial IoT application, transitioning to 5G, or seamlessly melding multicloud environments for their enterprise customers.
The next four parts of this series will describe the Secure Automated Cloud and how we are helping SPs transform their Infrastructure, Operations and Services.