Software-Defined-Storage – the New Crown Jewel in Telecommunications
Maintaining a high pace of innovation requires the kind of IT agility for telcos that is only available in a software-defined computing environment.
Competition is fierce for telecommunication services providers as they aspire to maintain a pace of innovation that is orders of magnitude greater than observed even in the financial services industry. To remain relevant in the industry and viable for customer opportunities, “telcos” must constantly innovate to enhance existing services, offer new ones, and pursue capacities that differentiate their value proposition. The thrust to innovate is accentuated by constant communication among market participants which makes these advances not only top of mind but also expected by the consumer.
Maintaining a high pace of innovation requires the kind of IT agility that is only available in a software-defined computing environment. Telcos can no longer afford the kinds of delay typically associated with the procurement of hardware to accommodate new and rapid development. Resources must be instantly provisioned to support the responsiveness required to capitalize on new competitive market opportunities. A “first-to-market” solution often wins, so rapid transition from concept to production is a mandate.
While innovation remains an important aspect, the scale of deployment for new services is yet another facet of the challenges faced by telcos. With the success of a new service or offering, increased customer adoption also demands that it work better, faster, and for a larger user community. Scale is critical, because often the audience for a new service will grow exponentially larger as the service matures from its inception stage and as it begins to span disparate geographies.
While addressing the challenges of the pace and scale of innovation, costs must be driven down to maintain competitiveness with telco customers and to avoid being unseated as a price leader. There’s also the ever-present issue of regulatory compliance that stipulates huge fines for violators. Implementation of all these services must occur with unerring accuracy so that infractions do not occur. In summary, telco providers live a high-stakes, high-wire balancing act.
Storage – The Traditional Bottleneck and Now a Beacon of Hope
In the age of monolithic storage appliances, the ability to store, analyze, and retrieve data required by the development of new telco products and services often became a bottleneck, where all processing had to slow down. Beyond development, this latency interfered with in-process testing, user acceptance, prototyping, and other realities of the service lifecycle. In the large-scale world of telecommunications, this latency became increasingly perceptible to consumers. In effect, software-defined storage (SDS) has changed the rules of the data storage landscape dramatically. No longer are telcos subjected to the limitations and risks of a single appliance located in a specific place that is responsible for all storage. Storage can be distributed across a network, making it far more accessible and faster than traditional appliance-based solutions. Additionally, SDS provides a new level of resilience and reliability via redundancy across many storage devices across different data centers. No single point of failure.
Going forward, Red Hat proposes three key tenets on which SDS aims to help telcos succeed:
Saving Money. By extracting the intelligence from the storage appliance and migrating it to industry-standard servers, SDS frees system designers from most constraints. Instead of expensive storage appliances, they can now employ low-cost commodity devices for most use cases. They can achieve greater cost efficiencies by tiering storage more flexibly and with more granularity than previously possible.
Making Money. Operating purely within a hybrid cloud framework, SDS coupled with microservice application development in a container-driven environment makes possible a far faster development cycle which enables telcos to introduce new services more rapidly. This holds the promise of helping service providers transform their business with unparalleled agility, and in redefining themselves to quickly adapt to changing customer requirements at lower, more competitive price points which, in turn, can help win more business earlier.
Growing Faster. SDS changes how telcos procure and deploy storage, enabling better utilization of existing assets and facilitating the adoption of new resources with less delay in development and operations. By being more nimble than their competition, telcos using SDS can redefine their time-to-market for new services. The sooner they can take advantage and a lead position on the sales curve, the greater will be the impact on their overall growth.
As telcos embark on their transformative journey to develop and differentiate their service offerings based on cloud, container, and microservice technologies, they are responding to new standards for price/performance, consumption, and consumer responsiveness. Software-defined storage underlies these key technologies and provides the flexibility to fuel this growth, along with the predictability required to accurately establish competitive and hence, profitable price points.
Narendra N. Narang, Principal Specialist Solutions Architect Cloud Storage for Red Hat, has more than 19 years experience working in various information technology roles at New York financial institutions. He has deep knowledge of enterprise systems and storage ... View Full Bio
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