Operators, globally, are rapidly embarking on their evolution towards being digital service providers. If you’re one of them, it’s high time to begin your own digital transformation so that you are positioned to help your customers achieve theirs. That means updating your services, network, infrastructure, and operations to become agile and accelerate innovation. The cloud, in all it fuzzy definitions, is an integral part of achieving the digital transformation. A successful Cloud Transformation will create the necessary foundation for the digital service provider of the future.
To successfully navigate the transformation, several pieces of the puzzle need to be architected correctly. Network Functions Virtualization infrastructure (NFVi) with Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), software-defined networking (SDN), and software-defined infrastructure (SDI) all need to come together to create an infrastructure which becomes a strategic enabler for service innovation. And technology transformation won't succeed in isolation. Changes need to made and synchronized in process, people, and organizational domains to extract the most value from this dynamic infrastructure.
An estimated 70 to 75% of large transformation programs fail to produce desired results. They either fail to launch (stuck in analysis, lack management commitment, encounter resistance, and so on) OR fail to sustain (no change in day-to-day behaviors, no clear leadership/vision, no capabilities, and so on) OR fail to scale (no overarching blueprint/program, management, lack of capabilities, and so on). Ericsson sees three major groups of stumbling blocks with operators currently undergoing transformation programs.
1. Failure to drive change beyond technology: Different business strategies require different types of cloud infrastructure. Are you deploying technology that will actually help you meet your goals? Are you setting it up in a way that aligns with your high-level strategy? Are you doing so in a way that supports your existing timelines for several parallel projects? And what about organizational structure? Embracing cloud means the beginning of new processes and the end of old ones. Some jobs will be created, while others will go away. Have you decided which is which? How different will your org chart look when you’re done?
Most operators existing engineering/architecture team have strong technical competence on current platforms. How will the competence be mapped to and migrated over to newer platforms? All your existing employees have to be motivated to find ways to integrate themselves into the new process. As you move to cloud, how do you decide what to assign to existing teams and what to outsource?
2. Failure to navigate highly fragmented systems landscape: Within the world of cloud computing, there are many smaller worlds, each of which brings its own specific challenges. There are many NFVi strategies, and you have to choose one. You have to decide which of the Open Source projects make most sense for you. You have to build a VNF migration roadmap. If you go with hybrid cloud, you have to decide what data stays on your own servers and what goes offsite. SDN will have an effect on your existing transport and inter and intra datacenter network architecture. Who will manage your NFVi and applications? What DevOps strategy would you need to pursue? What technical and process capabilities are needed until you can do closed-loop automated cloud fulfillment and assurance?
3. Failure to deliver a positive Return on Investment: Let’s be honest. A move to cloud can be expensive. You’ve got to budget for it, and you’ve got to justify that budget. How can you estimate returns, and how can you possibly predict with accuracy when those returns will be delivered? Will certain cloud technology choices make the returns better?
Fortunately, solutions to all these quandaries have already been developed and implemented by our consulting teams.
Strategic Partners in the Cloud Transformation Journey
In multiple successful advisory projects on Cloud Transformation, we have addressed common causes of these issues and provided operators with the strategic goal, the target end-state, inputs to decision makers, the overarching blueprint/strategy, information on organizational alignment, and a detailed program plan which allowed their transformation to succeed where others fail. With a well-defined and validated methodology towards developing your Transformation Plan, we can significantly reduce the risk for embarking on a Cloud Transformation journey.
We partner with you to put in place a multi-stream transformation planning and execution program. A transformation program should be closely aligned with organizational strategy. We start with a strategic assessment, utilizing workshops with senior executives, to understand and codify your organization’s strategic intent. After intent definition, your transformation priorities/horizons are identified which are then sub-divided to facilitate granular planning.
For choosing the right architecture, there is the Technology Strategy work-stream. These workshops define a strategy which lists the technical and operational capabilities of the new cloud infrastructure. They also define the appropriate NFVi strategy, VNF and application migration roadmaps for the operator considering services to be offered, capex/opex implications of various NFVi stacks, hybrid cloud utilization potential, internal technical capability, inter-dependencies, and many other factors. The sub-streams go into defining details about Data Center Strategy, SDN, Management & Orchestration, DevOps, and Security aspects as required for the optimal end-state after the transformation.
For organizational alignment, there's Maturity Assessment and Target Operating Model (TOM). Maturity modeling involves working with a list of more than 120 capabilities, grouped into 19 categories. This allows for a segmentation of your needs and capabilities into three maturity levels: Virtual Ready, Cloud Ready, Cloud Enabled. The assessment serves to set the starting point as well as the target towards which the organizational capabilities should improve. The TOM establishes a clear goal for how you need to be operating when the transformation is complete. To de-risk the program even further, the path to the TOM is broken up into Transformation Horizons that allow a gradual execution in manageable pieces. This, in turn, allows for a gap assessment that will be the basis for your structured transformation plan.
For financial impact, there's the Total Cost of Transformation (TCT) analysis. TCT allows you to accurately estimate the capex/opex value that will be delivered by your move to cloud and the horizon over which the value will be delivered. This is aligned with the transformation plan, allowing the organization to understand the value of ongoing projects.
The resulting output from the planning phase of the transformation plan is the Strategic Roadmap, a wall-sized chart created to benefit your entire organization. This chart shows the programs that need to be run, when they need to be run, where the dependencies are, and the consequences of delays. It ensures that everyone in the organization, and especially those engaged in the transformation, are provided with visibility into the overall program and their role within it.
This holistic approach to transformation planning, anticipates and eliminates a large portion of the issues that are being currently faced by operators pursuing Cloud Transformation. Ericsson can help apply the validated methodology to your transformation, de-risking the program for a successful outcome.
Want to learn more?
Read how leading operators are working with Ericsson Cloud Consulting to transform to cloud:
And keep a look out for a series of upcoming posts, in which we’ll go into more detail about each of the items above.