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Communications Reimagined
Industry insights for 5G evolution and transforming digital experience.

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Digital Transformation

Automation requires DevOps, DevSecOps & CI/CD...but what about testing?

Though testing is very hard, and often cited as the biggest cause of delays in service rollouts, it is an absolute must in automation efforts It seems that wherever you turn to these days, “automation” or rather the desire for “automation,” takes the spotlight in all network-related conversations having to do with agility. But automation can seem pretty daunting when environments are increasingly composed of disaggregated, cloud-native, multicloud components spanning infrastructure, platforms and applications. Automation should be inherent to cloud because cloud technologies by their very nature cross organizational silos, disrupt proprietary tech stacks and change delivery models. To automate successfully, you must have these key elements: •    Development and operations (DevOps) •    Security controls (DevSecOps) •    Integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) •    Continuous testing That last bullet point is the biggest source of delays as testing is very hard, and very complex, as shown in a recent survey by Gitlab in which 47 percent of respondents resoundingly cited testing as the number-one reason for delays, either because there is no designated tester (leaving it to the developers to do it), or because of Big Bang deployments, or poor planning for testing overall. Is it possible to have continuous integration and continuous delivery without continuous testing?  The answer is “no” because foregoing testing means foregoing quality and speed—especially as software releases and updates grow more numerous, as will bugs and issues with bad code. Without visibility and rapid feedback on code, problems will start to compound, slowing what development teams are trying to achieve in terms of increasing speed and agility. Not doing continuous testing is incongruous to the entire purpose of CI/CD and DevOps. The bottom line is that highly dynamic service-based architecture (SBA) of 5G requires shorter testing cycles to rapidly deliver more updates. With DevSecOps and CI/CD, software delivery evolves and improves, and the number of software releases delivered per year will also significantly increase. That increase will make manual testing during software release validation all the more challenging. How to resolve the ‘testing’ dilemma? Incorporating a robust and flexible automated testing suite will accelerate the pace of delivering seamless and differentiated customer experiences across the various technology fabrics that comprise multigenerational networks. With a unified and automated testing framework, it becomes possible to improve the execution speed of verification checks or any other repeatable tasks in the software development lifecycle for testing, such as unit and component testing, API testing, functional testing, version control testing, regression testing, among others. To help operators avoid lengthy, error prone, and complex manual testing processes, Oracle Communications Automated Test Tools and Scripts (ATS) helps navigate the complexities of the new cloud native core technology. It’s an end-to-end solution that automates the complete testing process of Oracle’s 5G core network functions (NFs), helping developers execute functional, regression and performance test cases with a click of a button and zero manual intervention. With these features, NF teams can execute all the functional test cases in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months. The solution leverages the reliable Oracle test framework based on DevSecOps and CI/CD best practices inherent to Oracle’s methodology. It can be easily integrated with an operator’s CI/CD pipeline for more flexibility, and faster integration into cloud native environments. Using the ATS, operators achieve desired business outcomes, such as: •    Multi-scenario testing for 3G/4G/5G interworking •    Multi-platform solution testing for end-to-end use cases •    Multi-environment architectural testing for bare metal, virtual and cloud native deployments Because continuous testing is embedded within the development process through ATS, as opposed to bolted on as an afterthought, it is integrated into the software delivery pipeline, thus reducing business risk around releases and protecting user experiences by preventing future software problems. To learn more, contact us oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com and check out our “Cloud Native Journey for Telecoms” eBook and 5G webinar series.  

Though testing is very hard, and often cited as the biggest cause of delays in service rollouts, it is an absolute must in automation efforts It seems that wherever you turn to these days, “automation”...

Digital Experience

Communications Service Providers: 11 Simple Steps to Releasing a New Offer

  This is a post syndicated from Oracle CX. Oracle’s innovative Digital Experience for Communications solution provides state-of-the-art capabilities to help marketing and product managers easily create, modify, clone, launch, and retire offers. All types of offers comprised of simple and complex bundles can be created within minutes enforcing rules and terms. You can now launch new offers to market within days vs. the several weeks or months it typically takes today. Discover how you can quickly review, clone, modify, and publish an existing offer in just 11 steps by following a simple guided procedure: Step 1 - Browse available offers The first step in ideation is to make sure you know what offers are currently in the market and see how they’re performing. The most efficient way to do this is to have one source of truth to review each offer's status and performance and see how they stack up against each other. Here’s an example of a dashboard view that enables this kind of discovery:   Step 2 – Select the offer that closely matches your needs Once you’ve got a good overview to reference, drill down to view details of any specific existing offer and get even further into its composition and performance. The more you know about what works and doesn’t work, the more successful your future offers are sure to be! Step 3 – Review the selected offer It’s important to note at this stage, an offer can have multiple components, such as device and service bundles, and that each of those bundles might have several sub-components. For example, a device bundle can have different phone models, and a service plan can have talk and text, data plans, streaming options, and more. You can view pricing, terms, and eligibility rules as you drill down into the offer details at a granular level. Step 4 – Clone the offer If your existing offer has all or most of the required characteristics you want in your new offer, you can simply clone it and then modify it to create a new offer for launch to market. This eliminates the work that goes into building a new offer from the ground up- it’s just the click of a button within the existing offer. Step 5 – Modify bundle details Now that you’ve successfully cloned the old offer, you still need to update and modify it with the new details.  Through a guided procedure, you can easily retain or update existing bundles and plans and add or modify bundle components as necessary.   Step 6 – Modify bundle components Throughout this process, you’ll have access to a single master catalog that conveniently lists all the offer components available to your offer model. That means you can delete components that didn’t serve customers well or may not be relevant anymore or add new ones that will help increase the offer's value. Step 7 – Revise pricing Pricing is a key component to your offer's success, and there are multiple applications of pricing to consider.   You can update the pricing of any offer component in one place, whether it’s one time and/or recurring charges, usage-based consumption, or a combination of any of these.   It’s simple to implement when you have a clear view of all aspects of the offer at your fingertips: Step 8 – Revise terms When addressing the terms of the offer, consider holidays or special occasions that might influence the offer's launch date and length of time it’s made available. Think of things that are important to customers like New Year offers or Independence Day celebratory offers. You may want customers to commit to the offer for a specific length of time to qualify for the offer and its special pricing.  All of these can easily be updated in the TERMS section: Additionally, you can add penalties to terms if customers break agreements. This component of terms is efficiently communicated to the customer when considering offers, and it allows you to set proper boundaries within your offers that protect your business. Step 9 – Revise eligibility rules The next step is to define the audience and the eligibility for your offer. Who do you want to extend this offer to? Anyone and everyone? Or, is it only for consumers who meet certain criteria? Here’s where you can define a variety of rules to establish criteria so that the offer gets promoted to your ideal set of consumers who meet the eligibility rules for this offer. Step 10 – Review the offer to be launched As with anything, make sure you check your work. You can easily review the entire offer and verify that all the updates and modifications are accurate and good to be released. If everything looks good, submit for final approval so that it can be released to your customers! Step 11 – Submit the offer for approval and publishing Checks and balances are important in ensuring everything you’ve created is correct and that this offer will be appealing and add value to the consumers you serve.   If you’re satisfied with everything, submit the offer for a final review and publication market with just one click: Immediately after you submit the offer for review, it’s sent to the review manager. When the offer is published, it gets automatically distributed to any application that needs the update – such as your provisioning system, billing system, sales catalog, store catalog, etc. With automation delivered by Oracle, the offer gets to market quicker, and customers can reap the benefits while you’re able to monitor offer performance and continue this process again and again. To see original post, go here. To learn more about Oracle Digital Experience for Communications, go here.  

  This is a post syndicated from Oracle CX. Oracle’s innovative Digital Experience for Communications solution provides state-of-the-art capabilities to help marketing and product managers easily...

Digital Experience

Vodafone, Oracle & Accenture explore how to innovate, engage and transform for the experience economy

This discussion gives an operator, system integrator and vendor perspective on where we are headed and what needs to happen to speed innovation and revenue in a bold new digital world full of opportunities and challenges. In case you missed our recent webcast, luminaries from Vodafone, Accenture and Oracle discussed challenges and opportunities presented by 5G, emerging multiparty business models and competitive disruption from webscale companies. Jason Rutherford, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Communications, Applications, led the discussion about IT and operational agility. He explored what CSPs need to rapidly launch and monetize services, while simultaneously ensuring agents and customers get the best customer experience possible over any channel, any time. IT and operational agility are top of mind for Vodafone’s Carlos Valero, IT strategy and architecture director, who offered insight into “Tech 2025 Transformation,” an ambitious strategy for an evolution from being a traditional telco to a “technology communications company” — every aspect of which will be viewed through the lens of data-driven, cloud-enabled Digital Experiences. The goal is to bring B2B and B2C customers new ways of working and engaging through scalable platforms and digital-first products and services that span all channels, and to become a platform company with the scale to be a true global player. Both Jason and Carlos agreed that interoperability requires a big push to the cloud, as well as open APIs and standards. Both discussed Vodafone’s move toward Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and the collaborative work they are doing around Open APIs and Open Digital Architecture (ODA) as part of the upcoming TM Forum Business Operations Systems Catalyst. There’s no question that interoperability is a major focus as operators move apps to the cloud, a compelling trend evidenced by Carlos' prediction that approximately 80 to 90 percent of Vodafone’s apps will exist in public or private cloud, with 60 percent of that total predicted to be cloud native by 2025. This marks an aggressive move to drive its core business beyond connectivity and toward the full potential of 5G and the IoT.   As CSPs push beyond traditional industry boundaries, they will have to find ways to fully capitalize on the troves of customer data often trapped in silos across their IT infrastructure. They will have to decouple systems of record from the experience in order to increase agility and interoperability. For too long, innovations in customer experience have been hampered by the mission-critical applications that handle everything from charging for services to fulfilling orders, billing and other revenue-dependent tasks. During the webcast, Jason gave a closer look at Digital Experience for Communications, explaining in detail how a cloud solution can free CSPs to decouple the experience layer from mission-critical systems of record to more rapidly innovate and speed time to innovation and revenue. In fact, the solution demonstrates how a cloud solution can bring CSPs the best of both worlds—verticalized/telecom-specific customer experience management on top of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (and all that comes with it like autonomous services, integrated security and serverless compute), not to mention leading data platforms and cloud applications. Unlike other solutions that offer only a portion of the stack, the API-first, ODA-standard architecture gives operators the flexibility to build and operate either their entire business or portions of their business on a cloud platform, bringing them the ultimate in flexibility, operational excellence, efficiency and reduced costs. And as Jason called out in the conversation, Digital Experience for Communications was architected by the same person who built Netflix’s Emmy-award winning recommendation capabilities, Pritham Shetty—now a group VP of CX industry solutions for Oracle. Pritham and his team designed the solution to be agile and easy to use through certified open APIs that enable the experience layer to be decoupled from the systems of record. In fact, he noted Oracle has the number-one position on the TM Forum leaderboard for certified open APIs. The consequent interoperability and agility mean the experience layer can be decoupled from the systems of record so that CSPs can tailor new agent desktop experiences, new digital assistants, and AI-based recommendations without the traditional constraints of underlying mission-critical systems. This is critical as CSPs increasingly compete with webscale and over-the-top competitors that can rapidly roll out new experiences, hence disrupting operators’ revenue streams and profit margins. Additionally, this interoperability and flexibility provides a path to transformation, as described in the webcast by Oracle’s Siebel expert George Jacob, group vice president, CRM apps.  He explained how Siebel customers can keep what they have without a rebuild, and instead layer on new CX innovations in specific apps, cloud-ready interaction channels, big data and machine learning. For example, starting with Siebel as the customer master (or, in the front office, the product catalog and order master), adding different aspects of Digital Experience for Communications’ “Launch,” starting with the product catalog to speed product offer processes, then moving on to “Care” and then to “Omnichannel” for end-to-end order management (see sidebar, below). That frictionless evolution is due in large part to the use of standard data models for cleansing and normalizing customer-, product-, audit- and asset data. The data integrity and consistency of DX4C translates into best-in-class intelligence, helping CSPs proactively assess the lifetime value of customers, drilling down to see which ones will likely renew or churn, and assessing what types of customer engagement will make sense at different points in each customer’s journey. Additionally, it allows for customer segmentation and sophisticated CX algorithms that help CSPs further drill into data for more specific, highly targeted campaigns that provide contextual customer engagement and interaction.  This type of personalized engagement will be increasingly important, according to Accenture managing director Andrea Cesarini, who explained during the webcast that our “new normal” has been an accelerator to the need for a “new currency” of combined customer experience + resilience + trust. As he explained, COVID-19 has pushed the adoption of digital channels and consolidated 10 years of transformation into six months, forever changing customers’ lives and perceptions. Andrea believes telcos are in a very good position, citing the strong correlation between technology and this new currency as operators invest in 5G, fiber and the IoT. With the power of cloud, CSPs will rapidly adjust to accommodate the needs of evolving customer expectations today, while ensuring they have the agility and scale they need for what’s to come tomorrow. Visit our new Digital Experience for Communications website to learn about Oracle Digital Experience for Communications, and how it enables service providers to deliver relevant and personalized offers, service packages, and care using in-depth knowledge of each customer’s unique buying behaviors and preferences. Feel free to contact us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.    

This discussion gives an operator, system integrator and vendor perspective on where we are headed and what needs to happen to speed innovation and revenue in a bold new digital world full...

Community

Diversity and inclusion efforts increase innovation and profitability—but where to start?

Most thought leaders embrace “diversity and inclusion” philosophically, and outwardly support it because its benefits cannot be disputed, and, it’s just the right thing to do. Research overwhelmingly shows growth in profitability when employees and management teams of diverse backgrounds come together, and this has been shown to be true particularly for industries where innovation is critical to growth (i.e., tech, start-ups, etc.). The fact is more creativity comes from different perspectives. In addition to that, Millennials — now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, with more than 73 million — have tremendous influence over our economy and they increasingly seek companies, brands, universities and jobs with diversity and inclusion as part of their mandates. But exacting meaningful change is tough, really tough, as we all have our own perspectives and prisms through which we view the world. The light bends according to our upbringing, individual experiences, age, relationship status, education, wealth, nationality, color, language, culture, and so much more. It would take pages to tease out all that makes one individual’s perspectives different from another’s. So how can we as companies, as leaders, as managers, really bring about change to be truly diverse, truly inclusive enough that harmony exists even without uniformity? As a start, everyone from low- and mid-level managers to C-Suite executives has to be really honest about the roots of diversity issues and bias. In her recent blog, Oracle’s Kimberly Ellison-Taylor talks about “Inclusive leadership” and the need for leaders to intentionally create environments in which the strengths of each person are understood and their ideas and opinions encouraged. I would go a step further and say we as leaders have to make an effort to understand the unique characteristics of each individual—as a person, not an employee—as the individual working for you remains a very distinct human being. People will be happier, more loyal, more productive in their work environments if they feel the freedom to communicate and reveal the things that make them different from others on the team. That sounds trite, perhaps, but there are probably people on your team right now who feel embarrassed or discouraged to reveal things that are “different” about themselves—or that they perceive to be so. By building diverse and inclusive teams, we can encourage dialogue from all team members and make work comfortable and inclusive for all. These teams can help guide recruitments, trainings and policies—fostering collaboration between those who live with bias and those who do not. If we don’t make a point of doing so, the impacts can be astounding. For example, in a recent letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield, more than 1,200 employees from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conveyed that a lack of diversity in the agency was hurting the nation’s ability to address the impact of COVID-19 on the most hardly hit people. The same could happen in our industry, as transformational technologies like cloud, AI, machine learning and predictive analytics can unintentionally promulgate bias and affect every industry investing in digital transformation and digitization. At Oracle, we continue to expand our efforts for an inclusive workplace that brings together diverse backgrounds and experiences, and stimulates a collaborative culture. We are committed to identifying and cultivating the strengths of each person and team, clearing the path for individual and collective contributions by building relationships and encouraging communications that highlight different points of view, accomplishments and goals. To learn more about the employee resources we have to connect different diversities of communities, go here and feel free to contact me on LinkedIn. Subscribe today!

Most thought leaders embrace “diversity and inclusion” philosophically, and outwardly support it because its benefits cannot be disputed, and, it’s just the right thing to do. Research overwhelmingly...

5G

How 5G can benefit everyone, even our most beloved technophobes

A case study of how the magic of EMBB, URLLC and MMTC can help people like me and my ‘Mom’ In a recent blog, I discussed the need for edge computing to address the requirements of 5G.  As a reminder, changes in technology to support 5G mobile standards are expected to yield a 10-100X increase in data rates, support 10-100X more connected devices and result in 5-10X reduction in latency when compared to our current standard.  Though this sounds great, it’s really rather academic unless it can be applied as a meaningful use case. Below is a health-monitoring use case that hits home for me and others like me: My mother-in-law, ‘Mom,’ is elderly and lives alone 2,150 kilometers from us. She has let us know she will only leave her house (and I quote) “hanging on by my fingernails.” This represents a familiar scenario for many and, thankfully, there are solutions that will continue to improve with the revolution of 5G. The advances will help families like mine keep track of loved ones who are far away, even if they have little interest in the technology. In particular, there are three families of use cases that will apply: (1) Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB), (2) Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and (3) Massive Machine Type Communications (MMTC). These three are meaningful for my situation, as they can help me closely and actively monitor my Mom’s health. MMTC provides support for the propagation of intelligent devices, like those Mom could wear to regularly monitor her vital signs (e.g., heart rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure).  EMBB and URLCC would work together to provide the ability to capture and aggregate large volumes of biometric data in real-time — data I’ll want to access on a daily basis. This is all good news for me as it can give me some peace of mind, but how does this actually work?  While some CSPs may decide to move into the health care business (Telstra Health, for example), it’s more likely that they will partner with companies specializing in these types of services including IoT-based remote health monitoring. CSPs need a way to onboard these partners with low commercial and technical friction, and quickly assemble a joint offer in the CSP’s commercial catalog of services.  They need agility of open OSS solutions to roll out new use cases and services rapidly, and to monetize new business models at scale through the efficiency of the cloud. As a consumer, all I need is an easy-to-use channel by which to digitally engage with my CSP, so that I can review the service offerings, choose essential add-ons (that, preferably, are recommended to me automatically), and select billing options that will likely be a combination of monthly subscription and usage charges, perhaps based on data size consumed and number of alerts per month.   Once I place my order, the technical magic of provisioning occurs, the result of which is the delivery of sensor-laden wearable devices to Mom. The actual technology deployment in her home must be miniscule, as she will not have the ability or expertise to manage it. That’s why most of the workload for monitoring Mom’s health has to be in the Cloud. It has to be captured in real-time, and the aggregation of the data must be in proximity of the sensors. Enter: Edge cloud.   As I indicated in prior writings, these edge clouds are under active development with geographical coverage rapidly increasing. While some of this expansion is in CSP datacenters, the vast majority of the growth will be led by IaaS providers like Oracle, AWS, Google, and Microsoft. As these IaaS platforms proliferate, the historical concerns about SaaS such as data sovereignty, latency and security are increasingly addressed.   So where does 5G network slicing fits into all of this? The most economical approach to a remote-health monitoring scenario is for the CSP to provide its IoT partner with network slices for geriatric communities, with similar Quality-of-Service (QoS) characteristics and economies of scale. Once again, the CSP must have provisioning tools that enable the creation and management of these network slices. The image below depicts what this scenario looks like for the CSP:   As depicted, the service delivery model accounts for the fact that: • Multiparty business models are the norm, and dependent on commercial and technical collaboration. • Cloud-enabled applications seamlessly interacting with virtualized and software-defined dynamic networks are required to automate provisioning and management of services. • Delivery of compound services with complex dependencies will be enabled and provided by clouds at the network edge. Oracle supports this delivery model with a variety of solutions, as shown below, namely Digital Experience for Communications (DX4C), Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) and Service and Network Orchestration (SNO) designed to work together as well as in unison with third-party TM Forum ODA-compliant solutions:   Our solutions will enable CSPs to partner with providers to support ecosystem-style offerings, develop bundled commercial offers, guide buyers in selection of services personalized and optimized for their needs, provision the services, as well as the IT and communications network resources required to deliver the service. CSPs with automated slice design and service delivery will be the first to capitalize on slicing’s ability to deliver bandwidth-intensive and QoS-sensitive services, triggering use cases that will achieve not only the monumental tasks of things like remote surgery, but the also more mundane yet equally important tasks that will help people like me help people like my Mom. To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar “The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G" and our new eBook “Modernizing CSP Back-Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control." Subscribe here for future blogs!  

A case study of how the magic of EMBB, URLLC and MMTC can help people like me and my ‘Mom’ In a recent blog, I discussed the need for edge computing to address the requirements of 5G.  As a reminder,...

5G

The most meaningful 5G (r)evolution will take place in the industrial enterprise

So much attention is paid to how 5G will impact the consumer market that the potential for industrial use cases can be lost in the noise, but this is where CSPs should focus now. From connected cars to connected cows, there is no shortage of hype around all that 5G will enable and how much the market will be worth. While the immediate focus is digital transformation, it is industrial transformation that will bring about the most meaningful change in our society. While consumer-driven services for streaming video, live TV or wireless gaming on social media capture the imagination and seem to be the most talked-about right now, the industrial enterprise is where the most impactful change will occur. The sub-millisecond/enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable connectivity that comes with 5G will bring a sea change in the production, maintenance and logistics that shape asset-driven industries, such as manufacturing, construction, mining, factories, healthcare, farming, transportation, oil and gas, and more. These industries will need to manage an exploding number of autonomous assets as they bring to life connected robotics, automated manufacturing, remote control, food security, autonomous driving and vehicle-to-everything (V2X), automated guided vehicles (AGVs), smart buildings, and so much more. We need to think now about how to engage those industry partners best positioned to reap the automation and process efficiencies that 5G promises. With 3GPP release 16, 5G NR enhancements like low latency are in place, expanding the possibilities for dynamic spectrum sharing, mid-band and millimeter-wave spectrum. And with release 17 on the horizon, there will be improved support for increased reliability and massive machine connectivity, giving industrial enterprises more of the security, control and flexibility they need.   The time is ripe for collaboration between communications service providers (CSPs), cloud experts like Oracle, and industry application providers who know where 5G will bring the most value.  New network topologies and solutions like multi-access edge computing—something 90 percent of industrial enterprises will invest in by 2022 — are already being established. Realizing the full potential of the fourth industrial revolution will require new business models delivered across robust supply, application and production ecosystems tied together with common data and connectivity solutions.   To prepare, we have invested in a cloud-native, microservices-based 5G core with slicing support, which can be deployed on private or public cloud platforms. We have deep expertise in not only building cloud-native applications but also operating them in a DevOps model, offering CSPs more deployment options  as they migrate applications to containers and Kubernetes. We are a Platinum member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), furthering our commitment to open source serverless platforms. All of that work combines with our deep experience in telecommunications and the industries that will be most affected by 5G. To learn more about how we can help you make the most of 5G in industrial use cases, feel free to contact us with any questions. And be sure to subscribe to our blog today! About Oracle Communications Oracle Communications provides integrated communications and cloud solutions for Service Providers and Enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation journey in a communications-driven world from network evolution to digital business to customer experience. To learn more about Oracle Communications industry solutions, visit: Oracle Communications LinkedIn, or join the conversation at Twitter @OracleComms.    

So much attention is paid to how 5G will impact the consumer market that the potential for industrial use cases can be lost in the noise, but this is where CSPs should focus now. From connected cars to...

5G

My one-year anniversary with Oracle: a year like no other

A year ago, I became a part of the Oracle Communications Global Business Unit. Here is what I’ve seen and what I think is on the horizon. This has been a year of change for me, professionally and personally. I joined Oracle Communications after a 25-year career in telecommunications, with the last 20 being on the operator side of the industry. My tenure consisted of 10 years with Vodafone (through its Cable and Wireless acquisition) and 10 years at Telstra before that. These companies were headquartered in the United Kingdom and Australia, respectively, so my move to Oracle also represented my first time working for an American-headquartered company since the early, early days of my career at NYNEX Meridian Systems. Initially, when I met Mike Sicilia and other top executives from the Oracle family, I wondered if I’d feel a bit out of place after so many years immersed in the carrier culture. But that’s exactly why I was brought in—to give the operator perspective, especially important as the industry transitions to 5G. Our industry has talked about “transformation” for years, but this is no longer pie-in-the-sky stuff. In the past ten months alone, COVID-19 has managed to truly change the trajectory of 5G. I feel even more inspired now than the day I started as so much of what I felt has been reinforced by the impact we have had on society with our solutions: connecting people to loved ones, keeping businesses running, and transferring information to where it’s needed most. I have always been a major advocate of remote work, but to see it on such a large scale has been a huge eye opener. The impacts will be felt for years to come, and we are in a good position to further develop new ways of working through an expansion of our existing portfolio into adjacent areas that will drive growth from legacy networks. As CSPs and businesses move to the cloud, we will further partner across Oracle to increase the breadth and depth of our best-of- breed solutions—always with security and quality as key pillars in our strategy. There is so much opportunity. And, there is so much at stake. Our customers have to both compete against and collaborate with hyperscale cloud companies and others that now realize communications is a critical industry underpinning all others. The pandemic elevated the role of communications, and CSPs rose to the challenge almost flawlessly. They now know the extent to which they can exact meaningful change, as long as they continue to tap into their customers’ changing perspectives, whether they be consumers, businesses, institutions, governments, municipalities or societies. CSPs are reimagining 5G, the IoT, legacy IT integration, governance, data privacy, security and so much more. They are looking at what they sell and resell today, and what unique capabilities they possess to change business models, enable digital marketplaces and participate in expanding ecosystems. The enterprise space in particular represents the biggest area of growth for CSPs, especially in industrial use cases like manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, energy, automotive and utilities. My main focus this year will be leveraging the vertical application experience of Oracle and combining it with our expertise in communications networks to expand our solutions in the IoT space. This is really exciting; it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. With 5G trials becoming 5G deployments, and with CSPs’ initial consumer focus now balancing more with an enterprise focus, there are new questions to ask. What will be the new lines of business? Will it be private 5G networks or dedicated networks and services provided to enterprises via network slices? In what cases will CSPs be going it alone or choosing to integrate or partner for end-to-end digital services? I am happy to see our CSP customers focused as ever on investing in core infrastructure to support the growing need for remote working and learning, and layered on top they are still focusing on 5G, IoT and the future. To differentiate, they will have to bring to their customers and partners a real quality of experience (QoE). In that vein, they will have to abstract the complexity coursing through multicloud and “as-a-service” environments. We continue to work with CSPs to rein in the complexity of 5G, including: the 5G technology (the RAN and core); cloud and virtualization of network functions via cloud native VNFs; converged policy; software-defined networks; and orchestration of networks and services. We are now scratching the surface of what’s imaginable and even unimaginable, seeing what used to be pie-in-the-sky dreaming come closer to reality. CSPs are now going to be the enablers and the common thread throughout all industries as the cocreators of services, network slices and mobile edge computing/multi-access edge. Capitalizing on this opportunity for change will not only take the right technology but also people. People are our most important asset as the greatest technology innovation doesn’t mean a thing without the right people. That’s why I’ve started an Employee Engagement Council in the Oracle Communications Global Business Unit to create a continuous feedback loop and encourage diversity of thought. I want people to express what they really feel as opposed to what they perceive others want to hear. Getting diverse opinions heard and counted is the way to advance culture. The level of expertise, development work and support that goes into our solutions is astounding, so furthering people’s skills and beliefs in themselves will help them continue to move forward in their careers. I welcome any feedback, so please comment below or reach out to me on LinkedIn.   *Please subscribe today for a quarterly round up of Oracle Communications' top blogs!    

A year ago, I became a part of the Oracle Communications Global Business Unit. Here is what I’ve seen and what I think is on the horizon. This has been a year of change for me, professionally...

5G

Why do operators need converged policy to generate revenue in 5G?

Converged policy will be critical to monetizing 5G services Operators continue to face an uphill battle to 5G, as the hyperscalers have caused disruptive change by building software-based networks from the ground up. This means they can deliver services to customers over these greenfield deployments much faster than the operators can. Not to mention, they can customize and scale these services more efficiently and hence generate revenues much more rapidly. The reality is that hyperscalers are more prepared to compete in 5G with new services, so operators need to catch up as their relationships with large cloud providers move toward coopetition. Through technologies like SDN/NFV, network analytics, and cloud, operators are modernizing existing infrastructures to offer services in next generation networking. Simultaneous to that evolution, operators have to make sure converged policy also evolves so they can deliver services without disruption, even as they migrate services to new core platforms. They cannot miss the mark on agreed upon SLAs. If they do, they risk customer churn – something they cannot afford right now. An independent, cloud-native converged policy can help telcos keep the lights on by meeting service levels while investing in 5G. When it comes to 5G, a converged policy needs to be cloud-native so it can support both traditional and next-gen networking functions. For example, it should be able to govern network behavior and drive QoS control, while also supporting network slicing and enablement of differentiated services. In the long run, there will be many benefits of cloud-native, including support for continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and DevOps workflows, automation, analytics, and the ability to run services in VMs or containers. That said, achieving those benefits will be heavily dependent on the architecture on top of which the policy management system runs. Operators for the most part are taking a stepwise approach to platform migration. A recent Omdia report found that 87 percent of operators plan to progress from 4G to 4GLTE/5G non-standalone (NSA) to 5G standalone (SA) core, as opposed to leapfrogging straight to SA. Having a cloud-native policy management solution will support seamless 4G/5G interworking so that operators can migrate 4G-enabled policy use cases to 5G platforms ensuring a consistent user experience for both 4G and 5G subscribers. That interworking will also ensure they can run services over whatever access network is most efficient for specific workloads. As that happens, the gap will start to narrow between what operators and what hyperscalers offer in terms of service delivery optimization.   Cloud-native, converged policy solutions will also be important for future proofing. While operators work to maximize current policy assets to save costs, they need to also move forward with monetizing 5G services. Policy has to be viewed as a way to empower them to make policy modifications that align with their architecture migration plans. As the market moves further into 5G networking, and as the hyperscalers continue to poach service revenues from operators, it will be important to seek policy management partners that can help save costs while also investing in future 5G service delivery systems. They should seek solutions that meet the criteria shown in the figure below: Cloud-native converged policy management in 5G Source: Omdia Oracle understands these requirements. Its converged policy management system is cloud-native and independent in that it can be integrated with operators’ existing charging and business process management (BPM) systems. This protects current policy investments while operators upgrade to 5G in a way that is consistent with their cloud maturity. It can help operators reduce the complexity in platform migration, improve time to market by consolidating decision making in a single policy framework, and preserve current policy investments be evolving from 4G to 5G incrementally. To learn more about how an independent, cloud-native converged policy system will address market demands, read our report “Converged Policy in 5G.” Also read the eBook “The Critical Role of Policy in the 5G Ecosystem,” and the solution brief “Cloud Native Converged Policy Solution for 4G and 5G.” *Please subscribe today for a quarterly round up of Oracle Communications' top blogs!  

Converged policy will be critical to monetizing 5G services Operators continue to face an uphill battle to 5G, as the hyperscalers have caused disruptive change by building software-based networks from...

5G

How 4G and 5G can coexist while you prepare for the future

Most operators think they’ll migrate to a full 5G standalone core within two years of commercial launch, but to get there they need an IT-driven, cloud native SBA with a DevOps mindset. Perhaps you can’t take your foot off the gas pedal of 4G while moving to 5G, but you can gradually apply power for a gentle, more elegant transition from 4G to 5G. Just as we learned in the journey of mobile from 3G to 4G, the transition among the “Gs” will be incremental, with early deployments starting at 5G radio and leveraging existing 4G network infrastructure. In fact, the 4G evolved packet core (EPC) will coexist with  the 5G core for quite a while, enabling operators and enterprise customers to take advantage of 5G features such as network slicing and user plane flexibility. The ability for 4G and 5G to coexist will depend on the different deployment, mediation and interworking protocols and options emerging from the 3GPP in: Option 2 (SA) standalone Option 3 (3/3a/3x) Option 7 (7/7a/7x) Option 4 (4/4a) Most operators think they’ll migrate to full standalone within two years of commercial launch, with some saying they’ll start off with standalone, as you can see in recent Light Reading and Heavy Reading surveys. Beyond 5G radio, the technology will extend across the full network from mobile access to the core from software defined networking to all forms of backhaul, IP and signaling, routing, fixed networks, software and more. In their planning, there are many questions operators should ask, including: Can I assume my infrastructure is ready to onboard to 5G network functions? What if my network staff has very little experience with 5G and Cloud Native? How can I ensure that my core network elements will interwork? Who can help me with integration to network management systems? How do I build out and integrate CI/CD pipeline? How do I minimize cost? Will solutions be telco-like? These questions, of course, are all asked in the context of the pandemic. Now that consumers, enterprises and governments realize how important agility and flexibility are in responding to even the most unexpected, there is more focus on how to quickly launch services and to redistribute compute and storage resources.  Optimization of networks will require best practices for building out 4G and 5G services in the context of cloud native and building a service-based architecture (SBA) that use COTS and cloud. 5G’s SBA will enable network elements to advertise and provide through APIs the services to be consumed by other elements in the core. Oracle Communications’ cloud-native, microservices-based 5G core supports the aforementioned deployment options through SBA. This affords operators flexibility of choice: they can implement their new 5G cores on bare metal or on virtual machine-based infrastructure. To help service providers navigate the challenges of the decisions around the new 5G core and which track to pursue, we offer a Cloud-Native 5G Core Network Transformation Service, which leverages the expertise of solution architects and local consultants that have developed best practices during their respective journeys working on 5G core deployments, including: deployment of 5G routing and selection; policy and database network functions along with HTTP/2 monitoring; CNE deployment, testing and delivery. In each case, regardless of the environment, implementation services are customized to the customer using evolving best practices for service delivery. With an integrated set of tools chosen by Oracle and 3rd party cloud-native experts, there can be rapid delivery with automation from test to deployment and CI/CD and independent lifecycle management of microservices. This will help to manage the inherent complexity of integrating 4G core and 5G components, especially with so many differences existing between network elements. The integration of the operations service layer to network management systems will be important to login, KPIs and set up of CI/CD and automated testing. The Oracle Communications cloud native portfolio is microservices-based, supporting many different deployment options with a distributed architecture for resiliency, scalability and security. This allows service providers to implement their new 5G Core on either a bare-metal or VM-based infrastructure. Of course, the beauty of this is that it enables service providers to leverage their current infrastructure and/or investment. Oracle’s 5G product includes the capability to do the work on behalf of the consumer network functions (NFs) so there can be intelligent discovery of the network topology, with session-aware dynamic routes between the consumer NF and producer NF in the network. This also includes a lineup of mix-and-match, pluggable, easy-to-deploy/modify/upgrade 5G applications that handle interoperability challenges with 4G and 5G. Important is the support of HTTP, Diameter and mediation plug-ins. We handle capacity goals seamlessly via horizontal scalability; flexibility, observability and traceability tools for metrics and monitoring; continuous deployment and automated testing to support use cases; and in-service upgrades and enhancements for canary releases. With the shift underway to IT-driven, cloud native SBA and a DevOps mindset, it’s incumbent on operators to look deeper into how they can leverage and improve group- and IT-based tools to support the special attributes of telecom services. That deeper evaluation will also necessitate more staff enablement and onboarding, which will be as critical as the rearchitecting of infrastructure in the evolution to 5G. For further information on Oracle Communications’ Consulting for Cloud Native 5G Core Implementation, please watch our “Journey to 5G” Webinar" and read Heavy Reading’s “5G Network and Service Strategies: 2020 Operator Survey” and Light Reading’s  “Future Networking Survey Report."  

Most operators think they’ll migrate to a full 5G standalone core within two years of commercial launch, but to get there they need an IT-driven, cloud native SBA with a DevOps mindset. Perhaps you...

Monetization

5G success: end-to-end billing beats plug-and-play (or plug-and-pray!)

A slap-dash approach to charging and billing in the near term can lead to long-term functionality gaps that emerge when it hurts the most   CIOs and CTOs have a critical strategic decision to make as they stand on the horizon of 5G opportunity. I think most CIOs realize the BSS and OSS applications that supported them in 3G and 4G will have to be modernized and transformed to meet customer demands and to reap the full rewards of 5G. How will they do it? Will they capitalize on the full value of 5G by partnering with solution vendors that understand the core end-to-end application requirements, or will they take a piecemeal approach and accept the risk of stitching together the many essential components? For example, recent announcements about tacking together billing and charging with on-the-fly partnerships will possibly close big solution gaps in the short term, but long term will leave service providers with a complicated technical aftermath. The potential for mistakes is perpetuated by single-function vendors that convince service providers that charging and other functions should be evaluated separately and integrated later. This wait-and-see approach forces vendors to fill voids when the time comes customers inevitably need more. The decorative face may look good on paper, but the wrinkles quickly emerge when circumstances change or one party is acquired by another, or market forces change their trajectory altogether. This is how the piecemeal approach has played out many times over the decades: each domain owner within the service provider finds a single function vendor for its respective area – commerce, billing, charging, CRM – and then it becomes someone’s difficult job to try and integrate them. All too often, codependent vendors create a solution veneer via paper partnerships that actually increase risk and create the need for separate contractual relationships and expensive integrations. Based on our extensive experience, the outcomes are almost always better when service providers make a strategic decision to invest in a complete solution architected in alignment with industry principles. Then, CIOs and CTOs are free to adopt components of the suite at any pace, with the knowledge and confidence that they can choose to plug-in additional components that will be pre-integrated and interoperable. The complete, standards-based solution is the most effective way to reap the full benefits of 5G through: Agility and speed: In the 5G era, business and IT agility are the most important attributes for service providers. TM Forum research indicates that 66 percent of service providers consider agility to be the top driver of transformation projects. Service providers who choose the solution path have the benefit of end-to-end automation and a unified approach to data, which translates into simpler changes to workflows, greater adaptability, and faster speed to market. Improved customer experience: Data must be applied across all customer touchpoints to ensure a positive customer experience. This requires unifying “front office” functions like care and commerce with elements like charging functions, real-time balance notifications, billing and payment history, among others. Customers today expect personalized, omnichannel experiences that are predicated on harmony of the underlying IT systems and data. Reduced risk: Service providers that partner with a single vendor have a single point of accountability. Application upgrades take place in harmony and data integrity is maintained across the solution. A single vendor’s commitment to this space protects the service provider’s investment from changes in corporate direction or M&A activities. Lowered cost: Leveraging the pre-integrations inherent in a complete suite dramatically reduces the costs of implementation, integration and ongoing management. A complete solution has never been more important than today because 5G represents a once-in-a-generation inflection point for the communications industry. In the next few years, successful service providers will reinvent themselves to take advantage of the many new business models enabled by network slicing, IoT and expanding ecosystems. They will leverage the characteristics of 5G to address the B2B and B2B2X opportunities across industries and will increasingly cocreate and tailor 5G-enabled solutions. This will introduce many new requirements across the IT spectrum, from keeping multiparty commercial offers in sync across channels to harmonizing subscription terms to handling charging and revenue management with multiple partners. And it will require a low cost of entry so service providers can very quickly explore new business models without having to assemble multivendor stacks for each potential opportunity. Success in 5G will require that all underlying applications work in harmony Oracle’s 5G Now portfolio demonstrates our deep investment and commitment to the current and future needs of the communications industry. This complete, API-driven 5G solution complies with 3GPP specifications and is architected in alignment with the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture to maximize business and IT agility. Oracle is a signatory to the Open Digital Architecture manifesto and is ranked #1 in certification of TM Forum Open APIs. This solution includes all the best-in-class capabilities for service providers to unlock the value of 5G including: Real-time converged charging together with billing that supports any pricing model and integrates with policy control; Digital experience with personalized, omnichannel engagements; Dynamic slice management and unified inventory to automate the complexity of 5G networks; Model-driven service orchestration to automate fulfillment of 5G services; Partner ecosystem enablement including zero touch partnering, revenue settlement and bundled offer design and launch. To bring to life the value of this complete portfolio, consider a scenario that is familiar to all of us in the COVID-19 environment: football games being played in empty stadiums with fans viewing at home. Imagine a service provider partnering with a football league to bring an immersive 5G-enabled virtual reality experience to viewers at their homes. The service provider quickly spins up dedicated network slices to enable high-speed, lag-free viewing experiences and offers this service through personalized marketing campaigns to sports fans based on their digital profiles. Fans sign up through digital or traditional channels, after which they are provisioned for service on the 5G network. Their activity is charged in real time and they receive notifications about thresholds so they can manage their balances dynamically. Charging data flows seamlessly into billing and revenue management, which in turn manages revenue sharing between the service provider and football league, and any other partner (i.e., a virtual reality headset maker). This short video demonstrates the end-to-end capabilities that come together in an integrated fashion to enable this new 5G business model, without any need for cobbling together multivendor point products. With that said, there are situations in which hybrid solutions can make sense, as in areas of 5G architecture where there are distinct functional responsibilities and little overlap or integration to upstream systems. For example, network core functions that are distinct in a service mesh architecture can interoperate smoothly in multivendor environments. But when it comes to the many interdependencies among functions like billing, charging, fulfillment and CX, a blueprint and standards-based solution are necessary to achieve business goals. These are interdependencies that will become more prevalent with 5G. For innovative service providers reinventing themselves to capitalize on the 5G opportunity, a holistic approach to IT applications, and complete, modular solutions are what will bring the greater levels of agility and enhanced customer experiences — and all at reduced risk and cost. To learn more, contact us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.    

A slap-dash approach to charging and billing in the near term can lead to long-term functionality gaps that emerge when it hurts the most   CIOs and CTOs have a critical strategic decision to make as...

5G

How has the pandemic changed the trajectory of 5G?

The impact of COVID-19 on 5G pushes us to adjust our plans according to where we are today, not where we were yesterday. It’s no secret that telcos around the world did an absolutely fantastic job in keeping us all connected, productive and entertained through the crisis. Generally, their networks worked flawlessly even though this event crept up on them without any warning. But rather than flaunt the success, it seems they are going on their humble way. Why? Now, suspended in time as we are, there are choices to be made. Businesses of all types need to adapt and quickly. Change isn't optional. They are at an inflection point where they can revert back or galvanize real, meaningful change in terms of business models, services, and monetization. As an industry, we can no longer say “we need five years to exact real change or transformation.” Now is the time because people, enterprises, societies are primed for digital transformation, now. I am disappointed so many of the 5G discussions today mirror those from seven months ago. How can that be, since this event has changed the trajectory for 5G? COVID-19 has triggered an evolution in our collective thinking, with all of us more aware of the interdependencies among us as people, as communities, as nations in tackling and responding to this challenge. We have reconsidered what really matters most to us— the way we work, the way we learn, the way we connect with our friends and loved ones. For these reasons, 5G has to be touted as a revolution in telecommunications and not just because of its speed, lower latency, or broadband capabilities —although these in themselves are game changers — but rather because of the Cloud and the eSim factor. The application, distribution and multiplicity of uses for eSims will be the enabler of the IoT explosion, and the capability of 5G to manage all of this is the real revolution. The possibilities are boundless and there appears to be no shortage of ideas to exploit the 5G capabilities. For telcos, it will mean letting go of some past obstacles to forge ahead. Yes, your OSS/BSS have hamstrung you; yes, people’s mindsets weren’t ready yet. Sure, enterprises didn’t believe in new use cases. But now they do! We all need what only you can offer, and you have the brainpower to do as the scientific community is in rallying to condense 10 years of vaccine development into perhaps one year. Rather than look at 5G through a pre-crisis lens, we have to realize the use cases we thought would lead the way no longer matter as much, and the use cases we thought would trail might be the ones that lead. Our perspectives have to truly change. Consider how pre-crisis we thought voice was “dying,” and now it’s reborn as a comfort app, helping all of us to connect in a more human way during this era of physical distancing. Voice is up with call volumes increasing about 25 percent and call durations about 33 percent. As a result, operators are no longer looking to reduce their investment in fixed line, but rather to maintain and perhaps even grow it. As people work, learn, and seek entertainment at home, they grow more dependent on fixed lines, and the operators’ networks have unquestionably been reliable, secure and sustainable throughout. Even as traffic patterns have changed, networks have worked remarkably well, with traffic distribution spread much more evenly throughout the day from the evening peaks, making much more efficient use of network resources. Pre-crisis, we also thought enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) would be a fixed mobile replacement, long predicted to be an early deployment strategy for 5G. But the past few months shows this is unlikely to be the focus, in the short term at least. The major questions are “Will we return to working and learning as we did before? Will we carry on as we are now? Or, will we live a hybrid of both? I suspect the answer is the latter. We will someday go back to seeing large crowds of people, packed on trains, streaming their favorite shows, music or podcasts on their afternoon commutes from work. And drivers will once again need real-time congestion updates in bumper-to-bumper traffic. But for now, the more important use cases for 5G and IoT will have to do with other things, such as the logistics for the transport of goods during periods when manufacturers and factories are slowed or limited by employees sheltering in place. Or perhaps IoT and smart city use cases that have more to do with the delivery of healthcare services, public safety and smart utilities rather than traffic congestion management or in-car entertainment. Online medicine will also continue to grow during the pandemic, and as wearables like smart watches evolve to provide personal health information, 5G will become the medium to collect, analyze and direct pertinent information to the medical world. Will telcos step up to the plate and offer SLAs to consumers who are working from home, or who are steeped in virtual learning from home. This is a must-have in our new normal, as “the internet was down” will become the new “dog-ate-my-homework” and enterprises and consumers alike will want there to be some accountability and be willing to pay for it. For enterprises, 5G’s impact may shift more toward security and network management amid more widely dispersed workforces and complex digital ecosystems, driving the early use of edge computing to support real-time applications like augmented reality (AR) and IoT-connected sensors. Enterprises will also consider how the combination of 5G-enabled networks, collaborative platforms and applications will continue to improve not only their employees’ and customers’ lives despite disruption, but the planet as a whole. Already they see a profound impact on the measurement, monitoring and control of CO2 emissions, wildlife forest management, sea levels, weather, and drinking water. What can 5G in the context of our “new normal” truly accomplish? Other questions to ask revolve around customers’ changing locations. Borderless homes and offices are freeing certain demographics of people to move away from densely populated locations toward the suburbs and even rural areas. Should this shift change where 5G investment is concentrated, or the timing of it? 5G’s ability to improve mobile broadband and support the IoT made it an ideal investment for densely populated cities and urban settings where small cells could be deployed. But if the people and businesses telcos initially wanted to target with 5G move out to areas covered by 4G, what should they do? How will demographic shifts affect the rightful demand for universal coverage? As these questions are asked, telcos will have to reassess network configurations, as well as the spectrum and sites needed to meet consumer and enterprise connectivity demands. Similarly, enterprises will have to reassess what they’ll need from networks and also from the communications-driven tools on which they rely to keep their employees productive and service outcomes positive. And last but not least, we must all recognize that 5G networks have become as essential as water and electricity to global social and economic development. Broadband networks support public health and safety, crisis management, financial markets, supply chains, and so much more. As networks become national assets, what impact will there be on competition, regulation and net neutrality?  Also, how can we address the digital divide, particularly with the aforementioned demographic shift from cities to suburbs and rural areas so that everyone has access to the benefits of 5G technology. These are just some of the questions operators and all of us in the industry should be asking when determining how the path toward 5G should change. The answers to these questions will guide our evolution within the revolution, informing decisions about where 5G networks will be needed, and what products and services should ride on top of those networks to help people keep in touch with loved ones and to optimally work, learn and thrive in increasingly virtual settings. If 4G is any indication—not considered extraordinary until the transformation happened on top of it from the likes of Uber and YouTube—there is so much we can do with 5G during these historic and unprecedented times. There is tremendous opportunity to exact meaningful change in the areas that matter most to all of us. We are in the middle of a true telecommunications transformation, beyond the vague concept that had been discussed for years in numerous papers and endless conferences. The crisis has imposed this transformation on the industry and so far, it’s been superbly handled on the fly. But now we must accelerate the pace of this imposed transformation and reevaluate with urgency the network strategies and application strategies, across the OSS/BSS world, to reflect this rapid change toward the new digital world. If we don’t, someone else will. Please feel free comment below as I want to hear people’s thoughts and start a conversation on this. Also, be sure to watch my recent discussion at 5G Realised with CTOs Brendan O’Reilly (O2 UK), Howard Watson (BT) and Ibrahim Gedeon (Telus).  

The impact of COVID-19 on 5G pushes us to adjust our plans according to where we are today, not where we were yesterday. It’s no secret that telcos around the world did an absolutely fantastic job in...

Orchestration

Without modern OSS/BSS, 5G network investments may be throwing good money after bad

Your 5G success is dependent on dynamic orchestration and modern monetization Last month, I participated in a GSMA Intelligence panel discussion “OSS or BSS: which is more critical to 5G success?” This isn’t really an either-or question but rather one of how service providers will modernize their back office: the operations support systems (OSS) that manage their networks and the business support systems (BSS) that monetize them. As operators redesign and reimagine their networks for 5G and cloud native, they have to think of how they’ll draw together OSS and BSS, with the orchestration component enabling dynamic slice creation and managing the lifecycle of slice-based services.  The OSS will manage the service lifecycle and the resources important to a slice, and BSS the ordering, charging and billing. Modernization, and hence simplification, standardization and automation, in the back office will be critical to exposing network capabilities upstream to the customer engagement layer and to efficiently enabling business models fostered by new partnerships, ecosystems and marketplaces. I believe two main business models will emerge for operators in the enterprise segment, with operators electing to pursue one or the other, or indeed both, in order to address different needs in the market: The first in which operators will co-create and/or build ecosystems of compelling industry solution propositions for telematics, healthcare, finance, etc., with their telco brand front and center. In this scenario, telcos move clearly beyond connectivity and monetize the value of bringing all parties together for an end consumer or enterprise service for which they deliver SLAs. The other more traditional model is focused on providing the most flexible and efficient connectivity possible, where telcos expose their network capabilities, granting enterprises and solution providers the visibility, assurance, security and most importantly the control to tailor the increasingly configurable network to innovate and create solutions unique to their industry. For both of these models, operators need to move beyond the historical approaches where they have multiple, if not scores of BSS/OSS systems and instances – the “legacy deficit.” Within increasingly sophisticated 5G environments, the siloed domain-specific OSS approaches of the past will have to transform to a more holistic and horizontal approach to capitalize on the promised advancements of 5G technologies. On the BSS side, the processes and systems will have to evolve to support such capabilities as generic billing and invoicing, not just for the telcos’ own customers, but for customers of their customers – be it the enterprise customer (B2B), a partner or the end customer of that partner (B2B2X). Such OSS/BSS decisions should be driven by the business models being pursued – but sometimes they may evolve independently resulting in operators looking to adopt a B2B2X model with BSS/OSS barely suited to the B2B model. For operators addressing the 5G enterprise opportunity, they might start with a compelling user experience to their customers, their partners and their own employees. They will want to expose capabilities for ease of partner onboarding within their ecosystem, and these third-party domain experts will want digitization and user friendliness from a customer experience perspective (for both internal and external). Many enterprises are becoming more familiar with the opportunities to apply 5G within their own industry. In addition to addressing high-value, industry-specific scenarios, they will want to freely configure and assure such services with dashboard portals for full visibility and control. Moving more at webscale velocity, these enterprises will not tolerate delays of weeks or even months to turn up such services because of legacy telco OSS/BSS. They demand immediacy! For example, we are working with a disruptive MVNO in Asia that aspires to enter 20 countries in two years. The company doesn’t want to wait months or even weeks for market deployments, so it is instead focusing on small/medium/large deployment templates to rapid market entry and growth.  The lesson for most telcos is that even after instilling a DevOps and Cloud Native culture, there may still be a need for organizational changes to ensure those in charge of development are in alignment with those in operations. They have to fit hand-in-glove if there’s to be real-time responsiveness to market opportunities. The industry isn’t there yet. Most core legacy systems cannot support end-to-end functionality. It’s difficult for operators to deliver and charge for low latency and high reliability, as well as assure it and provide the SLA piece because there may not be the appropriate billing integration in place. Instead, they continue to use standalone solutions because of the integration costs involved. Change on the Horizon That will change, as the current investments in 5G networks around the world are going to push telcos to modernize, depending on what stage they are in for their deployments in different regions and countries: first migrating from 4G to 5G radio, and then 5G standalone with a 5G core, with EPC still there working in harmony for a while. While there is some debate about what use cases will drive 5G, there is little debate that the changes in infrastructure and spectrum sharing will have a profound impact on their back office, which has to optimize the management and monetization of this new infrastructure. To help, we as vendors – large and small — have to commit to openness, through Open source, through support of TIP, MEF, ETSI, Linux foundation, and all open models. We have to talk to each other rather than compete to knock down silos. We have to work toward real closed-loop operations, with end-to-end orchestration and correlation with complementary systems so that the necessary information is analyzed and the recommended actions take place seamlessly. Rather than impede agility, we have to work out the organizational processes, the technologies and the standards that matter. At Oracle, open standards and open APIs are part of our DNA – we are a platinum member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation with leading roles in TM Forum, MEF, TIP, etc. We have run demonstrated industry showcases of end-to-end orchestration and functionality for 5G success. And, we have thought deeply about service and network orchestration so that operators can tailor services to the unique needs of individual industries in a truly robust and scalable manner. To learn more, download the eBook,"Modernizing CSP Back-Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control." Subscribe today!  

Your 5G success is dependent on dynamic orchestration and modern monetization Last month, I participated in a GSMA Intelligence panel discussion “OSS or BSS: which is more critical to 5G success?” This...

Digital Experience

Balancing Agility and Stability in Mission-Critical Systems

The challenge of greater IT and business agility is addressed by TM Forum's Open Digital Architecture, which we have embraced in our DX4C solution. It’s a classic communications service provider dilemma: how do I attain the agility to respond quickly to change while simultaneously ensuring I have robust, scalable systems that power my communications business? The answer is getting easier thanks to newer approaches to designing systems, such as the TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture (ODA), for which we have been an advocate along with CSPs champions like BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Telenor. Service providers have so-called systems of record, which are the powerful applications that handle everything from charging for service to fulfilling an order. These systems are deeply entrenched in a service provider’s IT ecosystem, accomplishing mission-critical, revenue-dependent tasks. As such, they tend to evolve in a careful, risk-averse manner over long time frames. At the same time, service providers have systems of engagement that provide customer- or employee-facing experiences. They need the agility to create and tailor these experiences frequently. For example, a service provider may want to create a new agent desktop window, a new digital assistant skill or a new recommendation. Historically, service providers have been agility-constrained by the inability to change experiences without impacting the underlying systems as the two have traditionally been quite tightly coupled. Meanwhile, their webscale and over-the-top competitors, which don’t face those constraints, have quickly rolled out new experiences and in many cases disrupted service providers’ customer relationships, revenue streams and profit margins. The ODA addresses this fundamental challenge by decoupling the experience layer from the systems of record and thereby delivers much greater IT and business agility. This enables service providers to change experiences at digital speed while systems of record may evolve on their own timeframe. No need to rip and replace: reap the benefits of modern experiences while leveraging existing systems. Open APIs are fundamental to this architectural approach. The TM Forum has defined more than 50 APIs that expose the systems of record and facilitate interoperability. Oracle has embraced the ODA and is a signatory to the Open API and Open Digital Architecture Manifesto. By adopting the TM Forum Open Digital Architecture and Open APIs across our applications portfolio, we are providing operators with the business and IT agility to compete in fast-changing markets. Oracle’s Digital Experience for Communications solution is uniquely built to align with the TM Forum’s ODA using the DX4C Industry Fabric. This is critical to providing both IT and business agility and helps applications act more like microservices: service providers can design the customer and user experience by picking and choosing the underlying components and assemble them into an integrated experience. Similarly, DX4C uses TM Forum Open APIs to maximize interoperability. These open APIs are the language of DX4C’s Industry Fabric architecture as evidenced by the face we have achieved certification on five open APIs in areas including product catalog management, party management and account management. In addition to delivering agility by decoupling the systems of record and engagement, the DX4C Fabric, in adherence with the ODA, is designed to manage and intelligently master the flows of data between the systems within a service providers’ IT environment. Data management can be very complex when you consider customer data, product data, order data, asset data – across multiple systems. DX4C normalizes data across the enterprise using industry standard data models. This ensures that data is both accurate and consistent across all participating apps. Service providers can then apply intelligence to that data to drive more better customer interactions. Normalized and validated data is presented to business intelligence platforms to provide executive dashboards as well as to the experience layer in real time, where AI and ML can make the experience smarter, more personalized and relevant. Continuing its decades-long tradition of contributing the TM Forum industry standards, Oracle is currently participating in a catalyst project focused on further developing the ODA. Led by Vodafone, Orange, Telenor and China Unicom, this catalyst advances business operating systems and features a contribution from Oracle in integrating cloud native applications – namely Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management (BRM) – with SaaS applications like DX4C – with pioneering work in developing an ODA SaaS proxy to facilitate such smooth integration between SaaS and cloud-native components. In tandem with these innovations, Oracle Communications is adopting Open APIs across its DX4C, monetization and orchestration portfolio including BRM. This agility imperative is even more critical as we enter the 5G era. The stakes are high: service providers must embrace solutions and operational models designed for agility, or risk spending heavily on network investments only to be marginalized by disruptors. Previous eras were primarily driven by clear use case requirements, but the paradigm has now shifted. With the wide-open possibilities of 5G, no one yet knows the future killer use cases and so maximizing the ability for service providers and their partners to quickly explore new opportunities and deliver new services and experiences is more important than ever before. And this must be done against the backdrop of quickly and constantly changing customer expectations and vertical industry requirements. The TM Forum Open Digital Architecture brings to life the capabilities of Oracle’s DX4C Industry Fabric so that it accomplishes the twin goals of maintaining stability of mission-critical systems of record and delivering the agility to rapidly provide modern, connected digital experiences. To learn more about digital transformation in the 5G era, read “Attaining Agility and Beating Disruptors at Their Own Game,” and watch our new video about increasing agility and monetizing new business models. Also please subscribe to get our quarterly newsletter!  

The challenge of greater IT and business agility is addressed by TM Forum's Open Digital Architecture, which we have embraced in our DX4C solution. It’s a classic communications service provider...

Security

Our Take on the 5G Security EU Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation ‘Toolbox’

Now is the time to address security risks to ensure resiliency and security in 5G networks We’ve been actively tracking standards committees discussing security at a global and regional level, and we are working to help operators with 5G deployment options that mitigate security risks. With growing pressure to ban certain players from participating in Europe’s 5G networks, the European Commission instead approved a “toolbox of cybersecurity risk mitigation measures” which enables member states to assess the risk profiles of suppliers and "apply relevant restrictions for suppliers considered to be high risk.” To that end, each member state submitted a national risk assessment of its 5G network infrastructures, the results of which were outlined in a report that produced a list of key security concerns: Availability and integrity of networks Confidentiality and privacy concerns Rise of software and software-enabled services and applications enabled by 5G networks Role of suppliers in building and operating 5G networks Complexity of the interlinkages between suppliers and operators Degree of dependency on individual suppliers The new EU toolbox establishes a common European approach to 5G network security, giving each EU country the power to decide for itself whether or not a particular supplier is deemed to be a security threat. Our view on key measures of the 5G Security toolbox are given below: SM08* Diversity and sustainability of 5G supply and value chain — address dependency on a single supplier and create diversity of supply within each operator, as well as geographical balance at a national level to promote long-term sustainability of 5G supply chain. It is our view that a multi-supplier network provides operators with the most flexibility, resilience and highest security. Developing to industry standards ensures the ability to fully interwork with other suppliers. Leveraging this approach, our network products are already successfully deployed in multi-supplier networks around the world, interoperating with other suppliers who are compliant with industry standards. TM02* - Network security, baseline measures — ensure and evaluate the implementation of security measures in existing 5G standards. We take a security-first approach to software development, including stringent audits, and reviews by product security teams for each line of business to ensure  there is consistent compliance to the Oracle Software Security Assurance (OSSA) program. We also provide features that allow an operator to not only control the access to its network equipment but to deliver products that have no backdoors to unauthorized access. Our products and the delivery process ensure that customers control all security credentials such as passwords, certificates and encryption keys. Additionally, our software development process establishes that all shipped products have completed stringent auditing and testing. We do not allow “ad hoc” development in the field as this approach introduces too many vulnerabilities and cannot be properly audited and tested. TM11* - Reinforcing resilience and continuity plans We have a Corporate Risk Management Resiliency Program (RMRP) that establishes a business-resiliency framework providing response to business interruptions that may affect Oracle’s operation. The program is implemented and managed locally, regionally and globally. The program is externally audited as part of the TL-9000 and ISO-27001 certifications. And last but not least, we want to emphasize how important standardization and open interfaces are, as industry consensus and collaboration are the best way to mitigate risk, which is why we participate in many key standards organizations today, including 3GPP, GSMA, and IETF. We feel now is the time to address security risks to ensure resiliency and security in 5G networks, and we feel the  EU toolbox is a solid step in providing mitigating measures for identified 5G risks. Go here to see more about our security policies and contact us with any questions oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.    

Now is the time to address security risks to ensure resiliency and security in 5G networks We’ve been actively tracking standards committees discussing security at a global and regional level, and we...

Monetization/Orchestration

What does edge computing mean for 5G monetization and orchestration?

5G technology has the potential to dramatically improve the safety, quality, collaboration, and efficiency of our lives.  As technology uplifts 5G radio access, edge and core networks, transformative applications such as AR/VR and remote robotics will result in revolutions that will impact every industry. Edge computing, which moves computation and data storage closer to where it is needed, will need to mature to fully support the low-latency and high-availability communications needed for next-gen enterprise and IoT services expected in a 5G-enabled world. As a reminder, 5G requirements expect to result in: •    10-100 x increases in data rates; •    10-100 x more devices; •    5-10 x latency reduction Hub-and-spoke network configurations result in a relatively manageable number of core networks expanding into a greater number of distribution networks residing at the edge of the delivery network topology. While current networks are already complex, 5G network complexity compounds due to the more stringent 5G requirements combined with the shorter coverage ranges supported by the 5G spectrum bands. A further challenge is that densely populated urban areas require a very different profile of equipment than sparsely populated rural areas. Regardless of the scenario, to succeed, the networks must move closer to customers. Applications must meet the expected edge computing requirements so that it’s possible to deliver advanced services to consumers and businesses on a global scale. To that end, we are building a robust portfolio of monetization and orchestration (M&O) applications that meet the anticipated edge computing requirements. Our M&O applications are designed to play an important role in the design and activation of these new networks, as well as provisioning and monetizing the consumer and business services delivered on them.  Our Service & Network Orchestration (SNO) solution supports network slicing in different scenarios. The below example illustrates a telemedicine service provided on a dedicated low-latency network slice that can benefit from edge computing: As demand for edge computing continues to grow, we will continue to develop solutions for how edge will combine with the cloud. For example, applications such as security, policy management and charging are rational edge cloud candidates. To learn more about monetization and orchestration for 5G, edge computing and cloud, read our new whitepaper and ebook. Subscribe here for future blogs on this and related topics!          

5G technology has the potential to dramatically improve the safety, quality, collaboration, and efficiency of our lives.  As technology uplifts 5G radio access, edge and core networks, transformative...

Security

Destiny co-creates and customizes innovative new services with Oracle Communications

We started out as two brothers in a basement, and now we’re one of the fastest-growing B2B telecom operators in Europe with highly customized communications solutions tailored to the needs of individual businesses. The key to our success has been that we do things differently than the established players. We don’t sell just to sell. We don’t grow just to grow. We’ve been shouting “cloud” for years because we want to co-create and tailor solutions with customers whenever it makes sense to do so. For example, we are currently creating a high-end customer partner portal with 10 enterprise customers who want the same visibility as our internal support technicians into delivery, open tickets, ticket status and more. While other CSPs largely ignore SMBs with 20 to 200 employees, we have an entrepreneurship-focused culture that makes us agile enough to innovate in this underserved market. And we seek out partners and suppliers that want to equip and enable smaller, more innovative enterprises. The focus is specialized cloud communication solutions and digital marketplace for cloud services — something the most innovative enterprises in Europe need urgently. With COVID-19, this need is even more urgent, as an unprecedented number of employees are working from home. That fact has attracted more interest in Microsoft TEAMS functionality, which is why we run our Microsoft voice services through TEAMS Direct Routing with certified Oracle Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to deliver real-time communications such as VoLTE, VoIP, video conferencing and calling, presence, and IM. The SBC is fully certified to deliver Teams Direct Routing in a multitenant fashion, enabling us to offer hosted telephony integration into Teams for more revenue opportunities via cloud voice services. The key is the securing of IP connections during handovers to others so that all IP calls are protected from DDoS attacks and other network threats that would otherwise disrupt the performance of networks and traffic. In that way, the SBC plays a two-fold role in helping us secure our own networks as we connect to our customers, as well as securing our connections to other service providers. In addition to security, we feel an “all-time-available” approach further differentiates us from others. We guarantee that within four hours, any service or performance issue will either be resolved or a temporary fix put in place, such as a back-up router should there be an accidental cut to a line or other service interruption. Crucial to that approach is the Oracle Communications Operations Monitor solution (OCOM), which gives us insight into phone calls and session quality, regardless of location, the network or service provider. With OCOM, we rapidly find any problems on the IP communications network to ensure the customer experience remains positive. Proactive network monitoring covers a wide variety of standalone KPIs, as well as custom ones for voice network monitoring, service accessibility, retention and integrity—all of which can be aggregated by service, site and customer. We can access KPIs through configurable dashboards, SNMP and REST-based APIs. OCOM is complemented by the Oracle Communications Interactive Session Recorder (ISR), which helps our customers, such as insurers and financial institutions, meet stringent regulatory requirement to record communications with customers, and all without the cost and complexity usually associated with enterprise compliance.   These solutions will help us as we continue to grow, helping us to remain distinct by resolving problems quickly, ensuring SLA compliance and identifying patterns in traffic that improve network planning and help Europe’s most innovative companies remain dynamic, agile and adaptable.  

We started out as two brothers in a basement, and now we’re one of the fastest-growing B2B telecom operators in Europe with highly customized communications solutions tailored to the needs...

5G

3GPP Rel-16 gets CSPs closer to industrial IoT, automotive & URLLC use cases

The second set of specs will improve performance, reliability and time-sensitive networking for IoT and 5G services. Face-to-face meetings have been a mainstay of developing new wireless technologies, specifications and standards, so I’d like to commend 3GPP for finding alternate ways of working in order to complete release 16 in July despite the current disruption to normal processes. This is a milestone that will trigger new use cases in automotive and industrial IoT and URLLC, as well as support operations in unlicensed bands so that opportunities can be explored even in places where licensed spectrum is not an option. The 5G New Radio (NR) enhancements in 3GPP’s second set of specs will enable automation in factory settings and open the door to vehicle-to-everything (V2X) for transportation safety and mobility benefits. With 5G NR replacing Ethernet, we can have performance, reliability and time-sensitive networking for a wide range of cellular devices and services. LTE-M (LTE- Machine Type Communication, mMTC), NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT) and sensors will boost IoT and 5G momentum in transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and other industries. Release 16 improvements to positioning, power consumption and radio links will help industries looking to improve telematics, fleet management, shipping and logistics. For communications service providers, the release should be viewed through the lens of B2X and B2B2X models (B2B2C, business-to-everyone), plus the new vertical relationships that can be forged either directly or through their enterprise customers. Important will be the modularity of 3GPP’s 5G service-based architecture (SBA), with network functions and interfaces that will help CSPs assemble components from various sources as they create applications for different verticals. The 3GPP SBA has been important in guiding the creation of our cloud-native 5G core, which is designed to help operators build a robust SBA for more flexible development of new services and use cases, such as eMBB and uRLLC, mobile Internet of Things (mIoT) and user equipment (UE) polices.  As these use cases evolve, our implementations and industry expertise will be something service providers can tap as they develop app-specific networks/”slices” for industrial manufacturing, construction and engineering, and automotive. Additionally, our cloud, database and data management acumen guarantee our solutions can manage 5G services and the enormous amounts of usage and behavior data they will generate as billions of devices and sensors come online. To learn more about 3GPP adoption of Service Based Architecture (SBA) and Oracle’s  engagement with 3GPP (i.e., building our modern network-grade architecture around 3GPP advanced data charging and policy integration), get our 5G Core Cloud Solution brief and “Monetizing 5G” whitepaper.  Also, feel free to contact us.  

The second set of specs will improve performance, reliability and time-sensitive networking for IoT and 5G services. Face-to-face meetings have been a mainstay of developing new wireless technologies,...

SD-WAN

Ok Tedi and Yell IT leverage Oracle SD-WAN to unearth the power of remote workforce

Even in the toughest of locations, it's possible to have consistent application performance and 99.999% uptime Essential industries including mining moved swiftly in responding to mandates for socially distanced operations during the COVID-19 crisis. For Yell IT and Oracle customer Ok Tedi, the challenge was to rapidly double the number of remote workers that would keep existing and pending operations in motion throughout its copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG). This tremendous undertaking for the company’s 5,000 employees and contractors would ensure mission-critical communications and consistent application performance over remote access. To meet those demands, Ok Tedi evolved away from aging satellite and copper-based infrastructure toward cloud and managed IT services that would improve network throughput and application performance. The company needed to securely deliver projects including a future IoT initiative faster, cheaper and with improved performance. With those goals in mind, Ok Tedi turned to Yell IT, whose deployment of Oracle’s SD-WAN vastly expanded network throughput over Ok Tedi’s existing 03b satellite connections. The resulting implementation delivers consistent application performance and 99.999% uptime to remote workers managing mining operations and production. A unique Oracle SD-WAN technical capability is behind this project’s success. The Oracle solution translates Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) WAN traffic to connectionless User Datagram Protocol (UDP) sessions before uplink transmission. This TCP-to-UDP conversion uniquely improves network speeds over slow satellite connections, and was one of the main reasons Yell IT recommended Oracle. This same SD-WAN software also reroutes congested network application traffic using an “application fluency” approach, continuously monitoring WAN conditions and measuring cloud application performance for automatic adjustments that avoid congestion and deliver the best user experience possible, even during business and health crises. With this SD-WAN deployment, Yell IT ensures Ok Tedi’s business continuity through auto-recovery/convergence resolution of network latency, which is based on sub-second inspection of network paths by Oracle SD-WAN intelligence. This proven technology, connects the world’s most critical organizations, maintaining security and business operations even in the toughest environments. In the case of OK Tedi, there is business continuity even with constant monsoonal weather at the mine site and near decade-old satellite infrastructure. OK Tedi Mining — without skipping a beat — effortlessly handled the unprecedented surge in remote working, while sustaining secure, constant operations. To learn more about Oracle Communications and the delivery of failsafe SD-WANs, feel free to contact us. Also read these SD-WAN assets for more information: •    Article: Oracle’s SD-WAN simplifies the transition to multi-cloud offerings •    Podcast: Why Application Fluency Keeps Remote Users Working •    Study: Calculation the ROI of SD-WAN Read other SD-WAN blogs here, and subscribe today!  

Even in the toughest of locations, it's possible to have consistent application performance and 99.999% uptime Essential industries including mining moved swiftly in responding to mandates for socially...

5G

Reviving focus on innovation to ignite growth

Cloud and SaaS-based solutions can help organizations reimagine customer and user experiences I was struck by a recent insight piece by McKinsey that showed executives who considered innovation a top priority pre-crisis, rate it as much less important today. This was particularly true of respondents in the Communications industry, probably because of the exigent need to meet the demands of both critical industries like emergency services and health care, as well as the day-to-day communications needs of businesses and individuals struggling to stay connected and productive while sheltering in place and social distancing around the globe. A half year into this “new reality,” we must regain our focus on innovation to ignite new growth. With the fundamental changes taking place around the world, Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will democratize technology, resources and capabilities so that all organizations will be able to reimagine their customer and user experiences. The possible 10 GB/s speeds of 5G will bring exponential gains in capacity, connections and device connectivity, as well as greater customization and personalization through automation, mobility, collaboration, and analytics. The IoT will transform not only business, industries, education, and governments, but the human condition—for the greater good—if we truly innovate and think about what’s possible with autonomous, VR/AR/MR, wearables, smart cities and so much more. The challenge for our CSP customers is building out networks so they perform better without incurring crushing overhead costs. Now more than ever, they need suppliers and partners with the expertise and resources to maintain the performance and reliability of networks with immediate insight into problems and rapid fixes. The multi-vendor world in which they operate no longer has to result in costly integration. With SaaS, the operational constraints and overhead of integration can give way to multi-vendor network services and agile delivery of services. With cloud native, there can be faster software development and more resilient, scalable and manageable applications.   Oracle Communications is committed to partnering for tomorrow and for best-of-breed deployments enabled by cloud- and SaaS-based 5G and IoT. Contact us to find out what we are doing with cloud-based/SaaS-based solutions and see how we can help you build out open, interoperable and secure networks that support a diverse supply chain critical to the market success of 5G.  

Cloud and SaaS-based solutions can help organizations reimagine customer and user experiences I was struck by a recent insight piece by McKinsey that showed executives who considered innovation a top...

Monetization/Orchestration

How to make 5G network slicing a ‘game changer’

As 5G technology rollout and adoption creates new consumer and business services, network slicing will become increasingly vital. In my prior blog, I talked of how slicing will help communications service providers (CSPs) deliver innovative new services to their customers in various ways. Some will be more complex and long-lived opportunities, as with slices supporting B2B2X bandwidth-intensive and QoS-sensitive Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) use cases (e.g., telesurgery). Other opportunities may be short-lived, such as network slices quickly deployed to support an emergency response or those provided for fans to watch a sporting event using VR technology from the comfort of home. In either case, network slicing plays to the strength of CSPs given their network roots and domain familiarity.  Slices can leverage technologies CSPs already know well, such as VPN and DWDM services.   Despite its potential, network slicing comes with a degree of complexity in that effective management will be needed to rein in the increasing number of instances— each of which will have its own service configuration and lifecycle to manage. There are three distinct slice management roles critical to effective slice management: Communication Service Management Function (CSMF), responsible for converting the incoming Service request into a Network Slice request; Network Slice Management Function (NSMF), responsible for the design and lifecycle of the slice and its subnets (i.e., child slices) based on a service profile of the network slice that describes key characteristics such as bandwidth, latency, and geographic regions; Network Slice Subnet Management Function (NSSMF), responsible for the design and lifecycle of network slice subnets for RAN, Transport, and Core networks. These three slice management functions can exist as part of an overall service fulfillment and network resource management solution. For example, Oracle’s Service and Network Orchestration (SNO) solution orchestrates the entire service order, which includes the communications service management function (CSMF), the entity that provisions the slice and the services delivered via the slice. As illustrated above, the CSMF converts incoming service requests into a network slice request by collaborating with the network slice management function (NSMF). The NSMF designs the slice as a set of slice subnets, and to complete the value chain, also includes an NSS management function (NSSMF) that manages the entire lifecycle of the slice subnets.These subnets are required to provide the end-to-end service across the radio, transport and core networks. CSPs will need sophisticated capabilities and tools like these in order to accelerate time-to-revenue. With automated slice design and service delivery they can reap the full rewards of network slicing. To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar “The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G"; our new eBook “Modernizing CSP Back-Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control” and video “Unlock the business value of 5G and IoT.”   Subscribe here for future blogs!

As 5G technology rollout and adoption creates new consumer and business services, network slicing will become increasingly vital. In my prior blog, I talked of how slicing will help communications...

Security

Innovation in real-time communications security

Real-time communications are increasingly critical for employee collaboration and customer engagement, but linking customers, suppliers and partners through ever-expanding channels exposes organizations to bad actors like organized crime, nation-states, disgruntled employees and hackers. The exploitation of communications infrastructure, stolen data and phony calls add up. In fact, telephony fraud costs enterprises as much as $31 billion annually, with 45 percent experiencing three or more attacks in a year. Cybersecurity compromises can cost large organizations an average of $395,000 per incident, with the majority of fraud events tracing back to contact centers (61 percent). To help enterprises combat these risks, Oracle Communications has combined the power of its Oracle Enterprise Session Border Controller and sophisticated Policy capabilities with the advanced analytics, AI/ML and robust Security features of Oracle Cloud. Oracle Communications Security Shield Cloud  (OCSS) erects a hardened boundary around networks to ensure every call is protected. As a SaaS offering, OCSS Cloud gives customers the ability to customize their risk tolerance on a per-call basis. It also enables an enterprise to focus its domain expertise on leveraging the always-on security for communications provided by OCSS, without needing to consume precious resources on the management and operation of the solution itself. OCSS allows configuration of call mitigation according to an individual risk assessment and score, with policy-based enforcement that enables it to be configured according to what the enterprise determines as an unacceptable risk score. This ability to tailor the solution to different risk perspectives means an enterprise can pay attention to the areas most important to them, such as: blocking calls during call setup; redirecting calls to investigators or call recording servers for smarter investigations; or immediately terminating malicious calls; among other options. OCSS delivers fully automated real-time time risk mitigation, which combined with a 360° view of telephony traffic and risks protects IT security staff from “alert fatigue,” optimizing their time, reducing operational risks and protecting customer experience and brand loyalty. Advanced AI/ML analyzes every call to identify fraudulent activity and malicious behavior, which the Oracle Enterprise Session Border Controller then blocks, redirects or terminates depending on predetermined actions. For CIOs and IT organizations evaluating the link between their business and digital security risk, OCSS offers a unique solution based on risk-guided policy actions that automatically tailor call handling and resolution according to their individual risk perspectives. Check out our OCCS solution brief and infographic, and contact us for a demo.    

Real-time communications are increasingly critical for employee collaboration and customer engagement, but linking customers, suppliers and partners through ever-expanding channels...

Digital Experience

Digital experience: ‘being digital’ is not enough

There’s no doubt carriers sit on a veritable treasure trove of customer data but figuring out which data is actionable to unlock value is where true ‘digitization’ starts to differentiate itself from just “being digital.” It’s the difference between just putting a digital version of a bill online or really diving into a customer’s usage in an online channel to tailor an offer that provides real value. As I wrote previously, COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to digitization to meet the demands for remote working, telemedicine, emergency services and the very human need to connect to socially distanced family and friends. Self-installs to keep technicians out of people’s homes, or expanding online bill pays have also led to a new way of thinking. In a recent TM Forum “Hard Talk” debate, we asked the audience whether telcos can deliver a valuable digital experience (DX) to consumers—on the customer’s terms, in a manner that is relevant and meaningful to the customer. We discussed whether CSPs can leverage what they’ve accomplished recently to possibly accelerate transformation to DX. By the end of the debate it was determined that more needs to be done. Digitization should really be about creating an experience that will drive customers to a digital app and to an interaction that will deliver the value of resolving an issue faster or getting a reward otherwise unavailable through non-digital channels. This means the customer experience can no longer be “stovepiped” in legacy systems that have become ’baggage’ to carriers competing against each other and against new entrants. More established players, which traditionally lacked the type of customer interaction prevalent in banking, retail and other industries, will have to increasingly work to create simplified, contextual, easy-to-understand digital experiences. This is very possible in our increasingly automated, mobile industry, but to succeed, they will need robust ecosystems and forethought about the ways in which people, processes, devices and things interconnect and affect one another. It’s no longer enough to just get the customer to download a mobile app to check data or credit. It’s important to really engage customers in a meaningful way, with a proactive DX that opens the door to cross selling and upselling, as well as reducing overall retail footprints and costs. It has to become a big enough priority that investments are made not only for cost reduction, but also to create a fantastic user experience in which customers can fulfill and manage service automatically. Over the next few years, the industry will make strides in going digital, and we are striving to help by working with customers to leverage TM Forum’s Open Digital Architecture and  including open APIs in our OSS as an early step to enable an omni-channel, compelling customer experience. To learn more, watch a replay of the debate here and check out Oracle Digital Experience for Communications and our new eBook “Modernizing CSP Back Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control.” Feel free to contact us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.  

There’s no doubt carriers sit on a veritable treasure trove of customer data but figuring out which data is actionable to unlock value is where true ‘digitization’ starts to differentiate itself from...

Orchestration

Open APIs and standards drive agile service and network orchestration

In a recent blog post by Jason Rutherford, he looked at how automation and process integration in the back office is contributing to service providers remaining fully functional, responsive, and available 24x7 during these times of remote operations. Going forward, agility and adaptability will be critical to both service providers and their enterprise customers as they respond to changing conditions globally. That will require the utmost flexibility in OSS/BSS to accommodate the spikes and drops in network traffic, data, roaming, and remote capabilities, while also maintaining a consistent customer experience. The ability to stand up virtual call centers on demand, or to quickly change remote and/or mobile access to apps and web sites, as well as offers and tiers of service, will require a digitized back office that is based on open APIs. Open APIs bring interoperability and seamless end-to-end management of complex digital services. For that reason, we recently obtained TM Forum certification for two open APIs in our Service and Network Orchestration (SNO) solution (part of Oracle 5G Now). This will help service providers manage resource and service inventory across traditional, 5G, IoT and digital services, responding to changing demands for access and speed in business and consumer services. By incorporating open APIs —TMF638 for service inventory management and TMF639 for resource inventory management —service providers will more readily manage the full lifecycle of customer services and resources across hybrid virtual/physical networks, which includes: customer orders across multiple billing and fulfillment stacks B2B and B2C orders for services enabled by mobile and fixed networks inventory of record and network buildouts for all technologies These open APIs will be increasingly important to the agility and scale required to fulfill and manage services, and they will ensure a consistent experience-driven customer engagement remains intact, even if offers, tiers of service, and billing must suddenly change. This is particularly true in the area of “intelligent inventory,” which fuels modern-day activation, fulfillment and orchestration, providing a unified view of customer services and all associated resources. The Oracle Communications Unified Inventory Management (UIM) lies at the heart of our SNO solution and because it is a vendor-agnostic, API-based architecture—built on TM Forum's Information Framework (SID)—it can work cooperatively with existing inventory systems or replace them to support complex inventory-related business processes and technologies. That’s true across both physical resources (racks, shelves, cards, ports, and connectors) and logical resources (network addresses, and telephone numbers), offering service providers flexible deployment and integration options. It also ensures connectivity among an ever-expanding web of devices and locations, as well as robust modeling of networks and topology in times of fluctuating capacity needs. Oracle continues to be a member of TM Forum to ensure we continue to advance open APIs, industry best practices and standards. To learn more about modernizing to further essential apps and services, download the eBook, Modernizing CSP Back-Office Operations with Agility, Cost and Control, and watch TM Forum’s Hard Talk: Digital experiences are the new normal. Can telcos deliver?  

In a recent blog post by Jason Rutherford, he looked at how automation and process integration in the back office is contributing to service providers remaining fully functional, responsive, and...

SD-WAN

SD-WAN Reduces Cloud Risk Now and in the Future

In my previous blog, I highlighted five SD-WAN multicloud challenges to consider when leveraging multiple cloud providers. The need to efficiently manage and navigate traffic to and from the cloud, as well as between clouds, has become essential during the current situation. With companies accessing an average of five clouds and spending more than $1.2M on cloud services, according to Flexera, many have accelerated their cloud deployments to accommodate all the employees who are now working from home. IT heads are under immense pressure to have extensive visibility into the networks they must troubleshoot and manage, while delivering on the expectations of remote workers and customers. The burden on IT was significant before now, but with so many working from home this ascends to an entirely new level. Productivity and responsiveness have never been more dependent on the WAN infrastructure than in a time of crisis. Whether a company is connecting many remote locations or just a few with bandwidth constraints, the need is the same: high availability and predictable quality of experience (QoE) and this need to now extend to people’s homes as “good enough” is no longer good enough. Wherever fast, reliable networks are demanded for critical and real-time applications, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are needed to manage the complexity of hybrid and multicloud environments. SD-WANs securely and reliably direct traffic to cloud-based apps by automatically adapting to changing network conditions. Unlike traditional WAN deployments involving costly multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits, a company has flexibility in determining how a SD-WAN is deployed—such as the physical edge, the virtual edge, or in the cloud. But not all SD-WANs offer businesses comparable performance, as some are more basic, while others are more sophisticated. Businesses that want to reduce cloud risk during the crisis should look for these “must-haves” when choosing the right SD-WAN: Flexibility to support all transport types. To intelligently support a distributed network/cloud architecture, an SD-WAN deployed for hybrid and multicloud environments must perform over MPLS, broadband, cellular, satellite, or any other transport. This is especially critical for nationwide and global companies that expect a consistent experience, whether connecting urban New York to rural Arkansas or faraway London. All apps have to perform consistently, and user experiences have to be uniform, regardless of location or geography. Failsafe-level performance. The most basic SD-WAN offerings do not include the “failsafe” capabilities that truly improve network reliability and application performance and predictability. Failsafe means both non-real-time applications (like email) and real-time apps (like UC and videoconferencing) work as well as, and often better than, they would on a private MPLS WAN—even if the SD-WAN is built on the public Internet or a hybrid MPLS + internet. Superior QoE. Performance relies on four key pillars: application fluency, security, failsafe network automation and multicloud capabilities. The result should be both site-to-site and site-to-cloud application access that goes beyond just reliable access with exceptional connections that deliver a premium customer experience. Reduced overhead via Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP). Improve visibility through centralized controls that allow administrators to set high-level policies and eliminate the need for IT to fiddle with difficult thresholds that determine when sessions are steered toward different network paths—and back. If a SD-WAN meets all the above criteria, there is one more important aspect to consider: the solution must be easy to deploy in multicloud environments. When SD-WAN vendors and cloud service providers have strong partnerships, businesses can more easily manage a complex blend of multicloud resources. That’s one less pain point for IT leaders, who are already dealing with many challenges during these troubled times. To find out how the right solution can ensure a risk-free multicloud migration, read the Economist Intelligence Unit report and download this new whitepaper.   Check out other SD-WAN blogs here and subscribe today!    

In my previous blog, I highlighted five SD-WAN multicloud challenges to consider when leveraging multiple cloud providers. The need to efficiently manage and navigate traffic to and from the cloud, as...

5G

Turning 5G on its head: consume cloud resources as-a-service

As carriers around the world begin to roll out 5G, much of the attention is focused on the RAN, but it’s really the new 5G core technology that will unleash the potential of network slicing and new revenue streams from the network. If we think about 5G from the perspective of the core, we start to see how service providers can consume some cloud resources as OpEx rather than CapEx. You can imagine the scale, performance, security and economics of the cloud taking shape, with CSPs recouping network costs while network infrastructure services are consumed, and, recouping network infrastructure costs as applications services are provided.  The core network in 5G follows a service-based architecture (SBA), applying IT network technologies to mobile services. This will empower operators to replicate the success of IT webscale models — already proven to be agile, cost-effective and customer-oriented. There will be opportunities to innovate and monetize new services (and all while realizing economies of scale). Operators will leverage IT cloud-based technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to better understand their customers, to anticipate customer needs and to personalize services with unprecedented speed and efficiency. With the 5G core will also come agile processes that will improve automation and lead to efficiency gains such as: •    Continuous delivery of software •    Automated testing/continuous deployment •    Canary releases •    Blue/Green deployments •    End-to-end service orchestration •    Dynamic slice management The evolution of these processes will ultimately lead to one-click procurement of networks, deployed as-a-service, for specific use cases and market segments. While most of the ecosystem moves to a pay-as-you-go model, the initial cost burden of the network core buildout will shift from the telco to the cloud provider. And as future network services and features are likewise delivered by the 5G network as-a-service, telcos will have many new services and more flexibility in how to deliver and monetize them in emerging business models. Go here to learn more about Oracle Communications’ take on 5G, and be sure to check out my other blogs. Subscribe today!      

As carriers around the world begin to roll out 5G, much of the attention is focused on the RAN, but it’s really the new 5G core technology that will unleash the potential of network slicing and new...

SD-WAN

Getting the most out of networks and apps for remote workforces

Enterprises need to fully harness their networks and applications as they support remote workforces around the world today. Multicloud environments offer the broadest visibility and allow enterprises to piece together different combinations of services from different clouds. This was something businesses were looking at previously but the massive wave of work from home has pushed organizations over the multi-cloud fence. The struggle is how to improve performance and reliability. By implementing a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), enterprises can interconnect workloads from multiple cloud environments with the security and performance traditionally expected only in their own data centers. Even under normal circumstances, enterprises require flexibility in the distribution of workloads without compromising security, reliability, or performance. Except now, enterprises are facing real scenarios of having to scale up practically overnight to accommodate remote workers. But as many piece together different combinations of services from different clouds, they are building somewhat unwieldy multicloud environments comprised of software-as-a-service (SaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud offerings, or mixes of public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments. Enterprises that want to get the most out of their networks and apps for greater quality of experience (QoE) have to embrace multicloud environments that support a broader spectrum of workloads now and in the future. Successfully migrating to multicloud requires a seamless blend of private and multiple public clouds, as well as a SD-WAN to securely and reliably direct traffic to cloud-based apps. An existing WAN can evolve to make the move to cloud easier and cheaper, and without a “forklift upgrade.” Enterprises have several options. For example, Oracle SD-WAN can be deployed in overlay mode with an existing WAN. So, a company with an extensive remote workforce can choose a carrier-agnostic SD-WAN, which can be deployed per location as a physical appliance, virtually or directly, in the cloud. Oracle SD-WAN is built with that flexibility in mind. Together with Oracle SD-WAN Aware, a centralized management system that provides analytics for Oracle SD-WAN, enterprises can have a good handle on app performance. A recent analyst report found that demand accelerated the shift to SD-WANs and cloud networking. In fact, 17 percent of WAN traffic is now “outside-outside,” meaning it’s connecting a source outside the enterprise to another outside source. More than half of companies deploying SD-WANs are using them to connect clouds to each other (outside-outside traffic), as well as data centers to clouds. With so many employees working work-from-home, these connections will continue to grow. As multicloud becomes the architecture of choice, there are several best practices enterprises should follow: • Visibility and control over cloud services. Provisioning and operations need to avoid the risks of “shadow IT,” created when procuring SaaS outside the IT organizations and storing data in unsanctioned locations. A cloud view of where and how traffic travels—from cloud to ground or within the cloud—will require analytics and visibility into how cloud services are used, by whom and at what performance level; • Manage process and device sprawl. As dynamic cloud services move across hosts, distributed management over multisite and multinetwork infrastructure will rein in the chaos that can come with thousands of devices and associated gateways, not to mention increased troubleshooting via patches, updates, and backups; • Foster control and reduce operational overhead. Zero-touch provisioning and centralized control, whether in the cloud or on-premise, will ensure no additional skill sets or resources are needed. Cloud resources are provisioned when coordinating between physical and virtualized networks; • Simplify licensing and maintenance. Cloud introduces a per-use licensing model—an improvement over traditional, inflexible software licensing, but still viewed with some trepidation by those who want the predictability of subscription or perpetual license models. Transitioning to the cloud helps eliminate software maintenance issues, as SaaS, IaaS, and other subscription models offer more economic and practical ways to accommodate usage and volume fluctuations during peak and off-peak periods; • Reduce hardware burden. Companies often seek cost-effective ways to offer multiple services to multiple tenants on few hardware appliances. That can be accomplished with multi-tenanted approaches and virtualization. Multi-tenancy provides the necessary protection to individual clients, while virtualization provides the flexibility to run on any platform or more than one service on the same platform. The current reality has brought to light the importance of managing, securing, and scaling networks. Embracing a multicloud approach will allow companies to cater to elastic business needs. To learn more, please read my White Paper on how to choose the right SD-WAN for your business and read our other SD-WAN blogs.  

Enterprises need to fully harness their networks and applications as they support remote workforces around the world today. Multicloud environments offer the broadest visibility and allow enterprises...

Security

Back-to-basics security during the not-so-basic IoT era

In this period of social distancing, our “smart” connected IoT devices are helping us in ways we never imagined. For example, voice assistants now help people navigate guidelines from vetted sources to assess COVID risk and symptoms, and telehealth apps and triage chatbots are further guiding evaluations. In a growing effort to keep surfaces clean and hands-free, there has been a boon to smart home voice control of things we now look at as “surfaces”: TV remotes, light switches, thermostats, door locks, security cameras, TVs, DVRs, A/C/heating units, and refrigerators. This has created a complex web of connectivity among IoT devices labeled “smart” despite their security and privacy vulnerabilities. We should heed FBI warnings and articles about drive-by hacking of “things,” and think about the data entry points we create— not only for hackers, but manufacturers, app developers and anyone who might want to eavesdrop and violate the sanctuary of our homes during these times of crisis. The issue extends to healthcare and other industries implementing the IoT for efficiencies. For example, healthcare devices have been found to be more vulnerable now than ever. Gartner estimates there will be about 25 billion connected things by 2021. As IoT “things” get coopted into botnets, bad actors can prey on embedded electronics, opening paths of entry for connected-appliance cyberattacks. They infiltrate “simple” devices without detection and gain access to the more important smart phones and computer networks they know connect to more coveted networks and devices. During our time of socially distanced work and personal life, it’s important that we all get “back to basics,” slowing down to ask the logical questions about security, such as: •    What problem does adding an IP address ‘here’ possibly open up? •    What malware and other vulnerabilities may my smart devices introduce to shared networks? •    As IoT is introduced to services, applications or products, what security fixes can go in at the same rate? Smart capabilities don’t have to lead to not-so-smart decisions at home as our personal and professional lives intersect. We just need to check that the things we use are designed to do what they are supposed to, plus incorporate the security we as customers and end users deserve. There’s no such thing as a “benign” environment, so we must all think every step of the way about how what we are using or doing opens the door to criminals that want to infiltrate, compromise and break things. While IT can design things with these criminals in mind, it’s also up to all of us to remember that the answer to technology-induced risk is not always “more technology,” but rather the basics of knowing the risks and vulnerabilities we potentially introduce when connecting in the IoT-driven world. Our basic responsibilities aren’t so basic anymore. Be sure to read our other security-related blogs here and also learn about 5G next-gen core security.  

In this period of social distancing, our “smart” connected IoT devices are helping us in ways we never imagined. For example, voice assistants now help people navigate guidelines from vetted sources...

SD-WAN

How SD-WAN is helping IT manage a socially distanced workforce

Stay-at-home mandates across the U.S. have led to an explosion of remote workers increasingly dependent on real-time applications. As a result, the wide area network (WAN) has become all the more important to IT departments managing a workforce that is fanning out into many disparate points. Now more than ever, the unpredictable necessitates the predictable in terms of reliable app performance and continuity of business-critical applications. To minimize manual intervention, IT leaders are emphasizing the automatic delivery of low-latency and high-reliability applications, leveraging network architecture that not only detects and fixes errors with sub-second latency, but that also recognizes application performance in real-time. They have in many cases stepped up their game with “app aware” networks that define—through policy and constant measuring and monitoring of networks—where applications send traffic. For example, priority traffic versus non-priority, as in choosing MPLS for critical voice versus public Internet for email or text.  Some organizations have taken the next step in moving toward “app fluent” SD-WANs that continuously monitor WAN conditions and instruct networks on how to automatically adjust to new traffic patterns. Dynamic and fluid controls seamlessly manage data and customer applications, avoiding the congestion caused by the unprecedented levels of video conferencing and streaming currently taking place. The ability to reroute traffic and to rebalance networks in milliseconds is helping these organizations to optimize application performance, even amid the new and unprecedented ways in which we are all working. By continuously monitoring WAN conditions and automatically controlling traffic flows from the edge of networks, enterprises can avoid massive slowdowns. With sub-second decisions about the optimal paths for data packets —based on the best route, the application’s policy, the state of the network, and the type of data being transmitted—it becomes possible to provide reliable and continuous delivery of critical applications. As work-at-home orders evolve, it will be interesting to see how today’s automation efforts will carry over, possibly enabling large chunks of the population to work remotely even after the crisis ends.   If you have questions about how Oracle Communications can help keep your network running smoothly contact us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com. Subscribe here for future SD-WAN blogs.  

Stay-at-home mandates across the U.S. have led to an explosion of remote workers increasingly dependent on real-time applications. As a result, the wide area network (WAN) has become all the...

COVID-19

The Global Comms Industry Fosters Human Connections When Needed Most

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are many more examples of how industry leaders continue opening new channels—and pushing the boundaries of existing networks—for extraordinary levels of human connection when they are needed most. I am inspired to see so many examples of expanded data and premium service access being offered, at no charge, to help billions of people connect to each other and to critical information. The industry is helping us all be more productive, whether for business or educational purposes. And global, regional and smaller telcos have worked relentlessly to find solutions around challenging infrastructure limitations. While by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few examples of operators who have risen to the current challenge: United States: As outlined in the ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge, most operators will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers. They’ll waive late fees incurred by residential or small business customers, and open up Wi-Fi hotspots free of charge. Additionally: Verizon: With a commitment of $45 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits, Verizon is helping them remain active during the crisis. Nurses on the front lines and teachers who are keeping students engaged will join military and first responders in benefiting from up to $40 off when combining Verizon unlimited wireless and FiOS internet plans. T-Mobile: To ensure its network continues to perform for all customers, the company announced agreements with multiple spectrum holders to light up an additional 600 MHz spectrum for 60 days. This expands network capacity for customers across the country. Additionally, it will expand roaming access for Sprint customers to use the T-Mobile network and it will offer more flexible payment arrangements for customers who need more time to pay their bills. AT&T: In addition to offering bonuses to frontline employees, the operator is offering a $15 plan with 2 GB of data and unlimited talk and text, as well as an automatic 10GB per month of additional data for all phone plans. European Operators: As reported, operators are providing increased voice and data usage increases at no cost and pushing out COVID-19 information, among other meaningful measures, such as: Telecom Italia (TIM): By teaming up with Google G-Suite and collaboration platform WeSchool, TIM is responding to a call from the Ministry of Education to boost access to e-learning tools. Telefonica: At no charge, Telefonica will increase all quadplay Fusion and Movistar mobile plans by an additional 30GB per month until end of May. It will also offer more children’s programming and sporting events to TV customers’ entertainment packages, at no cost. Telefonica Group: Its Spanish business unit announced it will add 30 GB of mobile data to all Fusion and Movistar convergence customers for the next two months. Vodafone UK: NHS workers who are existing customers will be given 30 days free unlimited mobile data, affecting approximately 125,000 NHS staff. That’s in addition to a 30-day unlimited data offer to 500,000 vulnerable customers, and additional capacity that will support the growing voice and data usage in European markets. The company also is working with government agencies to help them deliver targeted text messaging. Virgin Media: Postpaid customers are being offered unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers. Additionally, Virgin Media is offering a free 10 GB data boost for the month, while removing data caps on legacy broadband products. LATAM operators: Many operators, like Claro, Oi, Tim e Vivo, opened TV channels for all customers, along with free access to news channels with information on COVID-19. Others like Seaborn and Edge Uno are offering free Internet connectivity across their respective Americas networks to non-profit/not-for-profit organizations, educational programs, state and municipal governments, and public health. TIM Brasil: In partnering with Rio de Janeiro’s city hall for data analysis, the company will enable authorities to track displacement and concentration of people in areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Telefonica Brasil: Leveraging Big Data and AI, the operator is helping authorities slow the spread of the virus in Sao Paulo state by detecting trends in aggregated cellphone data; Oi: Exemptions are being given to all corporate customers for Oi Smart Office 4.0 to offer relief during the crisis. MEA Operators: Telecom operators in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) are responding to the pandemic crisis by supporting governments, businesses, individuals and households. For example: Etisalat: Granted businesses three months of free access to its online collaboration platform, Etisalat CloudTalk Meeting, in addition to providing free mobile data allowances to households without fixed Internet connectivity. It has also launched its ‘Business Edge’ platform for small and medium-sized enterprises. STC: Announced zero-rated browsing for selected educational platforms and the temporary suspension of fees for small and mid-sized enterprises that wish to suspend their services by April 30. Ooredoo: Offered data allowances for 5G customers and data top-ups for prepaid customers, doubling internet speeds for multi-play fiber customers, free access to premium content on its IPTV service, and boosting internet access speeds for all academic and educational entities for free. APAC Operators: Major Chinese carriers—China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom—worked to provide equipment and 5G services to hospitals in Wuhan, and 5G-enabled remote video diagnostic centers to help medical staff with remote, online consultations. Telstra: Business customers are getting additional data for free, and pensioners are getting unlimited standard home phone calls for free. The data will expire after 30 days but customers can apply for another 25GB of data up until end of June. SK Telecom: Free of charge, the company is providing Geovision big data-based real-time floating population analysis service to help police stop the spread of the virus. NTT Docomo Japan: With drive-through testing sites at its headquarters, removal of data caps, unlimited data, and bill payment relief, NTT is helping mitigate the effects of the epidemic. We are proud of operators’ efforts worldwide to keep people connected during these trying times. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

Recently I wrote about the role Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are playing globally to connect people in critical ways through wide-ranging communications and digital services. There are...

COVID-19

Meeting the Need for Increased Connectivity in These Trying Times

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China Telecom, Comcast, Oi, Shaw, SaskTel, Verizon, Vodafone and others have risen to the challenge by supporting millions of people as they log in remotely for work, telemedicine, emergency services and the all-important connections to socially distanced family and friends. As a result of efforts to modernize mission-critical operations in their back offices, many CSPs are seeing first hand that automation and process integration have helped to readily engage customers with an online experience that is real-time responsive, available 24x7 and fully functional. They are supporting requests without human intervention in these times of social distancing. It’s great to see the degree to which remote vs. in-person operations are being carried out, for example, intuitive customer self-installation processes or remote trouble shooting and resolution of technical issues that eliminate the need for physical proximity of customers and technicians.   With so many businesses and families changing their services, pricing and throughput thresholds in their efforts to work and socialize from home, the modernized back office and its connection to digital channels has taken on a greater importance. Carriers with automated and integrated OSS/BSS can offer flexible rates and tiers, as well as new products and offers for not only existing customers, but people who need crisis-based offers for commerce and mobile access to important apps and web sites. They are also accommodating B2B needs for highly configured “special orders.” The key is low-latency interactions supported through intelligent activation, fulfillment and orchestration, as well as billing and customer care for continuous availability and real-time interactions. An integrated approach to transforming CX and automating the back-office required that operators identify and automate workflows that today help them rapidly reconfigure the network and accommodate new patterns in gaming, streaming and video conferencing activity. This helps them in their pledges to boost data allowances and expand channel coverage, without raising prices and without pursuing payment in cases involving businesses or individuals hard hit by the crisis. By fulfilling and managing services automatically, at scale and with agility, and by offering compelling, experience-driven customer engagement even in these toughest of times, operators around the world are differentiating their brands, inspiring customers and driving what will be sustainable future loyalty. In these challenging times, Oracle Communications is here to help in any way we can. Feel free to contact me on LinkedIn or oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com.

The ongoing efforts to keep people safe and informed have revealed how interconnected we all are, even during this time of social distancing. Data, video and voice service providers such as AT&T, China...

Security

New Steps to Protect Consumers, Businesses from Spoofed Robocalls During Critical Times

Robocalling is a scourge, with the newest Robocall Index showing an astounding 4.8 billion robocalls placed in the last year. In the current environment, the problem is even more insidious as fraudsters are capitalizing on people’s fears with hoax text messages and scams for fake testing kits, non-existent protective equipment, miracle cures and misleading insurance offers. Warnings have been issued to consumers by the FCC, Federal Trade Association and World Health Organization, as well as the Attorneys General in most states, but more aggressive steps are needed. In an effort to encourage voice providers to take action, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week mandated that they implement SHAKEN/STIR caller ID authentication to protect consumers against malicious caller ID “spoofing.” This builds on the FCC’s declaration last summer that American operators implement caller ID authentication frameworks to block illegal and unwanted calls before they reach people’s phones. Additionally, Congress and the President of the United States in late December passed the TRACED ACT so that the FCC and law enforcement can more aggressively pursue scammers. Adhering to this mandate could be difficult for hundreds of smaller, resource-constrained players in the market, but not taking action could leave thousands of subscribers unprotected against continued robocalls and fraud. Recognizing the scope and complexity of the problem, Oracle Communications continues to actively participate in the industry organizations focused on defining and advancing SHAKEN/STIR, such as: IETF STIR, which is responsible for defining the STIR technology; ATIS IP-NNI Task Force; Competitive Carriers Association, representing rural operators; and the GSMA Fraud and Security Working Group, whose members are working to combat illegal spoofing. To learn more about Oracle Communications’ approach to enabling carrier-grade authentication and to learn more about our Session Border Controller platform and interfacing with STIR/SHAKEN, contact us at: oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com. Read our other security-related blogs and subscribe for more on related topics!    

Robocalling is a scourge, with the newest Robocall Indexshowing an astounding 4.8 billion robocalls placed in the last year. In the current environment, the problem is even more insidious as...

COVID-19

The Unprecedented Ways We are Now Connecting & Communicating

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue to operate and perform. Where technology in some ways distanced us before, it is now bringing us together:  Friends and families are video conferencing for virtual Get-Togethers, Happy Hours, Coffee Breaks and Game Nights. Pope Francis live streamed from his home last week, as did other churches, temples and mosques. Businesses are hosting frequent live webcasts and video calling sessions to keep work human, and schools are creating virtual classrooms to keep students up to speed. I am amazed at how communications and digital technologies are fostering the type of “distanced socializing” that can make “social distancing” more bearable, and more doable in a time where we must resist our human instinct to be physically close. And so, I thought I’d take this moment to acknowledge what Communications Service Providers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Telefonica, as well as the small and mid-sized operators across the world are doing to help ensure communications infrastructure holds up under the surge in messaging and voice calling on mobile networks, not to mention explosions in gaming and VPNs. Operators around the world have vowed to help residential and small- and medium-sized businesses with free hot spots and in several cases are waiving late fees and service terminations. One of Europe’s hardest hit countries launched a Digital Solidarity Campaign where operators, companies and associations are signing up to offer pro bono services. In the United States, operators have made a collective pledge to “Keep Americans Connected.” They are actively moving capacity, monitoring networks and changing traffic patterns to ensure critical applications perform, especially when it comes to health care and first-responder requirements for ever-more access and data. The same is true around the globe, as Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Vodafone and Chinese operators continue to boost network performance where it is needed the most. These efforts to keep the world connected, and to empower businesses large and small, are helping us remain united and productive in what would otherwise be nearly unbearable circumstances. I’m impressed and humbled by how all the Operators and Enterprises around the world have come together and risen to the challenge in very short order. To learn about our Oracle’s commitment to our customers and partners during the COVID-19 crisis, go here or email us at oraclecomms_ww@oracle.com with any questions you have.  

As people around the world are currently homebound, networks have taken on a whole new level of importance. People now more than ever need to connect virtually, and businesses need to continue...

SD-WAN

Oracle & Oceaneering Partner to Ensure Remote Connectivity on Pacific Drilling’s 'Rig of the Future'

Remote connectivity while working offshore is critical for business continuity and employee productivity. There’s no routine day at the office when you're working miles from shore. Wild weather and other unforeseen obstacles can alter plans quickly, and being able to stay in contact with subject matter experts back on land is critical. Both onshore and offshore offices benefit from failsafe connectivity through reliable wide area network (WAN) connections to maintain operations for connected workers and drilling and support processes. Downtime and interruptions in real-time transmissions of critical data can translate into safety issues and even financial losses. Always-up network coverage is an absolute must. As a premier deepwater drilling company, we wanted to develop the world’s most technologically advanced fleet of connected drillships to boost output and lower operational costs. With a safety- and innovation-first mindset, I set out to explore solutions from dozens of vendors in efforts to build an always-available seafloor-to-boardroom network that would transform Pacific Drilling’s offshore locations into data-centric, reliable workspaces that were driven by integrated networks, operations, and processes. A partnership formed among Oracle and its SD-WAN team and engineering service company Oceaneering.  Oracle's SD-WAN solution provides predictable communications from satellite and LTE cellular networks; Oceaneering's Satellite Agnostic Intelligent Link (SAIL) solution supports high throughput bandwidth globally via satellite constellations and combines with Oceaneering’s EdgeSmart™ application for real-time analytics. This fuses eight WAN connections into one solution, and the combination of SAIL and Oracle’s SD-WAN ensures data is reliably uploaded from anywhere in the world everyday. The consequent failsafe connectivity saves Pacific Drilling thousands of man-hours and millions in costs by automating and communicating photo and video footage from remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), robots, satellites, drones, and voice and OEM data used to manage our daily business operations. Automation through Oceaneering’s integrated SAIL enables cost savings, reduction in personnel onboard through remote operations, and simplified logistics. Integrating Oceaneering’s SAIL to ROVs subsea that carry out important tasks such as survey, inspection, marine construction, well intervention, and more, ensures Pacific Drilling’s vision of operating the “Rigs of the Future.” These remote offices efficiently use “smart stack” methodology and seven-layer network support from software to physical. Powerful security and analytics ensure remote personnel can proactively troubleshoot and operate the highest levels of performance and automation in their fleet of next-generation deepwater drillships. Using Oceaneering’s SAIL and Oracle’s SD-WAN solution, Pacific Drilling’s drillships and corporate offices boast 99.999 percent communications uptime in Houston and Luxembourg, as well as deepwater basins from Brazil to Nigeria. The partnership between the three companies helps Pacific Drilling lower capital expenditures, operational expenses, and integrate previously fragmented IT, OT, security, and data communication. The integration and automation have helped the company discern true value from subsea rig data to reduce maintenance cycles, lower the frequency of manned visits, and increase the profitability of these modern remote offices by 30 percent or more annually. Pacific Drilling’s partnership with Oracle and Oceaneering streamlines this first-of-its-kind level of accountability required for remote operations offshore. Oracle’s SD-WAN platform enables mission-critical uptime anywhere in the world. By proactively investing in the “Rig of the Future,” today, Pacific Drilling’s high-specification drillship fleet has raised the bar for automation and efficiency offshore. Check out our new video and other SD-WAN blogs.  

Remote connectivity while working offshore is critical for business continuity and employee productivity. There’s no routine day at the office when you're working miles from shore. Wild weather...

Community

Five Steps to Help Women Succeed

This Sunday will be International Women's Day, and to celebrate the push for more rights and achievements across the globe, I’m shifting my focus from technology to something more personal, as there is a legacy that we as individuals and as an industry can consider in terms of pay parity, equality and diversity for women. To foster real change, there are five simple things I suggest for anyone reading this today: Embrace the reality of the situation. According to the World Economic Forum’s report “Mind the 100 Year Gap,” a woman would have to be born in the year 2255 to get equal pay at work. While the “role model effect” of political empowerment and the rise of some women to senior roles has had a positive impact on women’s leadership and wages, women’s participation in the wider labor market has stagnated in emerging and developing economies, offsetting gains in OECD countries. North America has made strides in gender parity (currently 72.9 percent), second only to Western Europe’s 76.7 percent. Particularly good is the finding it will take only 12 years to attain gender parity in education, with 40 of the 153 countries ranked in WEF’s report already achieving that goal. I think we can still do better. Avoid being part of the problem/status quo. Accept that Awareness is not easy! We are often not cognizant of our own “unconscious bias.” Naturally, most of us are most comfortable with those who are most “like ourselves,” but we need to be self-aware and examine whether we, at times, inadvertently exclude others who are different. As written in a Forbes article on the benefits of diversity, there is more innovation and creativity when people on a team possess different skills, talents and opinions. It takes constant effort to create change until the change takes hold, and all of us will make mistakes on occasion, but if we all strive to create an environment free of conscious and unconscious bias, we can as a collective get to the ideal sooner rather than later. Take action every day. Do something every day to make a difference – little things add up. For example, the Harvard Business Review noted that men are more likely to get detailed information on career paths and to have career discussions with a mentor or sponsor than are women. That’s why we all can benefit from putting ourselves in others’ shoes and having conversations that can help bring more pay parity, more representation in executive management and clearer career paths. Make everyone’s voice count. Listen. When you are done listening, listen some more. The power of being heard cannot be underestimated. Building a supportive environment is a key step on the way to parity. Open yourself up to questions, and really listen to the answers if you want to help further equality. Provide encouragement. Men apply for a job when they meet 60 percent of qualifications, but women only apply when they meet 100 percent.* That means women feel they have to achieve more to be considered equal to male counterparts.  Help your colleagues recognize their capabilities and talents in the broader context of the market and encourage them to go after stretch roles. Help illuminate the path to leadership for others. I hope we can put these five recommendations into practice, and participate in activities and organizations that educate and create networking opportunities. It’s for this reason I’ve become  an Executive Sponsor of Oracle Women Lead (OWL), a pioneering organization whose mission it is to develop, engage, and empower current and future generations of female leaders. Please check out OWL’s Emerging Leader Summit, the most recent of which took place in Singapore. Also visit: @OracleWomenLead on Twitter and get involved by contacting maryellen.kassotakis@oracle.com.  * Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. New York, New York: Random House, 2013.  

This Sunday will be International Women's Day, and to celebrate the push for more rights and achievements across the globe, I’m shifting my focus from technology to something more personal, as there...

5G

Policy to Grow in Importance for 5G-Enabled Customization of Use Cases & Services

As we’ve written previously, sophisticated 5G policy solutions can help “right size” network resources to customer QoE. Early CSP adopters of 5G will tailor services to the requirements of their consumer customers and valued enterprise customers for applications and devices. Policy management in the 5G control plane will help customize use cases and speed deployment of new services.   For example, long-time Oracle Communications customer KT Corp., in its network transformation toward 5G, is using the Oracle Communications 5G Core Policy Control Function (PCF) to provide a coherent and unified policy for governing network behavior. Sophisticated Policy Control is also important for Network Slicing. By logically separating virtualized network resources into specific slices, doors open to new services and ultimately more differentiated, personalized customer offerings. With custom-fit network slices, new use cases will capitalize on 5G’s high bandwidth, massive connectivity and ultra-low latency (i.e., AR and VR, Connected Cars, Smart Factories, and Smart Cities). As operators look to expand policy control from 4G to 5G, they should seek unified solutions that provide key capabilities, such as: Unified PCF and PCRF for managing both 4G and 5G policies in an intuitive and consistent fashion; Cloud-native approach that provides a seamless interworking and migration between 4G and 5G; Flexible management of different domain-specific policies; Granularity to manage individual and diverse services across slices; Programmable policies that are intuitive and user friendly; Drastic reduction in service delivery time (down to minutes!) by accelerating the design, testing and deployment of new use cases; Testing of policies to further shorten the policy design and deployment lifecycle. State-of-the-art policy management should enable rapid deployment of new use cases and services by anyone through programmable policies. Operators should be able to customize use cases and deploy new services without requiring software developers to write and maintain policies.   To learn more about how sophisticated, intelligent policy control can bring operational efficiency and ensure network resources meet the increasingly dynamic demands of subscriptions and users in real time, watch our new webcast “New Operating Models for Network Slicing” and read our SVP/GM Andrew Morawski’s blog “Sophisticated Policy is Key to ‘Right Sizing' Resources to User QoE.”  Be sure to subscribe today!  

As we’ve written previously, sophisticated 5G policy solutions can help “right size” network resources to customer QoE. Early CSP adopters of 5G will tailor services to the requirements of their...

Monetization

The CSP Dilemma: How to Make Money From 5G?

During a recent conversation about 5G and other ICT trends with Dr. Ron Bose of the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas, a compelling question arose, and it’s one that I expect to hear from many CxOs as they invest in their 5G network rollouts: “How will CSPs generate meaningful new revenues from 5G?” The question is even more profound when one considers the enormous investment mobile network operators (MNOs) must make to adhere to International Telecommunications Union (ITU) requirements for substantially higher bandwidth and throughput rates. To succeed, CSPs will have to take several steps, including: 1. Leverage Monetization & Orchestration solutions that accelerate business model experimentation. Solutions have to handle an increase in order volume, an explosion in the number and types of devices, network slice selection and bundling, and other challenges that can be met with sophisticated information, service & network modeling and monetization. 2. Evaluate 5G network slicing as a means to provide dedicated virtual networks with committed quality-of-service (QoS) characteristics and contracted service level agreements (SLAs). A new communications network architecture should be built with “Slicing” in mind so that CSPs can provide virtual networks dedicated to QoS-driven services. As shown in the diagram below, CSPs can allocate network bandwidth to verticals like healthcare, industrial or agricultural offers as part of a B2B2x value chain, and without having to learn the essentials of the businesses for which they are providing network capacity—hence creating new revenue streams while remaining focused on core competencies. In this scenario, everyone wins! 3. Explore partnerships and adjacent businesses in the Massive Machine-Type Communications (MMTC, a.k.a., Massive IoT) service category. Of the three 5G service categories — MMTC, Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB) and Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) — I believe that MMTC provides the greatest potential for long-term revenue growth.  While EMBB is in the “sweet spot” of CSPs, margins continue to erode as broadband data and content become increasingly prevalent and commoditized. This said, it’s IoT that continues to be the learning ground for CSPs exploring “Smart Everything” (e.g., Smart Cities, Smart Homes, Smart Vehicles, Smart Wearables). With the right partner strategy, CSPs can add IoT delivery to their repertoire to create naturally adjacent new lines of business. As those steps are taken, Oracle Communications can provide the solutions that help CSPs create, automate and monetize emerging 5G services, as well as experiment with potential new products and markets without incurring the time and cost of a large IT project. For example,  Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration solution facilitates an agile approach to CSP test marketing, and at a fraction of the cost required to do the same with traditional OSS solutions. Additionally, Oracle Communications offers a range of monetization solutions, including Oracle Monetization Cloud, Billing and Revenue Management, integrated charging functionality with the policy control function (PCF) for enhanced spend control and balance management. There also is real-time rating based on complex price and discount plans that allow service providers to choose from an array of rating metrics (e.g., minutes, downloads, clicks, sessions), as well as share resources (such as charges and discounts) across account groups. To learn more, go to Oracle Communications and contact us for more information.

During a recent conversation about 5G and other ICT trends with Dr. Ron Bose of the Naveen Jindal School of Management at the University of Texas at Dallas, a compelling question arose, and it’s one...

SD-WAN

Oracle a Leader in G2 Winter 2020 Grid Report®

Leading peer review site, G2, released its Winter 2020 SD-WAN Grid Report® with the Oracle SD-WAN solution landing in the Leaders Quadrant. This leadership ranking is based on hands-on verified purchase user comments supplied directly to the G2 team. It is worth pointing out that there is no third-party weighting or bias applied to this ranking, as our growing customer base consistently voices appreciation for the SD-WAN team’s dedication to security and networking professionals striving to intelligently power their companies’ digital transformation with SD-WAN capabilities. As evidenced in the comments below, leading corporations’ IT professionals rank Oracle’s SD-WAN ahead of traditional networking or security competitors, namely because of the delivery of real-time applications like Unified Communications and business-critical apps like ERP: "No more sleepless nights!! Huge cost savings!!!" Talari SD-WAN has provided us with a near bullet proof layer of service reliability which over the years has saved us tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity, not to mention we had yet to miss an SLA since implementing Talari. Also, it’s worth mentioning that we have had a massive reduction in after-hours conference calls, long hours waiting on carriers to restore service, etc. Our work life balance has never been better. -    Manager, Data Network Engineering "Amazing growth from using Talari" I love the mesh and the utilization I get from my global network — all my WAN links are being put to work. -    Network Administrator "We are an early adopter and still using the product." The product works really well, is easy to configure and manage and the support is good. It has saved us more times than I can count when ISPs went down and it has allowed us to ditch expensive MPLS in favor of basic (less costly) internet pipes. -    Director IT / Chief Strategist / Architect "Covers everything we require" The best thing is letting the solution manage what it wants to do rather than having to create a policy-based experience. Deployment is easy and we have just moved to the zero touch for the remainder of deployments. Support when needed has always been great. -    Administrator in Medical Devices "Very Good experience. Helps in deducting operational cost." Automation, Central management, less operational cost, easy administration. Makes it very easy to add new Site to Deployment. Bring up of new sites is very easy and less time consuming. -    SME Network & Security If you want to learn more about getting unmatched security, reliability, and QoE in an increasingly multicloud world, contact the team and read our other SD-WAN assets for more information: •    Case Studies: Four SD-WAN Industry Use Cases: Financial Services, e911, Professional Services & Manufacturing •    Article: Oracle SD-WAN Rescues 911 Calling in Phoenix •    Blog: Financial Services Invest Intelligently with SD-WAN Read other SD-WAN blogs here, and subscribe today!  

Leading peer review site, G2, released its Winter 2020 SD-WAN Grid Report® with the Oracle SD-WAN solution landing in the Leaders Quadrant. This leadership ranking is based on hands-on verified...

5G

The Impact of 5G, Cloud and AI on Farming

According to recent research by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world’s population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. That will pose enormous challenges to agriculture, the world’s largest industry and one increasingly threatened by drought, wildfires and other climate-driven disasters. If we are to make this world more sustainable, Mother Nature will have to coexist with technology. In fact, technology will be as integral to agriculture as are livestock, seeds and equipment today as it provides the best way to balance food security, environmental sustainability and economics. And for communications service providers (CSPs), that could be a huge cash cow, so to speak. Consider all that comes with the connectivity and speed of 5G, such as network slicing, edge computing and IoT.  CSPs have a chance to help ag businesses and producers make sense of the enormous amounts of data about water, soil conditions, weather, temperature, pests, harvest conditions, and more. With private fixed wireless networks, they can promise better connectivity among ever-expanding farms, nurseries, remote branches and corporate offices. They could also play a role in managing the mushrooming number of applications, data, devices and access points. Some telecom bodies like GSMA and member operators are working to apply mobile-based enterprise services in B2B2X business models to agriculture and farming. For example Verizon and AT&T are innovating in IoT-driven “digital farming” and others will no doubt follow suit as this industry’s needs expand. As this happens, technology will be increasingly relevant to operators and enterprises entrenched in agriculture and farming. For example, our SD-WAN is invaluable for secure, reliable management of branches and remote locations important to crop yields, workloads, workforces, inventories, logistics, and more. Also critical will be highly automated policy management and charging functions that support the QoS-related parameters that come with 5G New Radio (NR) and allow for more personalized and customized services. To learn more about what Oracle Communications offers, go here and be sure to read my other industry blogs.  

According to recent research by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the world’s population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050. That will pose enormous challenges to...

Monetization/Orchestration

Oracle Communications at MWC Barcelona: ‘Communications Reimagined’

As I wrote last year, MWC19 was in large part a showcase of devices, gadgets, robots and even holograms. But while 5G use cases are certainly cool, mobile broadband infrastructure requires equal attention, as no amount of awe-inspiring applications will matter if there is inadequate network coverage, scale and capability. Also crucial, will be the consideration of the “human” side of digital, as engaging people and ensuring a meaningful and valuable overall experience will be extremely important.   For these reasons, Oracle Communications will be at MWC Barcelona 2020 showing 10 demos focused on helping service providers and enterprises unlock and monetize IoT and 5G’s business value, as well as transform the digital customer experience. Here is a sneak peek of what we will showcase in Hall 2, 2H40: Oracle's Smart City: Monetize Smart City Deployments with 5G, Cloud, and AI. Learn how Oracle can enable CSPs to become the provider of choice for smart cities. With Oracle’s market-proven smart city offering, CSPs can overcome technical complexity and industrialize smart city deployments to monetize 5G investments; Tomorrow's Cloud Solutions, Today: Transform and Thrive with Smarter CX, Data Innovations, and Agile ERP. Leverage the agility of cloud to simplify CX. Optimize network and operations with data and modern ERP, and generate new revenues through data, connected spaces, and content; Rapid Delivery of IoT Services: Enable the Future with Digital BSS Express, which helps operators compete in a rapidly evolving communications market with the lowest possible cost. See how flexible, carrier-grade, and integrated BSS/OSS products combine with prebuilt business processes and TM Forum Open APIs in this innovative solution; Digital Experience for Communications: Experience the delivery, fulfillment and monetization of 5G services, such as an AR/VR “in- stadium” experience. Learn how Oracle Digital Experience for Communications (DX4C) is revolutionizing the industry with a 5G-ready, E2E cloud solution; Service and Network Orchestration: Explore the design and fulfillment of contemporary communications services on one or more 5G network slices. See how the application of 5G data access within our zero-touch partnering solution enables CSPs to develop and operate digital ecosystems, enabling them to grow and diversify their revenue streams; Cloud Native Modern Monetization: See this showcase of 5G monetization, including an “in-stadium” AR/VR experience. See how modern monetization supports faster innovation and IT agility, with full cloud-native deployment to increase efficiency and fuel disruptive innovation; New Revenue Streams with 5G Network as a Service: Learn how to offer customized connectivity with industry vertical and IoT cloud solutions that unlock new revenue streams. Oracle's 5G network- as-a-service (NaaS) offering and use cases on digital logistics, smart cities, and construction engineering verticals will be featured; Security, Analytics, and Observability in a Cloud Native World: Protect, monitor, and secure networks with Oracle 3G/4G/5G solutions. Manage and secure communications, protect against expensive outages, loss of sensitive data, fraud, and network breaches. Gain network visibility in an increasingly complex network with protocols across 3G/4G/5G and cloud native stacks; Operational Efficiency of Cloud for Telco Core Networks: Evolve your network with Oracle Cloud Native 5G Core network functions on routing, policy, database, and voice. Rearchitected with an IT framework, you can leverage the operational efficiency of the cloud for telco core networks; Self-Driving, Self-Healing SD-WAN: Deliver exceptional QoE for business-critical applications  with Oracle’s SD-WAN, which provides the optimal mobile performance for business-critical applications that demand the high performance that comes with self-driving and self-healing networks. Check out Senior VP and GM Andrew Morawski’s blog series on how different industries will be affected by 5G and the IoT: construction, manufacturing, and retail.  Also, get in touch with us to meet at MWC.  See you in Barcelona! Be sure to subscribe to the blog.    

As I wrote last year, MWC19 was in large part a showcase of devices, gadgets, robots and even holograms. But while 5G use cases are certainly cool, mobile broadband infrastructure requires equal...

Orchestration

Back-Office Management Crucial to 5G Revolution

While there is no question 5G is sexy, the back office traditionally has not been—but the time has come for robust, fully automated back-office management systems to get some of the limelight. While my prior blog discussed the importance of cloud-native architectures, this one looks at the order orchestration challenges introduced by Enhanced Mobile Broadband (EMBB), Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and Massive IoT/Machine-type Communications (MMTC). To successfully orchestrate these critical 5G services, solutions have to be able to handle: increase in order volume new domains larger numbers and different types of devices intelligent declarative automation for fulfillment and design flows new service and resource models network slice selection and bundling to support complex customer services.  These challenges can be conquered with investment in three key areas: information modeling, network architecture deployment, and monetization. Information Models CSPs need a well-designed and sophisticated information model that decouples commercial offers from fulfillment workflows and technical implementation details —often depicted in an hourglass shape, as depicted here. Within the Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration (OC-SNO) solution, CSPs get a well-formed information model that leverages intelligent automation software to interpret how to complete provisioning with limited-to-no manual run-time intervention. Network Architecture In order to migrate to 5G in a natural, pragmatic way, CSPs have to be able to rationally design and manage the construction of the radio network and 5G Core. They must choose solutions that handle non-standalone and standalone deployment options, as well as very rapid growth in number and types of devices as the edge of the network expands — inevitable as the edge becomes more intelligent and accessible in low latency use cases. With OC-SNO, CSPs get a modern inventory system that manages the entire lifecycle of a network, including virtual networks (“Slicing”), physical & logical connections, and devices with a variety of technologies assembled into several formations that help CSPs transition from current- to end-state. They can rationally design and manage the construction of the radio network and 5G Core, as well as accommodate the growth in devices at the network edge. Monetization Service providers seeking to monetize 5G-enabled services, need to be able to rate millions of events per day and to creatively price services. This is possible through converged online and offline billing/charging architectures and modern charging functions that are auto-discoverable by other core network functions. Oracle Communications offers a range of monetization solutions, including Oracle Monetization Cloud, Billing and Revenue Management (BRM), integrated charging functionality and a policy control function (PCF), which enable enhanced spend control and balance management. Within BRM, there is real-time rating based on complex price and discount plans, allowing service providers to choose from an array of rating metrics (e.g., minutes, downloads, clicks, sessions), and to share resources (such as charges and discounts) across account groups. To find out how Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration, 5G Monetization and other integrated applications can prepare you for the evolution to the 5G+ world, visit Oracle Communications. Also be sure to subscribe to the blog.  

While there is no question 5G is sexy, the back office traditionally has not been—but the time has come for robust, fully automated back-office management systems to get some of the limelight. While my...

5G

Retail as We Know It Will be Unrecognizable in a Few Years

Over the holiday season, did you soak in all the ways wireless, digital technologies are transforming retail, making the customer experience more individualized and compelling both in-store and online? Walk into any store in the new year and you might knowingly or unknowingly be impacted by 5G + IoT + AI video analytics + voice recognition/conversation commerce. The advent of 5G-driven, digitally infused communications will not only personalize customer experience, but it will also simplify and automate what used to be meaningless or difficult tasks for shoppers. As retailers learn the patterns of behaviors for people as a whole and as individuals, they will recognize how customers search for products and brands, and what use cases are most valuable to them. In the past, how many times has there been a tinge of frustration at trying clothes on and seeing you need the next size up or a different color, and needing to call out for an associate or re-dress to get what you want? What if the mirror in the dressing room leveraged RFID tags to recognize what you’re trying and offered suggestions of what you might like, perhaps automatically sending notification to an assistant? What if you could tie into social media platforms and instantly send pictures or video to your friends so they could offer their opinions on what you’re trying on? These scenarios are becoming reality, and as you go to the store more often, AI will help retailers recognize your likes and dislikes so that suggestions can be proactively sent to your smartphone with accompanying coupons for discounts or sales. Additionally, facial recognition systems will respond to your facial cues and further customize your options, as AI-driven, predictive technologies will know what you want perhaps before you do! Consider how McDonalds has an opt-in trial going on for personalization through new drive-thru touchscreens that base product recommendations on the license plate as well as the weather, wait time and item popularity at the moment the vehicle pulls up to the drive-thru window. Another area prime for 5G is that of inventory and supply chain, as embedded IoT sensors will yield “smart shelves” that communicate with suppliers through 5G-connected software applications. This may also become a way to revolutionize theft prevention. With all of these changes afoot, retail may become unrecognizable a few years from now. What do you think about these changes, and will it change the choices and purchases you make?  How do you think the wealth of information can help retailers evolve their marketing and sales strategies? To learn more, check out Oracle Retail and read more about the impact of communications on industries here.  

Over the holiday season, did you soak in all the ways wireless, digital technologies are transforming retail, making the customer experience more individualized and compelling both in-store and...

5G

New 5G and Cloud-Based Voice Services Will Transform Our Lives

I see it all around me. Voice services are experiencing a resurgence. People are increasingly ditching their keyboards and touch pads for simpler and more natural voice interactions. More satisfying voice services will result from the combinations of 5G, Cloud and AI technologies. Why? Because the adoption of 5G will provide massive quality-of-service (QoS) upgrades, including lower latencies, higher speeds, superior network availability, and improved reliability.  These advantages will eliminate congestion-driven voice problems that have plagued us such as stuttering, skipping, and dropped calls. For example, 5G will allow CSPs to provide a dedicated, ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC) 5G network slice for voice communications that will solve common voice quality and latency issues. It will also accelerate the evolution from 3G to voice over LTE (VoLTE), which is a necessary step as CSPs pursue different migration paths to full 5G Voice over New Radio capabilities. As I had written in my previous blog, slicing will enable network operators to partition their networks and offer tailored services to meet different business needs for enterprise customers.  I am also excited about new 5G codec technology that supports multiple audio channels, immersive audio, and virtual reality communications use cases. It will enable new 5G voice services whereby people communicating with each other can be immersed in each other’s environments, such as chatting and watching videos together in a seamless manner.  At the same time, Cloud-based communications are growing rapidly.  Forbes predicts that by 2020, 83 percent of all business processes will be managed using cloud technology and voice is no exception. Already, many of our enterprise customers are engaging their service providers for cloud-based unified communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) that will benefit from 5G’s improved QoS and secure real-time communication via a cloud-native session border control. These services include voice, video, and Rich Communications Services (RCS) that provide significant cost savings, improved employee productivity and collaboration, and the ability to deliver personalized customer experiences to users. I also see consumer communications preferences shifting as they look for natural, faster, and more personalized voice engagements via talk, live chat, social media, and other channels. This opens up an opportunity for CSPs to provide rich and interactive voice services as part of integrated communications offers. While voice has been a primary means of person-to-person communications, it is now taking over person-to-machine communications. It will transform customer digital experiences as AI-infused personal voice assistants, chatbots, and voice-controlled interfaces are used to search the Internet, buy services, support real-time translations, and interact with any device. CSPs can infuse their digital customer experience platforms with these capabilities as well as offer AI-based voice services as part of an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy. If you want to learn more about the different network evolution paths for voice services, subscribe to the Oracle Communications blog, and read more about 5G here.    

I see it all around me. Voice services are experiencing a resurgence. People are increasingly ditching their keyboards and touch pads for simpler and more natural voice interactions. More satisfying...

Security

Media Virtualization – Virtual Session Border Controllers Now a Reality

As we discussed previously, a new breed of Session Border Controller (SBC) has emerged—virtualized and fully orchestrated to work well in software-defined environments. As network operators around the world move their infrastructures to SDN and cloud, they seek solutions that give them flexibility, speed of service deployment and efficiency in their operations. Despite those potential benefits, the reality is that reaping the benefits of virtualization has been complicated when it comes to media-handling functions like SBCs, in which the signaling and media planes are often tightly intertwined.  Fortunately, this can be overcome by decomposing the two planes and packaging virtualized network function components into virtual machines (VMs) that scale independently to meet fluctuating traffic profiles and demands—ultimately translating into superior QoE for subscribers and customers. That increased elasticity and QoE was an attractive proposition for a Tier 1 operator that wanted to aggressively roll out high-speed VoLTE and other advanced services in Asia Pacific. The operator wanted the option to have VMs “up and running" or deleted in a matter of minutes according to whatever was happening in real time with traffic profiles. The fear, however, was that the flexibility and scalability of a fully virtualized platform would mean a trade-off of the security and protection often associated only with hardware.   Best of Both Worlds: Rock-Solid Security + Elasticity/Flexibility The operator decided to go with a virtualized deployment of the Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (OC-SBC), which was specifically designed for this type of deployment and orchestrated to work in a software-defined environment. That meant the flexibility of running on industry-standard virtualization infrastructure plus the OC-SBC optimizations and software libraries maximized for performance.  Once the choice was made, Oracle Communications Consulting (OCC) helped with the installation, integration and testing of the OC-SBC. To ensure the virtualized SBC would deliver the same QoS as a physical appliance, different options were evaluated for the Input /Output Mode on the virtual SBC platform, such as: PCI Pass through, Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) or single root input/output virtualization (SR-IOV). Since the platform would support media handling, the team wanted to avoid any delay in packet handling by the VMs to ensure a favorable user experience. With that in mind, SR-IOV was selected as the IO mode, offering PCI Pass-through like virtual functions on a physical function so that there could be efficient handling of media (voice) packets. The Results With the virtualized OC-SBC, the operator now has a solution that is extremely flexible and scalable. The operator can add VMs within minutes on the platform, with on-demand scalability, improved user experience and better adherence to SLAs. Additionally, services can be introduced faster, and with shorter innovation cycles, and all with the type of performance and robust protections that traditionally came with hardware. Learn more about Oracle SBCs here and about Oracle Communications Consulting here. Also check out our blog “Evolution of SBC from Purpose Built to Virtualized" and Subscribe Today!  

As we discussed previously, a new breed of Session Border Controller (SBC) has emerged—virtualized and fully orchestrated to work well in software-defined environments. As network operators around the...

SD-WAN

What’s Needed for Connected, Smart Factories of the Future?

For my second installment in this series about the impact of advanced technologies on digitally transforming industries, I gravitated toward manufacturing because, like construction, it is a sector that will be transformed by what is happening with communications, digitalization, cloud, networking, the IoT, big data and advanced analytics. In our recent research, 82 percent of manufacturers indicated they have or plan to develop a digital transformation strategy, with early-investment areas being IoT, cloud, machine learning, 3D printing/additive manufacturing, robots and co-bots, and AI. These investments will improve internal business workflow and processes, operations and supply chains and deliver on key manufacturing goals, such as growing revenue, reducing costs, fostering automation, increasing throughput and making better decisions. Success will depend heavily on the performance of the underlying networks and how they integrate with data centers, enterprise applications, web services and cloud services. The network will have to handle hundreds of zettabytes of data invited by IoT’s interconnected sensors, cameras, wearables, pressure/motion detectors, mobile phones, tablets, printers and more. To accommodate this onslaught, IT organizations will have a lot of decisions to make in many areas: Connectivity options (low power/short range WiFi or Bluetooth vs. WANs or LPWANs); Infrastructure (IPv4, IPv6, RPL, LowPAN); Device types; Applications; Network protocols; Power/consumption demands in different locations. On top of all that, they will also have industry-specific concerns to prioritize as each of the leading manufacturing sectors has growing regulatory, safety and security concerns — pharma, automotive, electronics, telecom equipment, aerospace and defense, engineering, energy, oil and gas. With so much to think about and manage, CIOs and IT organizations will need partners and suppliers with IT expertise, cloud heritage, and expansive global partner ecosystems. Oracle Communications conquers the biggest communications and digital transformation challenges manufacturers and others in industrial IoT fields will face. With vast experience in cloud applications, Oracle can help improve internal business workflows and processes, lift legacy system constraints and integrate systems to ensure data gets where it needs to in IoT and industrial IoT (IIoT) implementations. Read about our SD-WAN for manufacturing, and Oracle’s other communications industry solutions. Also check out my other blogs here and subscribe today.  

For my second installment in this series about the impact of advanced technologies on digitally transforming industries, I gravitated toward manufacturing because, like construction, it is a...

UC and Contact Center

Moving Voice from Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Direct Routing

Recently Microsoft announced that Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021. Skype for Business Online is a Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) application that is part of Microsoft 365. As the Marketing Calling lead at Microsoft, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on this change and what it means to mutual Microsoft and Oracle Communications customers, while reiterating that Skype Consumer and Skype for Business Server are unaffected by this announcement.   In 2017, we launched Microsoft Teams as “the hub for teamwork” in Microsoft 365. Teams combines chat, files, meetings, calling, and apps/workflows into a single, integrated app – and enables an entirely new way of working. Over the last two years, Microsoft has refined Teams to improve collaboration and to evolve the way companies think about workloads, such as meetings and calling. As a result of that work, Microsoft can now confidently recommend Teams as an upgrade to all Skype for Business Online customers.       At the end of 2017, we announced Phone System and Microsoft Calling Plans for Teams customers, which helps organizations that want to reduce the number of vendors with which they work, and those that need service in the 12 geographies we support. And for customers that want global PSTN coverage, Microsoft has added Direct Routing, allowing enterprises to bring their own calling plans to Teams.   At the heart of the Direct Routing solution is the incredibly important Session Border Controller (SBC), a device that ensures security and connectivity across different parts of the network, addressing regulatory and Quality of Service (QoS) requirements. As part of the architecture, Microsoft certifies SBCs for Direct Routing as an assurance that the service is robust. Earlier this year, we were very excited to have Oracle Communications join as a certified partner for customers who want to use Direct Routing.   Oracle Communications has a large footprint in the SBC market, and many of our customers have asked that Oracle's SBCs be certified. This in turn has freed our joint customers to deploy Calling in Teams using Oracle SBCs and Direct Routing.   Customers are also asking about high availability for calling workloads. Oracle Communications and Microsoft are working together to provide an SD-WAN solution in the future. Easily being able to switch from a failing configuration to one that can handle the calling traffic really helps customers have the best experience.   With Direct Routing now deployed in 83 countries and counting, this is a good time for you to consider the Microsoft Cloud for voice managed and protected by Oracle Communications Session Border Controller. To learn more about securing enterprise VoIP and unified communications (UC) networks, read about Oracle Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC) and its certification with Microsoft Teams. Also check out Nemertes’ research about UC security and this webinar about securing IP telephony networks.  

Recently Microsoft announced that Skype for Business Online will be retired on July 31, 2021. Skype for Business Online is a Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) application that is part...

5G

Sophisticated Policy is Key to 'Right Sizing' Resources to User QoE

As I wrote previously, software-defined networks are a key part of network intelligence in that they separate the control plane from the data plane so that underlying network infrastructure is abstracted from applications. This helps communications service providers (CSPs) pull from their network traffic the subscriber-, service- and application-level awareness they need to improve CX or QoE. A critical enabler of that “awareness” is policy, which manages the paths between different points and assembles a precise picture of the user, the class of service, QoS parameters and network resources available at any given moment. As CSPs are pushed to meet more stringent SLAs amid more volatile, and harder-to-predict demands across new services, sophisticated policy will unlock new doors in the enterprise space. Take for example network-as-a-service (NaaS) solutions that will spawn differentiated and personalized offerings that customize connectivity services to specific users, applications and devices. The ability to “right size” connectivity to specific use cases would mean greater 5G network monetization opportunities, and robust policy will be essential to managing the many network resources and services that comprise increasingly heterogeneous and dynamic environments. Additionally, policy will play a bigger role in the evolution toward LTE, and in building secure and elastic LTE/IMS networks. As a result of policy’s growing importance, the Oracle Communications Policy Management solution has been enhanced to add a cloud-native policy control function (PCF) that extends the functionality of the PCRF as part of a 5G core network. To learn more, read the press release about how early-NaaS adopter KT Corp. is using Oracle Communications 5G Policy Control Function in the deployment of its 5G networks, and see our video about our 5G Next-Gen Core. Check out more blogs here, and subscribe today!

As I wrote previously, software-defined networks are a key part of network intelligence in that they separate the control plane from the data plane so that underlying network infrastructure is...

SD-WAN

Take the 'Middle Road' for Success with Software-Defined WANs

For WAN managers, network reliability and high QoE for the applications that run over the network are what best define business success. With the advent of SD-WANs, certain vendors and analysts incorrectly say that when combined with their simplified network management technology, the “low road” of the unaided public Internet reliably delivers real-time applications like Unified Communications and mission-critical apps like ERP. Meanwhile, other vendors claim that the “high road” of retaining MPLS forever is necessary for network reliability and application QoE, falsely contending that a multi-WAN Internet fabric is incapable of delivering QoE because Internet underlay connections themselves cannot offer QoS guarantees. While the Internet on its own cannot deliver reliability and high QoE, MPLS is neither a standalone “diamond lane” cure nor even a necessary condition for ensuring application sessions do not get broken and perform as users demand. For these reasons, both premises are wrong. There is, in fact, a “middle road” to take for SD-WANs — one that simultaneously lowers risk while raising the levels of reliability and QoE, as well as other benefits, such as: improved site-to-cloud access, Internet economics, avoidance of vendor lock-in, and, in fact, higher QoE than that possible with the supposed “high road.” A self-driving, self-healing SD-WAN navigates the best route between these plausible-seeming extremes. But doing so requires sophisticated SD-WAN technology, which most vendors simply cannot offer. Those vendors who tout “application-aware” capabilities are often talking of just identifying applications, leaving it to network administrators to set thresholds and map applications to specific roads. Network administrators should not be burdened to do what the SD-WAN is supposed to do, which is to direct applications to the optimal paths right now for better reliability and application QoE. Here are four “middle road” capabilities to look for: Fine-grained Measurements — Continuous unidirectional measurement of all possible paths among locations, recognizing for example that the expensive, toll-based MPLS carpool lane on the three-lane highway may usually be fastest, but if congested, may go down during the traffic jam; Lightning-quick Reflexes – Per-packet, sub-second response to roads (WAN links), traffic signals (routers) and congestion-based traffic jams that cause packet loss and jitter; Powerful Jitter-Free Engine — Optional packet replication (over different paths/roads) that ensures highest QoE and max Mean Opinion Scores (MOS), even if multiple paths experience packet loss or jitter; Collision Avoidance — Inbound multisource QoS capability for “air traffic control” offering high QoE for real-time and highly interactive applications, even when many are using a shared inbound Internet link. This “middle road” approach outlined above offers a near-infinite number of mirrors, onboard sensors, road sensors and destination sensors to monitor what is happening on the road, as well as the ability to route pertinent information to an automated “traffic cop” that directs applications to their optimal paths. Go here to learn more about how Oracle Communications approach and contact the team to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs. Also read these SD-WAN assets for more information: Case Studies: Four SD-WAN Industry Use Cases: Financial Services, e911, Professional Services & Manufacturing Article: Oracle SD-WAN Rescues 911 Calling in Phoenix Blog: Financial Services Invest Intelligently with SD-WAN Read other SD-WAN blogs here, and subscribe today!  

For WAN managers, network reliability and high QoE for the applications that run over the network are what best define business success. With the advent of SD-WANs, certain vendors and analysts...

Monetization

Why Cloud Native Will Become the ‘New Normal’ for CIOs

During this month’s World Series between the Nationals and Astros, baseball fans had many premium features available to them for streaming over a variety of devices, in different languages, and at different speeds, from basic to premium. I also had the option for a bandwidth boost on my last flight, and see more options cropping up in gaming and other places for more diverse bandwidth and device options. This is only the beginning, as far more will be possible as 5G-enabled devices, apps and services come into existence. The accelerated speed at which new services and apps will have to be deployed and monetized (priced, rated, and billed) will require IT agility at its absolute best. Service providers will need the flexibility to rate any metric, support any charging option, and accept any payment—and with optimal performance and guaranteed security, regardless of the number of devices or third parties involved. In order to design, test and deploy rapidly, CIOs will need solutions that offer the features and reliability of long-proven solutions, but the agility and efficiency of newer, more automated solutions. Provisioning and monetizing new services and business models at Internet speed and at massive scale will require Cloud Native, DevOps-aligned architecture, which really does need to become the “new normal” for enterprise IT striving to improve collaboration, co-ownership and other benefits that attract new talent to IT. To go cloud native, there must also be a change in mindset, as IT organizations should consider at every stage how cloud can be leveraged to improve the design, implementation, deployment and operation of an application. For example, in the cloud native deployment of Oracle Communications Billing and Revenue Management (BRM), we built a Kubernetes-orchestrated, Docker containerized multi-service architecture with certain goals in mind, such as easier installs, more efficient scaling and simplified upgrades. Because billing and revenue management are critical functions, companies require them to be continuously available on a 24x7 basis. The cloud-native architecture significantly reduces downtime related to upgrades and security patches. Operators can now take advantage of containerization, standards-based software and open source, and be increasingly empowered to manage existing infrastructure through instances of software, helping them to lower OPEX and CAPEX, as well as accelerate time to innovation. That is important to all service providers, whether agile MVNOs, cash-strapped start-ups or well-resourced operators looking for efficiencies. By offering BRM in a cloud native deployment option, Oracle Communications combines the robust functionality and full extensibility of BRM with the efficiency and agility of cloud. Check out our new flyer and be sure to subscribe to the Oracle Communications blog so you can be the first to hear about future plans to extend cloud-native architecture and technology to other products and solutions within Oracle Communications.  

During this month’s World Series between the Nationals and Astros, baseball fans had many premium features available to them for streaming over a variety of devices, in different languages, and at...

5G/SD-WAN

Paving the Way for Digital Transformation in Connected Construction

Construction is one of the most impactful industries to all of us, affecting homes, roads, schools, businesses, cities, and societies as a whole. For the communications industry, construction has always provided a critical piece of the connectivity infrastructure on which we all rely. And now, communications increasingly underpin much of the transformation disrupting the construction industry, which is becoming a testing ground for digital innovation in communications, networking, cloud, AI, machine learning, robotics, analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). The immense pressure to be faster, safer, productive, efficient, and cheaper has transformed construction from purely physical to an amalgamation of physical and non-physical. Inspired by the IoT,  the boundaries of construction are changing, as with 3D-print cities, AI/ML digital workflows and  analytics, cloud-enabled building information modeling (BIM), wearable sensors, Bluetooth-enabled asset tracking, and WiFi mesh networking—all of which are helping to connect and manage an extraordinary amount of “things,” whether machines, devices, tools and equipment, as well as the human beings operating and relying on them. The ability to pull in various forms of data and information, and to communicate it in real time is increasingly important as far-flung project teams seek to be simultaneously informed about what’s happening and to quickly understand and adjust for the impact of change. Graphics, drawings and information models must be synchronized to foster real transparency and trust among all stakeholders. The harmonization of information through photo and video sharing, annotation and chat has greatly improved communications, collaboration and performance across key areas of construction, including: Asset management (number of machines, their performance metrics, locations); Materials (sensors that detect the strength and integrity of concrete, steel, wood); People (the number of people, their locations, their training, their safety). The worksites of tomorrow also require high-performance, highly resilient networks that promise reliability and redundancy. This is especially true for construction projects that have a low tolerance for link failures or capacity issues as with bandwidth-hungry construction applications for desktop virtualization and collaboration. Because of the rapid pace of IoT in construction and the need for better safety, performance and efficiency, Oracle Communications’ work in 5G, SD-WAN, signaling and policy, network and border control, and enterprise communications will help bring the construction and engineering world into full view, with unprecedented visibility and control through a connected supply chain that will drive performance, mitigate risk and inspire new levels of collaboration. To learn about digital innovation in the worksite of tomorrow, check out this new video. Also check my blogs to see future installments on how technology is affecting other industries.  

Construction is one of the most impactful industries to all of us, affecting homes, roads, schools, businesses, cities, and societies as a whole. For the communications industry, construction has...

SD-WAN

Oracle SD-WAN Solution Receives High NSS Labs Benchmark Test Recommendation — Here are Some Reasons Why

Oracle Communications SD-WAN solution was part of a third-party industrywide technical and business value benchmark test from NSS Labs, which offers enterprise buyers measurements for secure WAN traffic performance, Mean Opinion Scores (MOS) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The solution was run through three vigorous test use cases around manageability and cost, performance, and security, ultimately earning it NSS Labs’ “Recommended” rating — the highest it awards for products that consistently score equal to or above the market during NSS testing. The test results for Oracle’s SD-WAN can be found here. Below is a closer look at some of the key features of the Oracle SD-WAN that were tested: Manageability and Cost, with Oracle’s SD-WAN offering short deployment times thanks to centralized configuration and policy management and zero-touch provisioning, as well as better-than-competitor time to deploy configuration, and availability of an intelligent Centralized Management System (CMS); Performance, particularly for VoIP and video and latency-sensitive, real-time services including UCaaS and CCaaS. Patented Oracle failsafe SD-WAN capabilities not only guard against device and link failures that could result in costly downtime, but the SD-WAN’s self-driving, self-healing capabilities automatically address network congestion-caused “brownout” problems, sub-second, so that applications sessions are not broken, calls are not dropped, and user Quality of Experience (QoE) remains high; Security, to guard against network-delivered exploitation, the SD-WAN provides protection against even high rates of unauthorized traffic. Enterprise SD-WAN offerings need to support three distinctly different network security model options—centralized, distributed and cloud-based protection. The Oracle team recently wrote a blog detailing how its  SD-WAN solutions meet and exceed enterprise network security requirements. To learn more, download the Oracle results from NSS Labs’ 2019 SD-WAN 2.0 tests, and visit Oracle's SD-WAN home page and other SD-WAN assets, including our recent: Whitepaper: Choose the Right SD-WAN by reading this new ZK Research Get other SD-WAN blogs here and subscribe today!

Oracle Communications SD-WAN solution was part of a third-party industrywide technical and business value benchmark test from NSS Labs, which offers enterprise buyers measurements for secure WAN...

SD-WAN

Financial Services Invests Intelligently with SD-WAN Innovation

ATMs recently celebrated their 50th birthday. Since their inception in the United Kingdom in 1967, they have grown substantially and will number approximately 4 million globally in the next two years. These financial services customer endpoints will be among the most impacted and closely watched under regulatory guidelines as banks undergo a rapid digital transformation. The rapid proliferation of ATMs as multi-application customer portals is attracting non-traditional competitors, creating a financial services gold rush that includes insurance leaders, mortgage lenders, check cashing leaders and even big-box consumer store brands. These non-traditional competitors are joining the financial services market empowered by modern networks that leverage increasing amounts of software intelligence. Competitors like traditional insurance firms are using SD-WAN software intelligence to break into traditional banking network ATM services, among others. To securely modernize and scale services, competitors and banks alike will need failsafe, high QoE SD-WAN technology that intelligently manages application traffic. Oracle Communications SD-WAN approach to application-fluent networks lowers the overall cost, increases the reliability and simplifies the management of wide area network (WAN) services powering every ATM, and also helps financial services firms differentiate their products. Obstacles of course remain. How will banks, insurers and other financial firms modernize networks and legacy ATMs to improve customer engagement through the real-time networking synergy of more than 600,000 human tellers? SD-WAN and QoE ensure these human tellers are fully leveraged by the customer-facing virtual staff previously seen as only ATM endpoints. Modern banking will need to defend against customer churn at these new virtual tellers by delivering on complex video and data-rich transactions, delivering a superior user experience, and all without escalating WAN outlays and support costs. This is necessary because digital banking is the fastest growing portion of financial services. Accenture estimates digital banking business models will impact up to 80 percent of existing banking revenues by 2020. As digital banking grows, it will be self-driving, self-healing SD-WAN technology that can help financial organizations overcome the challenges they encounter as they evolve their digital strategies. Modern networks leveraging Oracle failsafe SD-WAN deliver highly reliable, app-fluent high-QoE connectivity thanks to capabilities such as continuous unidirectional measurement of all traffic between locations and real-time best-path selection with sub-second response to network problems. An Oracle SD-WAN not only delivers branch office consolidation and simplified centralized network management — as most all SD-WAN offerings do — but does so in a carrier-agnostic manner that does not require forklift upgrades, and delivers increased reliability and superior QoE compared to existing WANs. Banks using the resulting business network can safely augment their existing offerings with important new network-critical use cases such as video streaming, videoconferencing, custom offer engagement and significant leaps in customer experience for competitive advantage. All in all, a modern, self-driving, self-healing SD-WAN will help financial service customers eliminate their dependence on expensive, rigid legacy network options. Core modernization is already underway for Oracle financial services customers, including KeyBank, HDFC Bank, and Westpac, as they strive to gain competitive user experience advantages from new digital banking advances. They and other financial services providers are pulling into the fast lane of digital transformation. Beyond ATMs and real-time tellers, financial services firms can look ahead to adopting cloud-based technologies like big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning, all without being overly burdened from a cost, risk, reliability or user experience perspective. What they need is the right SD-WAN solution, which make it possible for WAN-savvy network managers and partners to safely deliver high QoE advanced applications for the modern digital financial institution. Be sure to learn about other SD-WAN industry solutions here and come back to read additional SD-WAN-related posts. Also consider accessing the following SD-WAN content: •    Case Study: Arlington Elevates QoE in B2B eCommerce and Call Center Operations •    Report:  Failsafe SD-WAN is Mission-critical to Digital Transformation Success •    Blog: Drive Automated Intelligence into Enterprise Networks with SD-WAN •    Continuous Unidirectional SD-WAN Intelligence Video: Intelligent WAN Edge in Action Contact the team here to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs.

ATMs recently celebrated their 50th birthday. Since their inception in the United Kingdom in 1967, they have grown substantially and will number approximately 4 million globally in the next two years....

5G

What Do Enterprises Really Want from 5G, and Why Should CSPs Care?

In a recent co-sponsored TM Forum report "5G Future: Targeting the Enterprise,” analysts Tim McElligott and Mark Newman explore the value prop CSPs can offer enterprises, and what enterprises in different verticals actually want from 5G. CSPs increasingly expect more of their revenues to come from B2B services long term, and in the report, mobile operators, converged operators and wholesale/managed service providers sound off about co-creation environments and how they can potentially collaborate with vendors, enterprises, third-party developers, and even competitors to create digital services and applications. As part of that exploration, the authors take a deep dive into what CSPs can do to boost 5G innovation, as with the ecosystem-driven initiative MxD (Manufacturing times Digital) in which AT&T, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar and others encourage factories to deploy digital manufacturing and design technologies that make them more efficient and cost-competitive. The report also weighs in on how 5G will impact other verticals, such as financial services, healthcare, public sector, automotive and utilities. And, it looks at the different strategies companies will take with 5G—whether as a complement to WiFi in the enterprise space, or through dedicated network and service capabilities to individual enterprises via network slicing, or through private 5G networks that can become a new line of business for them. The common thread among all seems to be an increased focus on customers, and a consequent need to elevate QoE—increasingly complex in a multi-cloud world where everything is becoming available “as-a-service.” Commonality is also seen in a desire to shorten development, deployment and monetization cycles for new services and to tap into new sources of revenue through new business models and lines of business. To capitalize on 5G's potential, the report outlines key steps CSPs need to complete, including: Deploying 5G technology in the radio access network (RAN) and core networks Virtualizing network functions Adopting software-defined networking (SDN) Upgrading operational and business support systems. If you are a CSP evaluating the potential of different use cases across verticals, and the areas in which enterprises want your help, download the report and its complement 5G Future: Business Models for Monetization. Also learn how Oracle can help in your enterprise-driven goals by checking out our blogs on Digital Transformation, 5G, Monetization and SD-WAN. To keep up with all that will be happening, be sure to subscribe to the Oracle Communications blog, and read more here.  

In a recent co-sponsored TM Forum report "5G Future: Targeting the Enterprise,” analysts Tim McElligott and Mark Newman explore the value prop CSPs can offer enterprises, and what enterprises in...

SD-WAN

SD-WANs Provide a Fast Path to Next-Gen 911 Services

Most of the technology industry has evolved at a blistering pace over the past decade.  One area that has not kept pace is the 911 service on which most cities rely to provide emergency services to its citizens.  Most 911 systems were built using legacy, analog phone systems rather than digital technologies, which means most public safety answering points (PSAPs) across the country need to be upgraded to modernized IP-based systems—something commonly referred to as next-generation 911 (NG911). The modernization of 911 will greatly improve the reliability of the service as the new platforms will be built on modernized infrastructure.  This will allow voice, pictures, video and SMS to be sent from the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to the 911 network. Another benefit of NG911 is that the calling capacity can be increased by transferring calls to alternate PSAPs in the event of a disaster, thus eliminating any overload on one PSAP.   Something that’s just as important as the calling infrastructure is the network. Because one of the fundamental tenets of NG911 is agility, and PSAPS cannot be agile without an agile network, it’s important to modernize a network when planning for NG911. Legacy networks use a combination of MPLS, frame-relay and leased lines, often with IP VPN providing the backup.   While these types of network services are fairly reliable, the failover time when switching from the active connection to backup can often take some time, often up to a minute. While this might not seem like much to many businesses, it’s an eternity with 911, as a dropped call, or the service being unavailable even for a few seconds, could mean the difference between life and death. What’s the Answer? A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) – at least one that offers technology for high reliability and high quality of experience (QoE) – is much better aligned to meet the needs of NG911. SD-WANs have seen significant uptake in general enterprises, however city organizations should be looking at SD-WAN as a way of improving services like 911. Below are the top ways that SD-WANs can improve NG911 services: More uptime. Legacy WANs were built on a concept of “active-passive” connectivity where the backup connection could only turn active if the primary failed. As noted above, the challenge is the length of time it takes to switch from the failed circuit to backup. SD-WANs operate in “active-active” mode where all circuits can send traffic all the time. If one circuit is unavailable or performing poorly, the packets that represent the call will be directed down better-performing connections. Through a combination of wired and wireless network types, 100 percent can be achieved; Better call quality. SD-WAN appliances constantly micromanage each packet through the network for latency, packet loss and jitter. If a circuit is experiencing congestion, 911 packets can be distributed across better-performing links. Some SD-WAN offerings can even replicate call flows on two different paths, using different WAN connections at each end, suppressing the duplicate packet at the other end. This ensures the highest levels of call quality all the time, regardless of network outages or even network congestion incidents causing high packet loss or jitter; End-to-end visibility.  Some of the SD-WAN vendors have integrated performance, fault and configuration management tools, which can make troubleshooting network problems much faster. Today, networks are built to be redundant enough that an actual outage is rare. The bigger problem is poor performance, which can be hard to identify as the network dashboards often show all nodes as “up” even if applications are performing poorly due to packet loss and/or jitter in the network.  An advanced, self-healing SD-WAN that does continuous unidirectional measurement of all traffic can even fix the problem, sub-second, so that end users and existing applications sessions and voice flows are not affected, allowing administrators more time to make sure the underlying network provider issue is addressed, since end users are not impacted. The end-to-end visibility can make troubleshooting much fasters.  Also, trending information can be used to predict when network connections will reach saturation and network teams and upgrade before there is a problem. NG911 services will be game changing for many communities as they promise to bring digital technologies to a service that is long overdue for an upgrade.  As IT leaders go through the planning phase, it’s important that the network be considered a key component of the infrastructure and modernized. Be sure to view The Economist Intelligence Report on the “Network Highway of Tomorrow,” here and read more SD-WAN blogs. Also check out the ZK Research home page, here.  

Most of the technology industry has evolved at a blistering pace over the past decade.  One area that has not kept pace is the 911 service on which most cities rely to provide emergency services to...

SD-WAN

Software-Defined Networks Crucial to Digital Transformation

Modernizing networks so that they flex with customers’ needs is critical to success for virtually every business focused on CX.  An article in SDX Central, “Why Is SDN Networking Important,” gets into the details of answering the question: Free of the constraints of big iron, what can SDN really do? For one, decoupling network functions from dedicated hardware and embedded software will make life a heck of a lot easier for network engineers and administrators, closing the traditional abyss that existed between requests to IT for functionality and actual utility by business users and end customers. Rather than 12- to 18-month lag times, their teams will move much faster on innovations around 5G, AI, IoT, and more—and all while slashing operating and capital costs. With SDN, companies have the chance to offer the type of customer-focused digital experience (DX) typical of webscale players, as well as the agility and flexibility to more rapidly adjust to changing business models. They also get self-configuration and self-healing capabilities so that networks can instantly respond to load and network conditions. That is very important in a right-now world in which networks are “mission critical” to the apps, security and overall business demand of employees, partners and customers. The ability for networks to be self-driving and self healing will be increasingly crucial, especially as organizations virtualize network functions and push the limits of their enterprise edges.  To learn more about the importance of SDN, be sure to read the Economist Intelligence Unit’s “The Network Highway of Tomorrow: Redefining Enterprise Networking,” and  the new report “5G Future: Targeting the Enterprise.” Check out how Oracle Communications can help modernize and secure your networks through SD-WAN and other solutions that drive transformation, and be sure to read my future blogs.  

Modernizing networks so that they flex with customers’ needs is critical to success for virtually every business focused on CX.  An article in SDX Central, “Why Is SDN Networking Important,” gets into...

SD-WAN

‘Own the Experience' with an App-Aware Network That Delivers QoE Every Time

IDC estimates that 40 percent of all technology spending will go toward digital transformations, with enterprises spending in excess of $2 trillion by 2019. As we see more of our customers going digital and reaping the benefits, the focus on apps is only intensifying in what is becoming an always-on, always-connected world. Businesses must go beyond providing just “access” to apps, and up the level of business productivity that customers, employees and partners expect in their always-on, always-connected world. This is particularly true as enterprise applications move to the cloud, where "owning the experience" will mean ensuring a perceptible boost to business productivity and ensuring premium QoE for business-critical apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, NetSuite and others. For that to happen, there must be a transformation in the way apps are delivered across traditional networks like MPLS, Internet. They have to: Be application aware—the network knows how to manage application traffic; Satisfy business policy—know the difference between real-time apps and background tasks; Meet service level agreements (SLAs)—where business requirements are not impeded by network limitations, and applications work the way they are supposed to, every time! CIOs, CTOs and IT teams know all too well what “business critical” means when a financial institution’s branch access goes down, or a hospital’s communication system gets compromised. Failure is as much about the network as it is the application for their IT teams managing compliance, security risks, operational complexity and communications overload. The chaos they manage continues to grow in an increasingly public-cloud-driven world where Real Time Communications (RTC) and enterprise applications are migrating. Data will no longer be confined within the walls of the enterprise, but rather pushed to and through clouds and out to devices at the network edge. With data to manage across multiple clouds (Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Cloud, Amazon Cloud, Genesys Cloud, and many more), the need to have a network focused on availability, security and reliability has risen in importance for any apps considered “business critical” in a continuously connected world. To find out how business-critical apps run faster, smarter and securely on SD-WAN, visit our SD-WAN site. Also be sure to check back in the SD-WAN portion of our blog and subscribe today to receive all of our posts via email.  

IDC estimates that 40 percent of all technology spending will go toward digital transformations, with enterprises spending in excess of $2 trillion by 2019. As we see more of our customers going...

Digital Experience

CSPs Can Become the Centerpiece of Digital Business Experience

During the Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit last month, Chetan Sharma distributed his latest book Connected Intelligence 2030, in which Oracle bylines a chapter on cloud-based digital marketplaces and the foundational ingredients needed for real disruption and innovation, including: A community of participants with rich capabilities that jointly create value, innovate, and share risks and rewards; Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and software-defined infrastructure that will provide the scale, speed, security and intelligence needed to succeed; Digital marketplaces as a platform for shared digital service offerings. In “Thriving in 2030: Cloud-Based Digital Marketplaces are the Future for CSPs,” see how digital disruptors like eBay, Airbnb, Mitsubishi Electric and others cracked open the door to innovation and how CSP forerunners like Verizon, Orange, NTT DoCoMo and AT&T may swing it wide open with digitally driven business models focused on personalized, intelligent and intuitive services for both enterprises and consumers. Learn how cloud-based ecosystems will foster seamless engagements across multiple channels and make the most of real-time actionable AI-driven insights across the customer experience – from engagement, to acquisition, to fulfillment to empowerment. Download the book chapter here and read more about 5G-, cloud-driven marketplaces in this blog by our SVP and GM Jason Rutherford. Also be sure to visit Oracle Communications and subscribe to the Oracle Communications Blog for further industry insights.  

During the Mobile Future Forward Executive Summit last month, Chetan Sharma distributed his latest book Connected Intelligence 2030, in which Oracle bylines a chapter on cloud-based digital...

SD-WAN

‘Choice Overload’ Hinders SD-WAN Purchase Decisions: 6 Questions + 1 to Ask

When I recently re-read the Gartner ‘6 Critical Questions to Ask on SD-WAN’ report, I was struck by the fact that there are more than 40 SD-WAN vendors. I have even heard there are up to 70 vendors that claim to do SD-WAN. No organization is going to evaluate all 40, let alone 70+, so narrowing a search to a leaders quadrant for something nascent like SD-WAN leaves companies vulnerable to what is known in Behavioral Science as “Choice Overload,” which states that humans cannot even contemplate so many options. Also known as “Overchoice” or “The Paradox of Choice,” the concept is primarily used to talk about consumers. Think of the cereal aisle in the supermarket. Or just Google ‘Coffee Maker’ and you will get more than 300 million results. Tests show that with too many options, people often walk away without making a decision. I believe that is where the ‘6 Critical Questions’ from Gartner can help (+1, below): 1. What is SD-WAN? 2. Is SD-WAN ready for production deployment? 3. Can I eliminate my legacy WAN circuits (i.e., Multiprotocol Label Switching [MPLS]) with SD-WAN? 4. Will SD-WAN save my organization money? 5. What are the security implications of SD-WAN? 6. Should we deploy SD-WAN internally (DIY) or leverage a managed network service (MNS)?” All of these are important questions and are valuable when looking at the crowded SD-WAN landscape, but they largely address the SD-WAN industry, not your business, which is why I would encourage you to add one more question to the mix: 7. What is the Quality of Experience (QoE) that my users expect from their applications, and how can I ensure high QoE as my application traffic migrates to Internet connections and the cloud? This is a very important question to ask. Business-critical applications abound, and while they vary based on industry and corporate function, the one thing they share in common is the need to be available and work well all the time. Are you delivering packages that need to be tracked via a mobile device? Quarter end brings high demand to finance and sales applications. Teams divided by oceans and continents need to communicate. SD-WAN solutions must deliver on the expectations of the application users. They need to deliver high, predictable application performance even as the network moves from a purely private, expensive, low-bandwidth MPLS WAN with applications primarily hosted at the corporate data center, to one where multiple high-bandwidth, inexpensive but imperfect Internet connections are used, and where more and more applications are in the cloud. To do this, SD-WAN solutions must offer more than simply better network management tools and branch office simplification. They must be self-driving and self-healing, continuously measuring what’s going on across the multi-network fabric, making per-packet forwarding decisions and reacting sub-second to problems on any network, using the network connections that are working well now, while mitigating against packet loss and jitter, and allowing your most important traffic to get to its destination swiftly and reliably. This is how you deliver the QoE that users expect and WAN managers need. With these seven questions, you should be able to narrow your choices to a more manageable number. Too many options are a sand pit that you could inevitably be drawn into, while limiting your search to just one or two vendors for ease of evaluation risks falling into the abyss of cloud migration failure, higher rather than lower IT troubleshooting burdens and endless user complaints. Avoid both of these pitfalls. Use these 6 + 1 questions to guide you to the SD-WAN vendors you need to evaluate. See Gartner’s “ 6 Critical Questions to Ask on SD-WAN” by Mike Toussaint, Andrew Lerner, and Ted Corbett, 6 June 2018. Disclaimer: Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Learn more in our SD-WAN overview and SD-WAN blogs here.  

When I recently re-read the Gartner ‘6 Critical Questions to Ask on SD-WAN’ report, I was struck by the fact that there are more than 40 SD-WAN vendors. I have even heard there are up to 70 vendors...

SD-WAN

Arlington Elevates QoE in B2B eCommerce and Call Center Operations

B2B supplier Arlington prides itself on providing its resellers a superior distributor experience, with unprecedented service, selection, support, and solutions. As a large distributor of office products and supplies, Arlington’s focus took on heightened importance as the company began to rapidly grow and expand. With eight North American locations serving more than 10,000 active businesses, and an extended family through its Carolina Wholesale and Digitek operations, the organization had to find a way to reduce costs and simplify the management of its diverse WAN array of MPLS, managed services and corporate broadband links. As it had seen happen with other businesses, Arlington realized the dire consequences an enterprise can suffer if performance and CX-related issues go unaddressed, such as: poor network uptime, call center agent downtime, incomplete file transfers, sluggish network file access performance and increasingly frequent network “brownouts.” To proactively address any deterioration in quality of experience (QoE) for its customers, the company set out to: Implement better WAN reliability Simplify network management Create higher-quality contact center interactions to capture e-commerce growth opportunity But as so many businesses find out, sometimes even the best laid plans must be adjusted. In the case of Arlington, the choice to go with a competitive SD-WAN offering from a leading security provider ended up failing to deliver a truly reliable WAN. After evaluating the problem, it was determined the session-based approach was leading to too many problems, such as cumbersome configuration, limited quality-of-service (QoS) support, lack of sophisticated measurement or per-packet forwarding abilities, sluggish ERP application performance and limited support for real-time traffic. Even legacy terminal servers and CRM applications were subject to poor WAN performance, with downtime costing Arlington operations potentially millions-of-dollars weekly. A Unified, Highly Available WAN Approach In its quest to offer customers a failsafe eCommerce B2B supply operation, Arlington turned to its managed services partner Vision96, an expert at deploying multi-site virtual private networks (VPNs) and MPLS for high availability. Together, the two firms blueprinted a digital transformation network of the future, including a hybrid WAN for advanced branch office communications. The network reengineering began with Oracle’s failsafe SD-WAN, which boasted continuous unidirectional measurement and sub-second response to network incidents for high multi-cloud QoE performance in domestic and overseas business applications, such as CRM and ERP. Additionally, Oracle’s SD-WAN offered highly granular visibility into network and application performance, which has translated into "platinum-quality” support for loss- and latency-sensitive SIP-based call center applications. To find out more about boosting QoS, application performance and support for real-time traffic, contact our team and read other SD-WAN customer success stories here. Also consider accessing the following top SD-WAN assets: Gartner Analyst Paper: Six Critical Questions to ask on SD-WAN Solution Brief: Intelligent WAN Edge Solution Brief Continuous Unidirectional SD-WAN Intelligence Video: Intelligent WAN Edge in Action You can also find more SD-WAN posts here.

B2B supplier Arlington prides itself on providing its resellers a superior distributor experience, with unprecedented service, selection, support, and solutions. As a large distributor of office...

5G

Empowering CSPs to Get the Most Out of Cloud

As powerful as they are, operators can no longer go it alone. They must collaborate with 3rd parties and expand their focus to include not only consumers, but also the future of the enterprise. They must figure out how to compete against, partner with or enable Webscale companies that pose the biggest competitive threats…or opportunities. The good news is that with cloud comes adaptability—and with cloud native comes the agility of network functions needed to make the most of 5G and all that comes with it in terms of IoT, autonomous, smart cities, and more.   Furthermore, network slicing and edge computing will trigger a broad range of dedicated network and service capabilities that CSPs will be able to offer to enterprises as they race to capitalize on 5G’s speed and reliability. Most likely this will happen through digital marketplaces, where relationships can flourish among all stakeholders in the value chain. These B2B marketplaces will be ripe for communications-infused digital enablement, as well as protection from growing security, fraud and privacy risks. For CSPs, the cloud and the complement of mobility and analytics will empower them to move up the value chain. To find out more about how we are helping operators evolve their networks for this next “G”, visit Oracle Communications.   Subscribe to the Oracle Communications Blog and see more thought leadership here.  

As powerful as they are, operators can no longer go it alone. They must collaborate with 3rd parties and expand their focus to include not only consumers, but also the future of the enterprise. They...

SD-WAN

Drive Automated Intelligence into Enterprise Networks with SD-WAN

In the recent report “The Network Highway of Tomorrow—Redefining Enterprise Networking,” the Economist Intelligence Unit explores how digital transformation is a major focus for all enterprises that want high-performing applications and ubiquitous connectivity, whether in their organizations' employee infrastructure, or outside their organization with end customers and partners.   An always-connected world requires enterprises reimagine their networks and leverage a modern approach. In the report, visionaries like ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala, Nemertes’ founder Johna Till Johnson and Standard Chartered global head of network services Richard Christopher, discuss how cloud, virtualization, ML and AI can help CTOs, CIOs and IT securely and efficiently deliver next-gen connectivity and performance to both end users and applications. With literally trillions-of-dollars at stake, network performance for business-critical applications has never been more important. Oracle Communications: Driving Automated Intelligence with SD-WAN In a highly digitized world, the network needs to act as a self-driving car for the enterprise—dynamically reacting to traffic congestion in the same way a driver in a car reacts in real time to pedestrians, potholes, ice and other obstacles to ensure the car safely stays on course. When applications encounter digital congestion in the form of latency, jitter and packet loss, the self-driving network needs to do the same, rerouting traffic so that data gets to its intended destination, on time and without impact to the application and quality of experience (QoE). Where it used to be a single application running on a centralized computer, today’s applications require sophisticated orchestration among networks, services, devices and users. Like an autonomous car that ultimately can react, in fractions of a second, the self-driving WAN must be app-aware and deliver data where it needs to go, and with the highest level of QoE. For network administrators striving to have self-configuring and self-correcting network capabilities, SD-WAN is the technology of choice. Companies large and small across all verticals are adapting to a shifting enterprise edge that continues to get extended through distributed  data centers, cloud applications, and an expanding number of wireless devices. Ensuring your network can seamlessly deliver data across clouds, to branch offices, and to every type of user will be increasingly important. Like the burden on local roads when the number of cars explodes in a growing city, the burden on networks can be overwhelming, especially when trying to decipher regular traffic from priority traffic. To learn about automatic configuration and troubleshooting through the self-driving, app-aware SD-WAN, read the report’s page-8 inset, “Steering Toward Self-Driving Wide Area Networks.” Also be sure to read Andy Gottleib’s blog “Choosing the Right SD-WAN for Multi-Cloud Enterprise Success” and see “The Right SD-WAN Delivers Risk-Free, Reliable Multi-Cloud Migration.” For more information, visit our Industry Solutions pages: SD-WAN Solution for Financial Services SD-WAN Solution for Manufacturing SD-WAN Solution for Professional Services: Legal SD-WAN Solution for Public Sector: Metro 911 Networks Subscribe to the Oracle Communications Blog and learn about Oracle Communications solutions here.  

In the recent report “The Network Highway of Tomorrow—Redefining Enterprise Networking,” the Economist Intelligence Unit explores how digital transformation is a major focus for all enterprises that...

5G

The Time is Now for 5G, Cloud-Driven Digital Marketplaces

In the 4G era, communications service providers (CSPs) focused on integrated communications and digital services, but the 5G era will be all about B2B and B2B2C digital marketplaces. According to the World Economic Forum, these rich ecosystems could generate as much as $100 Trillion in combined value across industries in the next 10 years, and a recent TM Forum survey revealed that in the next five to 10 years, the majority of respondents expect to generate more than 50 percent of their revenue from B2B. These ecosystems will include, among other things: Applications tailored to specific industry verticals like financial services, utilities, transportation, healthcare, hospitality and retail; Identity services to help enterprises securely verify and manage the identities of their end customers; IT tools, including APIs, data, and other tools that make it easier for enterprises to develop their own applications, run websites and engage with their end customers. By applying Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business models, CSPs can help enterprises give customers what they want in terms of ease of use and the ability to tap into a larger universe of services. Enterprises will be motivated to leverage marketplaces, as they present the most cost-efficient way to leverage 5G and Cloud and all that comes with them, such as AI, IoT, automation and mobile broadband. No one in the value chain is better positioned to play a central role in these digital marketplaces than CSPs, as they have: Networks to connect people, devices and applications; QoE-guaranteed connectivity for network-assured services; Experience in operating and managing complex services; Large and loyal customer bases; Highly Secure, scalable, and trusted platforms for activation, billing, and customer care; Customer databases that store and analyze vast amounts of data – network/customer/device; The ability to provide robust and secure identity management. With these advantages, service providers can play the roles of orchestrators, commerce brokers, partners and enablers. By combining network slices, Cloud and SaaS applications, CSPs will be well positioned to deliver unique communications and partner services that leverage highly secure customer data, AI-driven connected intelligence, and IoT-driven use cases. Critical requirements for marketplace success will revolve around monetization, zero-touch partnering, community management, CX and security as well as transformational technologies like AI, ML, autonomous databases and Blockchain. To help our customers as they begin to enable these digital marketplaces, we have introduced our Digital Experience for Communications platform, which is designed to be  the optimal application architecture for supporting all aspects of the customer journey—from understanding customers’ unique digital behaviors and preferences, to launching AI-driven enterprise catalogs of first- and third-party offers, to orchestrating and monetizing services and collecting the revenues. The time is now, as the “Experience Economy” is upon us and this is a defining moment for CSPs to capture the digital marketplace opportunity and unlock the value from their 5G and cloud investments.    Want to dive deeper?  Read more about Digital Experience for Communications and the Digital Business Experience to see how we are enabling digital transformation for our customers. Subscribe to the Oracle Communications Blog and learn about Oracle Communications here.    

In the 4G era, communications service providers (CSPs) focused on integrated communications and digital services, but the 5G era will be all about B2B and B2B2C digital marketplaces. According to the...

Security

Addressing Security in Today’s Networks and Enterprises – Strategies and Tactics

The world of Cybersecurity is dynamic, requiring CTOs, CISOs and everyone responsible for security to be vigilant in addressing the ever-changing security threat landscape. Adding to the challenge, and increasing risk for everyone, is the industry’s rush to apply technology for technology’s sake without careful consideration of the broad security implications. The “wow-factor” of the technology quickly gives way to “what now?!!” when security weaknesses are exploited, as when unpatched connected devices are maliciously repurposed to carry distributed denial of service (DoS) attacks.   Additionally, the software supply chain continues to become more complex, with many of today’s advanced software systems increasingly including 3rd-party open source software that is “assembled” as opposed to organically “written.” That shift in software development requires that proper rigor be applied to the supply chain, and that software developers become builders and architects as opposed to just coders. As indicated by catch-phrases such as shift-left, security must be considered earlier in the development cycle, and organizations must embrace processes that are understandable and repeatably executable. In other words, rather than continue doing what’s comfortable, they must do what produces measurable results, and adjust as necessary. That may require wholesale change, but security can be built in. Security can no longer be overlooked or diminished, especially as data protection in the cloud and on premise grows in importance. Foundational strategies and tactics will be important to any strong security program. Some recommendations include: Being intentional about designing security into every solution from the outset Adopting secure coding standards Implementing sound, static and dynamic testing and analysis techniques Integrating proven tools into a modern software delivery chain Providing mechanisms for the security maintenance of products throughout their lifecycle (“patchability”) CTOs and CISOs should also consider their organizational structure and dynamics so that security is prioritized from top to bottom. While roles can vary, and titles can change, all people in an organization must be empowered and accountable for security, with checks and balances built into practical governance models.   As foundational security strategies and tactics evolve, and as organizational structure takes form, those in charge of securing data, networks and supply chains must also seriously consider the security assurance practices of their technology suppliers. Enter Oracle Security and Assurance Oracle’s robust security policies and practices permeate every aspect of hardware, software, products, supply chains, source code, suppliers and partners. For example, the product development lifecycle is shaped by Oracle Software Security Assurance (OSSA), which governs the design, build, testing, and maintenance of product security for all products —whether used on-prem by customers, or delivered through Oracle Cloud. A rather unique factor of OSSA is its Architectural Risk Analysis (ARA), which helps reinforce “secure by design” and “secure by default” principles by driving threat modeling into an architectural level design and review process.  During the ARA process, critical service and data assets can be identified, data flows assessed, trust boundaries defined, attack surfaces revealed, and threats documented. Security controls can then be applied to address all risks and testing strategies identified to verify countermeasures are adequate. The ARA becomes a component of the internal design documentation set and is maintained and reassessed release-over-release.  Oracle also has a robust Supply Chain Security and Assurance program that includes formal policies and procedures for controlling how third-party hardware, software and technology can be embedded in products, as well as corporate and cloud environments. These extensive security practices reach into the procurement, engineering, development and maintenance of Oracle-engineered hardware and third-party hardware, also affecting software code that is embedded or configured in hardware used for Oracle Cloud or other Oracle products.   To learn more, subscribe to our Security blog, and get an overview of Oracle’s corporate security from Oracle’s Chief Security Officer. Also read about Oracle’s corporate security practices, which encompass Oracle Software Security Assurance, as well as other security programs, for the protection of Oracle’s systems, Oracle Clouds, the secure delivery of consulting services, and Oracle’s Global Customer Support. Subscribe to the Oracle Communications Blog and learn about Oracle Communications here.      

The world of Cybersecurity is dynamic, requiring CTOs, CISOs and everyone responsible for security to be vigilant in addressing the ever-changing security threat landscape. Adding to the challenge,...

SD-WAN

Self-Driving WANs: Four Best Ways to Achieve Intent-based Networking Today

Analysts are touting it. Partners are eager to offer it. Customers are interested in it. Vendors are talking up the possibilities of it. What is it? It’s Intent-based Networking, and Oracle SD-WAN is already blazing the trail by delivering today what other vendors are promising for the future. Grab a seat in the new self-driving WAN to find out how. Most current SD-WAN solutions force network administrators to map application flows to preferred networks. In contrast, an Oracle SD-WAN delivers on the promise of Intent-based Networking by allowing network administrators to set high-level application policies, with the SD-WAN technology delivering traffic to its destination reliably and with an elevated QoE based on the state of all the network connections right now. The current state of the WAN — versus any user’s service level preconceptions — determines the best network connection and accordingly the ideal user experience. With an Oracle SD-WAN, network administrators are also not forced to set thresholds (guessing at settings) about when to move traffic off a problematic connection, which can lead systems to take seconds or even minutes to react to network problems. Instead the self-driving, self-healing Oracle SD-WAN engine applies intelligence to make per-packet forwarding decisions and react sub-second to problems detected. Below are the top-four requirements that can make Intent-based Networking real and useful: Continuous unidirectional measurement of all traffic - Continuous measurement improves the accuracy and timeliness of detecting problems. Unidirectional measurement is important because traffic jams usually occur in one direction, not the other. For real-time traffic like VoIP and videoconferencing, the unidirectional performance is what’s most relevant; Measurement of all possible paths between any pair of locations - The Internet is a network of networks. With multiple Internet connections, there is more than one network path possible for each WAN link. MPLS usually offers multiple paths for the multiple Classes of Service (CoS) purchased. A good SD-WAN solution takes full advantage of all these paths to deliver optimal QoE. This approach carefully considers business policy intent, getting important traffic to the other end of the WAN quickly and reliably, and even using all WAN bandwidth between locations for a single flow; Avoid SD-WAN thresholding -The fractal nature of congestion-based loss makes setting meaningful thresholds impossible. Thresholding is comparable to placing a 1950s crank engine into a modern self-driving car. Congestion-based loss on shared IP networks is unpredictable in duration, and so thresholding is a poor way to detect when a WAN thruway is no longer reliable. The weakness is amplified if the SD-WAN lacks a continuous unidirectional measurement scheme like the one present in Oracle’s Failsafe SD-WAN; Demand proprietary network path heuristics -This close cousin of self-discovery is often a co-pilot in the self-driving WAN. Heuristics intelligently watch when a “good” WAN road has gone “dead” (relatively easy to detect) or is now “bad” (much harder to determine). Oracle’s approach clearly marks “bad” WAN connections and ensures customers avoid these often-temporarily hazardous roads until the danger is gone, unless no other “good” roads are available. By meeting these requirements, Intent-based Networking can become a reality today, empowering IT administrators to gain high QoE while setting high-level policies, rather than being required to map applications to networks and fiddle with impossible-to-set thresholds. To learn more, visit these top SD-WAN assets: Case Study Video: Six Customers Share their SD-WAN Success Story Solution Brief: Intelligent WAN Edge Solution Brief Continuous Unidirectional SD-WAN Intelligence Video: Intelligent WAN Edge in Action Get additional information about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs by contacting our team  and visiting our home page. Also be sure to subscribe to Oracle Communications blog to receive more on SD-WAN.  

Analysts are touting it. Partners are eager to offer it. Customers are interested in it. Vendors are talking up the possibilities of it. What is it? It’s Intent-based Networking, and Oracle SD-WANis...

Community

New SVPs Jason Rutherford and Andrew Morawski to Lead Oracle Communications

As the Communications industry continues to transform in emerging digital B2B2C marketplaces powered by the Cloud and 5G, Oracle is dedicated to providing the technology and infrastructure to help communications service providers and enterprises take advantage of the opportunities ahead. As part of that commitment, Oracle is excited to announce the appointment of two new leaders in its Communications vertical: Andrew Morawski, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Communications - Networks business and Jason Rutherford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Communications – Applications business. Each will be responsible for the strategy, enablement, development, sales, service, and support for their respective global business units. Jason Rutherford, who is returning to Oracle Communications after two years as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for KORE Telematics, brings years of experience in the B/OSS space as a previous Group Vice President, Global Sales, Oracle Communications, and as a senior leader in sales, pre-sales, alliances and consulting at Convergys and Accenture. Rutherford will focus on Oracle’s Digital Experience for Communications and its B/OSS portfolio. “Oracle’s breadth and depth of communications industry solutions is unmatched, serving a strong community of globally recognized operators” said Rutherford. “I’m thrilled to be back with this team and look forward to continuing the momentum in helping our customers thrive in the digital experience economy.” Andrew Morawski brings a wealth of experience in the industry, having served most recently as Vodafone America’s President and Country Chairman. His previous experience also includes roles as President and CEO of Telstra, Americas, and as Managing Director, Cable & Wireless, Americas, as well as in senior management at Nortel. Morawski will focus on Oracle’s network infrastructure portfolio for CSPs and enterprises. “Oracle continues to drive innovation as this next generation of connectivity rolls out,” said Morawski. “I’m impressed by the deep domain expertise of the talent within Oracle Communications and look forward to continuing our heritage of helping both operators and enterprises build, secure and optimize their networks for the future.” To meet both new executives, visit us at Oracle OpenWorld, September 16-19.  Learn more about how Oracle is powering digital transformation in the communications industry, with sessions and demonstrations spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization, modern orchestration, SD-WAN and 5G. Also check out other Oracle Communications blogs and subscribe.  

As the Communications industry continues to transform in emerging digital B2B2C marketplaces powered by the Cloud and 5G, Oracle is dedicated to providing the technology and infrastructure to help...

Monetization/Orchestration

‘Up Your Game’ with Oracle OpenWorld Communications All-Star Lineup!

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 will feature an all-star lineup of sessions showcasing our applications for the communications industry, spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization, modern orchestration, and 5G. The event will put the spotlight on digital consumers, who in the “experience economy” expect simplicity, visual engagement and personalization as they go from consideration to purchase to consumption to payment and support. To help you navigate the many communications industry-focused sessions and demos, we have put together a detailed “Focus on Communications’ Program Guide to help you optimize the time you have at the event. Below is a sneak peek of some “don’t-miss” options: Day one kicks off with “Thriving in New Digital Marketplaces” [GEN6150], a keynote and fireside chats with industry visionaries Sven Friedli, Swisscom’s Head of Architecture Management & Technology Transformation; Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum; and Andrea Cesarini, Managing Director, Accenture. These industry experts will look at trends in the market for digital services and what to expect with 5G, AI-powered digital experiences (DX), open APIs, cloud native architecture, automation and zero touch partner interaction, not to mention the robust tools needed to orchestrate and monetize digital marketplaces at scale.  “Unleash Your Digital Experience – to Transform, Disrupt and Thrive-Swisscom” [PAN6139] will examine how data with AI will rule, and how Oracle Communications is collaborating with leading CSPs to manage and migrate customer data for superior engagement, ordering, and care processes. If going fully digital interests you, be sure to attend “Disrupt or Be Disrupted: Becoming a Next-Gen Digital Service Provider” [PAN6259], which examines software-defined cloud native infrastructure, DevOps culture, and the ways in which 5G and DX will combine to accelerate the digital transformation journey. Also take a look at our customer case-studies, such as: “Tech and Media Monetization Case Studies” [PAN6147], a discussion featuring Dell Digital , INAP and Globo, who will examine tech and media monetization stories that demonstrate true disruption and innovation; And “Innovations in Subscription-Based Data Monetization” (CAS6311), which will reveal how Equifax monetized an array of data using subscription-based pricing, layered with customer-centric monetization levers in a simplified catalog. As with the companies highlighted in our case studies, thought leaders’  IT budgets are increasingly earmarked for digital transformation to further cultivate digital competencies and make product and service delivery faster and more agile. This will require that web-scale IT principles combine with communications technology. That is the focus of “5G Now or Never Moment for CSPs: Is Your IT Ready? [PAN6141], an exploration of the once-in-a-generation chance to establish a central position in the 5G value chain, and the transformative aspects of cloud native that will help you rethink your current operation. If deeper customer relevance is appealing to you, learn about providing a persona-based user experience for offers that include music, video, and an IoT-based digital assistant. “AI-Driven Communications Catalog to Create Relevant Digital Services” [PAN6146] is a panel discussion about how Oracle’s AI-driven enterprise catalog for communications (part of the Digital Experience of Communications solution), which can help providers easily configure pricing and promotions for various fulfillment paths from one central platform. “Digital Experience CX for Communications and Media Industries” [CON5717] will explore how Oracle has invested in a completely new approach to the CRM landscape, building on the pedigree of 600+ CRM and 1000+ Cloud implementations in the communications and media industry worldwide. Whether you are looking to upgrade, augment or replace your existing applications and technologies, you should hear how Oracle has developed the next generation Digital Experience capabilities. To see how all these principles can be put into practices, visit these demos showcasing 5G, DX, Monetization and Orchestration capabilities: Media and Entertainment Industry Solutions: Innovate, Delight, Transform Digital Experience for Comms: Digital Convergence and Monetizing Location Services Data-Driven Innovations for the Communications Industry Monetizing Mobile Services for Digital Operators Launching Smart City, 5G and IoT Services Enabling the Digital Marketplace At Oracle OpenWorld, these focused sessions, speakers and demos will help you better grasp what’s unique about digital behavior and preferences, and how AI and other transformational technologies will help you rapidly build first- and third-party offers personalized to customers. For more information about accelerating digital transformation, visit Oracle Communications, and register here for Oracle OpenWorld.  The complete Oracle Communications Program Guide is available here. Also check out other Oracle Communications blogs and subscribe.  

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 will feature an all-star lineup of sessions showcasing our applications for the communications industry, spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization,...

Community

Empowering Partners to Build Out Specialized Expertise Is Key to Sales Success

We recognize that our partners realize greater margins and revenues if they offer more services to their customers than just product resale. Our experience says that approximately 70 percent of partner revenue comes from services delivered around products, and so it becomes mutually beneficial for Oracle and our partners to focus where the margins are higher. To cultivate our partners’ ability to increase revenues and keep customers happy, we have developed one of the most comprehensive partner programs in the Communications industry, with a focus on developing partner expertise. We have invested in very clearly defined best-in-class Oracle Partner Network (OPN) enablement programs that elevate partners, making them implementation and managed-service “experts” in Oracle solutions. In fact, they get the same training as those offered to our internal sales, presales and consulting experts. That means customers can be confident when they buy and deploy with an Oracle specialized partner that they are getting the highest degree of competency and support. Over the past seven years, partner training and expertise has grown significantly, with more than 1,000 certified partner specialists delivering implementations and managed services around Oracle Applications and Network products. Together with Level-1 and Level-2 specialists, Oracle Communications can boast more than 10,000 partner specialists across approximately 100 companies. For partners, the benefits are substantial. They not only differentiate themselves from other partners in the market, but the specialization and training helps them optimize their business models and improve revenues and margins (see sidebar “What Oracle Partner Network Specialists Have to Say"). Our partners value Oracle Communications’ enablement training so highly that they make the significant investment to send their professionals to week-long trainings. The tangible and intangible benefits build over time through the enablement process. For Oracle Sales teams – they are more confident recommending specialized partners to our customers to ensure customer and project success. To learn more about partner enablement, attend Oracle OpenWorld, where Oracle Communications will host partner-specific sessions to help companies expand their contact lists and resources. Also feel free to contact us for more information about the Oracle Partner Network, here. Subscribe to the Oracle Communications blog and visit Oracle Communications to learn more about our products and services.

We recognize that our partners realize greater margins and revenues if they offer more services to their customers than just product resale. Our experience says that approximately 70 percent of...

SD-WAN

Contact Centers Connect with SD-WANs To Improve Reliability and Customer Experience

Single-location contact and call center of years past had little need for Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. But today’s widely distributed global call and contact center leaders depend on SD-WANs to ensure that Unified Communications (UC) efficiencies are carried across customer service, technical support, and outgoing call banks across multiple locations. The right SD-WAN solution improves UC reliability and customer experience. Contact centers often count on customer experience benefits from SD-WANs and Session Border Controller solutions to power differentiation via tiered services, intelligent automation of call distributors, and enhanced reliability and predictability of networks. The solutions enable: High degree of CCaaS operator secure service differentiation; Ability to deliver tiered service (platinum, gold, silver) to different customers; CCaaS capabilities that meet or exceed unique Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) needs relevant to their customers’ industries and to end customers using failsafe SD-WAN innovation. A failsafe SD-WAN inoculates CCaaS operators from issues arising from how well or poorly any underlying wide area network (WAN) connection is performing. The fact that multi-location CCaaS operators already have multiple WAN links at each location make them particularly fertile ground for SD-WAN deployments. Telephony systems' automated call distributors (ACDs) benefit from SD-WAN to securely distribute calls among agents based on system capacity, global geographies, human availability, agent skill sets, etc. For UC real-time applications like VoIP and videoconferencing, SD-WAN technology helps ACDs deliver best-in-class reliability and predictability by choosing network paths with the least amount of packet loss and lowest jitter, and switching sub-second to a better path in the face of high loss or jitter, and even optionally replicating real-time packet flows for the highest levels of call quality. Note that for UC, CCaaS and VoIP, simple roundtrip measurements of network latency and loss are insufficient to make appropriate forwarding decisions. More than for other applications, one-way measurement of network performance is essential here. Benefits of Centralized SD-WAN Orchestration SD-WAN solutions centralize and ease configuration and ongoing WAN management. This ensures IT gains a far simpler and more scalable approach, in contrast to constantly fiddling with router settings or being at the mercy of separate MPLS providers. And the self-driving nature of smart SD-WAN solutions lowers OpEx costs and increases reliability still further, fixing network problems as they occur rather than simply reporting them. A failsafe SD-WAN solution further allows the contact center operator to cap spending on expensive MPLS connections while augmenting them with lower cost, high bandwidth Internet circuits. Given that the cost per bit of data center MPLS bandwidth is anywhere from 10x to 100x the cost of Internet bandwidth, the ability to have even a portion of a global contact center operation’s WAN needs handled with Internet connections rather than MPLS results in substantial savings and operational efficiencies. If you are interested in learning more about Oracle's SD-WAN offerings, please visit our home page. You can also contact the team here to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs. Also consider accessing these top SD-WAN assets: Webcast: Listen to how SD-WAN improves a customer’s UCaaS and CCaaS Offerings Whitepaper: SD-WANs for Contact Centers Case Study: Learn how a Chemical company compounds cost savings with their Oracle Failsafe SD-WAN Read more SD-WAN blogs here, and subscribe today!

Single-location contact and call center of years past had little need for Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. But today’s widely distributed global call and contact center leaders depend...

5G

As Operators Set Their Sights on the Enterprise, ‘Slicing’ Becomes More Attractive

During the 5G World event in London a few weeks ago, much of the talk was about how to go after the enterprise. CTOs and other executives were discussing how they could give the enterprise the control they so desperately wanted over their policies and the QoS they offer employees. For example, Ovum’s Dario Talmesio commented during one of the keynotes that CSPs need to better understand different Industry verticals in order to close the gap between traditional telecom (e.g. connectivity) and industry-specific 5G value-added services they want to offer. Another example emerged when SK Telecom illustrated how 5G would possibly be applied to Industry 4.0, as with monitoring manufacturing plants in Quality Assurance processes that use advances in image recognition. So even in instances where Operators are conflicted about moving to a consumption-based model, it is clear they have tired of the “build-it-and-they-will-come” paradigm in which they have to spend heavily on infrastructure in the hopes of later recouping the cost. The problem is that Wall Street continues to measure them on CAPEX, when they would really prefer to move to an OPEX model. They have to face the challenge of how to change existing market perceptions so that they can ultimately sell subscription-based services—building some portions of their networks, and outsourcing others so they are no longer handcuffed by giant, un-customizable networks. Enter Network Slicing Those pain points brought network slicing front and center in the event’s tracks, sessions and workshops, which explored models for differentiation based on the ability to customize networks to different performance SLAs and QoS parameters (e.g., latency, throughput, etc.), all of which can be priced and monetized in different ways. The GSMA has estimated that network slicing could open up $300 Billion in revenue opportunities for operators by 2025. With that potential, it’s easy to see why mobile network operators would consider partitioning their virtualized physical networks into multiple logical network “slices,” helping them create a universe of diverse services tailored to different businesses’ needs and demands around IoT, autonomous vehicles, mobile broadband, etc. As the industry continues its work on 3GPP standards, companies like AT&T, Verizon and others are aggressively laying the groundwork for “slicing” by cloudifying and keeping an eye toward transforming their core networks. As the core moves to cloud, different migration paths will likely become possible with 5G (EPC or 5G SA, NSA). As these changes take form, enterprises will be able to readily apply policies and give businesses control over devices. For example, at the show, Bosch UK demonstrated how it is possible to monitor devices and reduce unnecessary production stops for maintenance by using Production Line monitoring, as well as AI/ML to predict when a Production Line component is approaching its limits so that “needed-versus-scheduled” maintenance can be applied. Never before have companies across all industries needed these types of capabilities more than now, with more devices, more things, and more threats coming onto networks around the globe. With slicing, it becomes feasible for service providers to configure network resources optimally, for many tenants in parallel. As they build out their own enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), they can pick slices from companies like Oracle to serve their business customers with different performance characteristics and policies, giving enterprises the control they really want. To learn more about 5G and network slicing, check out our on-demand webinar, “New Operating Models for Network Slicing” and our blogs  “Gone With One-Size-Fits-All Approach, In With Network Slicing,” and “Three ‘Best Practices’ for Building Out 4G and 5G Services as Cloud Native Evolves.” For more blogs on 5G and slicing, go here, and make sure to subscribe today.        

During the 5G World event in London a few weeks ago, much of the talk was about how to go after the enterprise. CTOs and other executives were discussing how they could give the enterprise the control...

SD-WAN

Four SD-WAN Industry Use Cases: Financial Services, e911, Professional Services & Manufacturing

There are dozens of industry use cases for SD-WAN, but four stand out as particularly noteworthy. Nearly every industry undertaking Digital Transformation through VoIP, UCaaS or CCaaS benefits from SD-WAN-derived cost-saving, simplification and streamlined IT management. They can also benefit from the improved reliability and user experience that only a failsafe SD-WAN solution can deliver. Let’s focus on the business operations for these four industries to detail similarities and differences of the impact of SD-WAN. Financial Services: Credit Unions and Banking Public Sector: Metro 911 Networks Professional Services: Legal Manufacturing Financial Services The financial services business embodies the phrase “time is money.” This increasingly competitive market shrinks time to provide customers with the best possible consumer experience. That experience requires real-time data as downtime equals lost business and customer churn.  Oracle’s SD-WAN application-fluent and failsafe network feature set benefits financial network operations with sub-second response to any network issues (not just link or device failures), ensuring uninterrupted service and unmatched Quality of Experience (QoE). SD-WAN also compounds WAN options by adding bandwidth to support new applications. Even if branch office MPLS connections go down, business continues uninterrupted thanks to failsafe SD-WAN innovations. “With Oracle Talari SD-WAN in place, access to data applications, voice sessions and the ATM were unaffected. In the past we would have been on the phone with our service provider, frantically trying to get the circuit back up. This time there was no emergency,” United Federal Credit Union. Public Sector/Emergency Services In our next industry, every day is about real emergencies. 911 first responder calls and first responder dispatch requests represent life and death. Failsafe SD-WAN use by Essex County Fire and Rescue ensures communications are real time, saving lives and defusing emergencies including fire, flooding and other natural or man-made disasters.  Oracle Talari SD-WAN appliances along with multiple 3G connections are part of the technology on emergency response vehicles. The failsafe SD-WAN technology intelligently manages connections based on instantaneous availability, QoS and costs of 3G and satellite connections. When communications are problematic on any wireless connection, the SD-WAN solution intelligently routes communications via the other available WAN connections. Professional/Legal After 100+ years of operation, Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP’s 400 lawyers and 300 staff depend on Oracle Talari SD-WAN to support major growth globally.  Reliable, high QoE connectivity is critical, allowing team collaboration through phone calls, videoconferencing, email and document sharing. Always available online client materials, case strategies and oral arguments preparatory material delivers a competitive edge.  Network outages are unacceptable as they could prevent legal teams from on-time filings and meeting client deadlines. “In our business, everything is an emergency for clients,” says John Carroll, Director of Technology Solutions at Taft. “Contracts must go out immediately. Settlements must be handled fast.  We needed a reliable network that keeps the workflows active, prevents dropped calls and provides 100-percent uptime with zero interruptions.” Taft’s initial SD-WAN vendor failed to prevent WAN downtime. The team selected Oracle Talari SD-WAN for failsafe WAN uptime and seamless application performance during carrier disruptions including not only hard outages but also network “brownouts” that would otherwise cause slow, unreliable user experience. Construction Here’s a rock-solid example of failsafe SD-WAN benefits.  Dayton Superior, a $400 million supplier of concrete construction supplies, builds the foundation of many world-class structures through concrete accessories, chemicals, forming and paving products. For widely distributed teams in the U.S., Canada, Panama, Colombia, China and Australia, Dayton had been operating an MPLS network with primary and secondary T1 circuits to each site plus data centers in Cincinnati and Dayton, OH. Secondary WAN connections were only used when the primary circuit failed. The team discovered it had missed the tremendous cost-savings benefits of SD-WAN. “We were wasting the bandwidth on the backup circuit,” says Dave Badgley, senior systems engineer at Dayton Superior. “We couldn’t use both network connections at the same time with our routers.” Using Oracle Talari SD-WAN, Dayton’s WAN ensures the best customer experience for critical applications, and all applications saw better performance thanks to the increased bandwidth.  Business-critical VoIP calls, ERP, sales transactions, and desktop virtualization are all assured network priority. Several similarities stand out across all four industries. All require real-time, high-availability communications.  Simplified WAN management and operations as well.  Differences appear in application latency sensitivity. The videoconferencing support critical in legal services is not always a requirement for Credit Unions and Banking. Similarly, sub-second response time for emergency 911 calls doesn’t neatly map to legal service operations. When failsafe SD-WAN features are available, nearly every business benefit through their use today and ability to reliably and cost-effectively grow tomorrow. If you are interested in learning more about Oracle's Talari SD-WAN offerings, please visit our home page. You can also contact the team here to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs.

There are dozens of industry use cases for SD-WAN, but four stand out as particularly noteworthy. Nearly every industry undertaking Digital Transformation through VoIP, UCaaS or CCaaS benefits...

Community

Women in Communications — Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?

Efforts to educate, upskill and re-skill to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformations are critical for women’s empowerment and well being, but also that of global health since advancing equality adds trillions to GDP and global economies. This was one issue I discussed with Shirin Esfandiari last month upon her return from The Big 5G Event and her participation in the Cloud track and related “Women in Telecommunications” workshop. It made me think about my own 20-year journey in telecoms and the acceleration of awareness and momentum in our industry. Communications is a microcosm of the global whole, and it is clear that many operators, vendors and industry organizations are working to understand and lift any barriers blocking pathways for women. Diversity and inclusion have become a major focal point for most operators, with Verizon, AT&T and others magnifying their own efforts, and even seeking out suppliers and partners that are working toward similar goals. Oracle, for example, has stepped up initiatives to cultivate female leadership through its Oracle Code One initiative, and its Women in Technology Summit in San Francisco, as well as its Oracle Women’s Leadership momentum, with 400+ events last year and more than 14,000 employees taking part. The same energy is permeating communications-industry standards bodies, associations and organizations in which carriers and vendors collaborate. One of the most active has been the GSMA’s Women4Tech Program, which now has three tiers of initiatives for the advancement of women: Youth level (GSMA Tech4Girls); Career/working level (Women4Tech RIG); C-Suite (Women4Tech Executive).  Each offshoot is designed to not only drive up representation in the technology industry but to also forge a path for more women in Board positions, as studies have shown that diversity at the top shatters “groupthink” and leads to more creativity and broader views. As recently pointed out by US Cellular’s Vice President Courtland Madock during a recent keynote, part of these positive trends is the fact female leaders have helped “normalize” situations once stigmatized, for example inspiring acceptance that it is possible to balance parenting and career, or that it is possible to take time off and return to a career. This normalization is inspiring more flexibility and "returnships" that allow women to have flexibility to work their own hours and to come back—all of which have triggered the new “bump” in employed women. According to recent NPR reports and articles in Light Reading’s “Women in Comms” and WiCipedia, the rate of growth for new job holders is currently higher for women, reversing a trend of the previous three years, where women were leaving the workforce at twice the rate of men.   Removing Bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Other than a focus on cultural progress, there must also be an assessment of what can be done with technology itself to further promote progress. For instance, the gender biases built into artificial intelligence (AI) models by what are currently predominantly male development teams (85 percent) will directly impact women through the consequent transformational technologies like ML, blockchain, and automation. In response to that realization, there are efforts to “upskill” women so that female representation goes into the models that will govern our increasingly digital society. Another angle of that issue is the fact a majority of AI-threatened jobs are held by women, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimating 26 million female jobs across 30 countries are at risk of disappearing and that 180 million women’s jobs globally are at risk of displacement. In all that is happening, it is clear we’ve come a long way…but still have a long way to go. While the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2019 reveals we have closed the gender gap 68 percent worldwide—with improvements in women’s earned income and the presence of women among senior officials and technical workers— it will take 200 years to close the remaining 32 percent at the current pace. It’s good that even at this rate, the economic impact is significant. McKinsey & Company’s most recent annual study on the impact of advancement of women predicts global GDP could increase by $770 billion by 2025 by advancing equality even in just parts of the world. The message here is to keep doing what we are doing, but perhaps with a little more speed and vigor. The GSMA recommends five key steps as a start: Push representation of men and women on shortlists for all senior roles Run job descriptions through gender bias decoding software Invest in training and coaching programs Support employees returning to work following parental leave, allowing for flexible working and check-ins with HR Encourage all people to take advantage of learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas To find out more about steps Oracle is taking, follow Oracle Women Lead (OWL) and attend the Oracle’s Women in Technology summits.

Efforts to educate, upskill and re-skill to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformations are critical for women’s empowerment and well being, but also that of global health since...

5G

Heavy Reading Research Reveals How CSPs Will Reinvent Themselves Through Network-enabled Communications & Cloud

Heavy Reading’s “Future Networking Survey Report” gathered responses from 61 CSP decision makers around the world. Below are insights on what it reveals in terms of future network-enabled communications and cloud markets as CSPs strive to participate in smart ecosystems (smart cities, smart home, etc.), as well as uncover new revenue sources through virtual networking architecture, such as network slicing. The survey explores the ways in which 5G, cloud-driven ecosystems, AI, massive IoT, and URLLC services will have an impact, and in the findings it is clear that CSPs want to transcend marginal roles (like providing just connectivity to VNOs or in partnership with SIs). They instead want to move on to own-brand, industry-vertical IoT solutions that leverage either best-of-breed components or end-to-end industry-specific network slices that capitalize on the flexibility, agility, and security benefits they get from their cloud investments. Worth noting is the fact that when asked about what role they’d want to play in building a smart ecosystem for their next transformative business opportunity, most CSPs in the survey said they would like to provide integrated, industry-vertical solutions consisting of connectivity, platform, applications and devices. It seems they will want to provide those solutions directly to enterprises—as a branded service in various ways, including: As a provider of integrated, industry-vertical solutions consisting of connectivity, platform, applications and devices directly to enterprises as a service; As a value-added channel for partner products through inclusion of connectivity and supplementary services in a managed service; As a destination for the brokering of cloud SaaS services in a two-sided marketplace for industry-vertical solutions; As a wholesale provider of tailored connectivity and supplementary services to a Virtual Operator that specializes in industry-vertical solutions; As a partner to a specialized SI that packages connectivity and supplementary services into an industry-vertical solution. In these options, it is apparent that to drive growth, service providers must become more than connectivity providers, supplying more of what enterprises need to effectively manage their businesses and take advantage of growing industry trends. This vision is becoming more tangible as developments in 5G continue to evolve, as with a next-gen core designed with a SBA based on cloud-native principles. Many cloud operational models will become available for deployment, helping CSPs to create logical “slices” that meet industry-specific SLAs for key performance indicators around latency, QoS, and others. The communications industry is starting to see further development toward application-specific networks or slices for more connected, secure, and smart end-to-end ecosystems. From those ecosystems, more tailored and dedicated solutions for various use cases and industry verticals will be possible. To that end, the survey showed that nearly one-third of respondents thought that they would need to forge new relationships and work together with industry specialists to capitalize on 5G. Additionally, 43 percent acknowledged that conversely, 5G would allow new entrants (e.g., vertical market players) to challenge the incumbent providers. This reflects a huge undertaking for service providers, which will need to adjust their goals and processes to become more attuned to the specific needs and regulations of the industries in which their enterprise customers operate. Standards and Open APIs will be a major component of how service providers create a repeatable and scalable way to address the needs of multifarious industries and organizations. CSPs in the survey identified the technologies they felt would be crucial in enabling an interoperable cloud ecosystem: Open APIs for functions like procurement, settlement, support and assurance between cloud services Industry standards for service functionality and capabilities Cloud brokering platforms that enable the rapid integration of SaaS services across multiple cloud infrastructures Open Source software to build the underlying cloud platform or services themselves There is convergence among some of the core networking standards, such as 3GPP, with IT principles. This has become a fundamental enabler to doing network slicing in a much more effective way by truly leveraging the flexibility, agility, and security of the cloud. Although open source serves foundational technology as well, it alone has not been enough to promote the interoperable cloud ecosystem the industry needs. Efforts around open APIs, like the ones promoted by the TM Forum and the Linux Foundation, will also become increasingly important for service providers to realize this vision. To find out more granular details about these and other topics covered in the study (security, modern BSS, DevOps, Cloud Native, among others), download the research here:

Heavy Reading’s “Future Networking Survey Report” gathered responses from 61 CSP decision makers around the world. Below are insights on what it reveals in terms of future network-enabled...

Security

Say ‘Hello’ to Genesys-Oracle Partnership for Securing and Futureproofing Call Centers and CX

Oracle Communications has joined the Genesys Partner Network in order to enable highly secure, high-quality call centers that empower call center agents and help them exceed customer expectations at scale. By bringing together Genesys’ cloud-based and on-prem omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions with Oracle Communications Enterprise Session Boarder Controllers (E-SBCs), Enterprise Operations Monitor and Fraud Monitor enterprises get a customer-experience solution that can address core KPI demands for Mean Time to Resolution (MTR) and First Call Completion (FCC) for both employee and customer satisfaction. The two companies will bring a multi-tiered approach to the three pillars of Call Center success: Security, Customer Experience and Futureproofing: Security: With the increase in global fraud call rates, it’s crucial that enterprises have the ability to respond within minutes to fraud incidents. Enterprises must be able to disable users and trunks, either on their Session Border Controllers, application servers, core network elements, or provisioning servers. Solutions must be purposefully designed for self-administration—purchase, provision and management of voice services anytime, anywhere with a simple-to-use web interface. Call Quality: Large companies typically experience five minutes of downtime/month, which can translate to a cost of $60 million/year. Enterprises have to ensure they deliver the same trusted, first-class communications across mobile as they do across fixed lines, requiring they plan, monitor, and optimize networks for real-time fault, configuration, performance, and route management. Critical will be end-to-end service monitoring to identify, troubleshoot, and resolve issues. They should also be able to add and manage voice services in a sustainable fashion, as well as support G.711 and Opus codecs for the highest call quality SIP trunking service. Futureproofing: Quality CX can drive up price premiums, and ensure the customer experience remains “human” with robust, user-friendly tools for personalized, seamless interactions across voice, video, chat, email, web, mobile, social, SMS and messaging channels. Enterprises have to be able to set-up, maintain and manage networks across branches, retail and countries in a consistent manner—with seamless integration of existing voice infrastructure end devices, including mobile phones. The combination of Oracle Communications eSBC and Enterprise Operations Manager gives enterprises an end-to-end view across SIP networks, helping them to plan, monitor and optimize networks for real-time fault, configuration, performance and route management. Those capabilities will combine with Genesys for G.711 and Opus codecs to assure the highest call quality SIP trunking services. To learn more about implementing strong security without compromising usability or performance, check out our whitepaper, webinar and case study. Also visit our Oracle Communications home page and subscribe to our Oracle Communications Blog.

Oracle Communications has joined the Genesys Partner Network in order to enable highly secure, high-quality call centers that empower call center agents and help them exceed customer expectations at...

5G

Three ‘Best Practices’ for Building Out 4G and 5G Services as Cloud Native Evolves

In leveraging our experience building web scale cloud and services, we have not only been building software and using processes that work for cloud, but also seeing that in practice, just being cloud native is not enough to be successful in providing digital services.  There is more that we and other vendors can do to help CSPs mitigate the frustrations acknowledged in our previous blog about what cloud native is and how it must be built from actual experience with large clouds, accompanied by process changes. CSPs recognize it is critical that they make the transition so that their own networks leverage cloud technologies and processes in order to improve their operational capabilities and increase their service flexibility. But that alone will not suffice to address their overall business needs, nor will it address the fundamental pressures exerted on them. Beyond the cloud native technology that the communications industry is working to use for deployment models, there are crucial cloud-inspired lessons and practices CSPs can adopt to accelerate key benefits, such as: Extend their network and processes to include consumption of whole services in an open and automated fashion—This can greatly increase what they will be capable of, enabling CSPs to focus on their core strengths and value while leveraging and repackaging high-value services in ways that will delight their customers; Consume and integrate cloud services to augment their offerings—Doing this where it makes sense will address much of the current frustration that the CSPs are experiencing. This is a fundamentally different model, as it does not come with the operational burden and complexity of stitching together functional components that are built for different environments. That reduction in complexity results directly in cost savings, and an increase in deployment and development speed that drives innovation. Consuming slices and SaaS are important aspects that we cover in this webinar. Facilitate and participate the growth of smart digital ecosystems—CSPs can extend their network and business practices, allowing them to easily consume and integrate services, as well as provide their own services in new ways. This is critical and is the real driver for the other changes. With these practices, CSPs can successfully build out new 4G and 5G services while avoiding taxing their own cloud environments and reducing considerably the integration and operational pain they’d otherwise encounter. They can do this with minimal impact to their core networks and without integrating cloud native microservices (or any other buzzword-based software) into their specific core environments. The operational efficiency gained from taking the services approach, which allows software to be optimized for a specific cloud environment, can be substantial. Extending their network and business practices into ecosystems designed for simplified consumption and integration of services as described in the above practices takes this to the next level, enabling operators to move into vertical services and fully monetize their own value. CSPs are in a unique position, but they need to move to modern practices and services to take advantage. While working toward cloud native, it's imperative to move toward ecosystems of services, and to do so in parallel with changes in the core network and related practices. To learn more, you can arrange to meet at the upcoming 5G World event at booth 5G308, and read our new cloud native ebook.

In leveraging our experience building web scale cloud and services, we have not only been building software and using processes that work for cloud, but also seeing that in practice, just being cloud...

SD-WAN

Choosing the Right SD-WAN for Multi-Cloud Enterprise Success

The WAN Edge is increasingly critical for cloud-based enterprise business applications. This critical network access point is continually shifting and the latest push to the cloud is causing disruption to reliable network transport in the Enterprise. Enterprises depend on their networks to generate valuable data and insights so as to avoid losing business to competitors due to poor network performance and user experience. Increasing amounts of digital data makes it all the more critical to minimize the potential problem of the WAN edge becoming the enterprise network choke point. Oracle recently collaborated with Zeus Kerravala at ZK Research to discuss what enterprises should do to alleviate their network traffic jams as more and more applications move off prem and into the cloud. Zeus confirms that cloud-based applications and business processes are set to overtake traditional on-prem solutions in 2019. In fact, the ZK Research 2019 Cloud Forecast validates the enterprise cloud dependence. This five-year forecast for cloud computing shows workloads in traditional data centers are on a sharp decline, with public and hybrid clouds ascending. In 2018, traditional on-premises data centers held 53 percent of workloads, while public and private cloud held a combined 47 percent. By the end of 2019, it is predicted traditional IT infrastructure will dip below 50 percent, and it will sit at 36 percent in 2022.  In three short years, public and private cloud combined will hold 64 percent of the market. Back to user and the enterprise WAN: Yes, networking connects users to applications, but applications were more centralized in the private data center era, and securely and reliably accessible via the enterprise’s private (expensive) MPLS network. Now, applications are distributed, and data is everywhere, yet user expectations of application performance have not changed – except perhaps to grow even greater. Digital businesses perform customer transactions in real-time. The enterprise WAN requires security, reliability, and QoE in order to meet these real-time requirements. As a result, the multi-cloud environment appears as one seamless network for all digital business transactions. It needs to be at least as good as the private WAN, private data center approach. Enter failsafe SD-WANs Why failsafe?  Because only failsafe SD-WANs deliver both non-real-time applications such as email, customer-relationship management (CRM) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and real-time applications including Voice over IP (VoIP), call centers as a service (CCaaS) and video— regardless of whether the SD-WAN is built on hybrid MPLS plus Internet connectivity or entirely over-the-top of Internet connections. Without failsafe SD-WAN technology, cloud migration efforts often fail, and return on investment (ROI) severely impacted. This brings us to a few closing business points in the ZK Research paper on gaining the most from SD-WAN: Customers require carrier-agnostic SD-WAN deployment flexibility. They also want a per-location choice of either a physical appliance—in a virtual form factor or deployed directly in the cloud—and consumable as OpEx or CapEx. ZK Research offers five cautions for buyers to ensure their multi-cloud enterprise success. Old decision criteria for network services, such as incumbency and market share, will not be enough in the multi-cloud era; Evaluators of network services must align their decision-making criteria with cloud enablers such as failsafe capabilities and cloud application performance; Network strategies must now change; In the cloud era, “good enough” is no longer good enough.  Businesses must consider the network a strategic cloud enabler; This isn’t your father’s IT environment, and it shouldn’t rely upon your father’s network.  For all ZK Research’s guidelines, please read the new “The Right SD-WAN” whitepaper and download the Oracle Communications eBook "10 Tips for Building a Failsafe Network."

The WAN Edge is increasingly critical for cloud-based enterprise business applications. This critical network access point is continually shifting and the latest push to the cloud is causing...

Digital Transformation

Top Takeaways from Digital Transformation World - Ecosystems, Blockchain, Cloud Native & More

In attending TM Forum's Digital Transformation World this year, there were subtle and not-so-subtle changes worth reflection, as this year’s Catalysts, keynotes and sessions talked of “transformation” but in a more grown up or advanced manner thanks to the actual 5G and IoT momentum on which we can all now build.  Below are some key takeaways: Digital Smart Ecosystems — the foundation for 5G-driven business models. For CSPs looking to capitalize on actual or impending 5G investments, digital ecosystems and the Internet of Everything (IoE) will help them extend their reach beyond vertically integrated companies toward partners that will help them drive innovation into emerging digital services. In fact, two of the Catalysts in which Oracle participated showcased what is possible in open and collaborative ecosystems — Zero Touch Partnering, where multiple service providers collaborated to offer and fulfill each other’s products using TM Forum Open APIs; and Smart City Ecosystem Enablement & Business Model where telcos generated smart-cities revenue using multi-sided business models. These catalysts and several of the sessions and discussions conveyed a subtle change of emphasis from “Is 5G a market reality?” to “What are the actual use cases and revenue-generating opportunities?” CSPs becoming digital. In terms of creating impactful digital offers, there was a heavy focus on CSPs becoming digital, including a full track called Digital Operator 2025 and sessions on CSPs creating offshoot/digital brands (e.g., Verizon/Visible, Videotron/Fizz), as well as the launch of startups and MVNOs branding themselves as “untelco,” (e.g., Japan’s Rakutan, which calls itself a “global innovation company”).  With established and emerging players alike, there is a shift of control to subscribers through digital tools that empower them to browse offers, order, manage and change services, track balances and provide feedback. This shift will require agile BSS/OSS and ideally systems that can scale to handle high volumes, as well as convergent charging to help operators avoid a digital dead end of limiting their growth potential. Blockchain — fostering trust and transparency. As established and new players become part of an expanding ecosystems, a great deal of trust will be necessary among partners, which made blockchain and AI popular subtopics, with traction across many industries, such as financial services, logistics, health care, and retail, among others. Cloud Native — what’s expected vs. what is available. As mentioned in last week’s blog, TIM’s Elisabetta Romano in her keynote and other operators at the show voiced concern that the market isn’t providing what operators need, namely cloud-native architectures and more agile and scalable solutions deployed on-prem or on public IaaS so that enterprise customers can manage upgrades, patches, and operations themselves. At Oracle, cloud native means faster development and deployment through DevOps and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, but CSPs are approaching cloud native in different ways—some striving to be software companies in their own right, and others seeking to leverage the resources of their trusted suppliers—a topic we explore in a new white paper, eBook and blog. In this and all of the above topics, it is apparent that TM Forum and its membership is diversifying into areas adjacent to core CSP, and that all stakeholders are looking for ways to materially impact the way they think about their customers and business as they go digital. For more information about what Oracle Communications is offering and achieving with its customers, view recent press releases and customer wins here.  

In attending TM Forum's Digital Transformation World this year, there were subtle and not-so-subtle changes worth reflection, as this year’s Catalysts, keynotes and sessions talked of “transformation”...

5G

Specialized Services for '5G-Ready' Enterprises Require Ecosystems & 5G Cores with Slicing Support

Increasingly, we are seeing demonstrations and trials and even real-world implementations of 5G’s potential marketplace impact: remote surgery using 5G; 5G autonomous cars; streaming video/ Virtual Reality for 3-D music and sports experiences, and more. While these technology demonstrations help to prove out the technical aspects of 5G, they do not necessarily prove out market readiness in different verticals for those types of services. They also are not pushing the readiness of the operators to support a range of new services, as they are making changes to radio and to the rest of their networks focused on the demonstrations, and not the value. In most cases, the effect is not yet revolutionary, as the service provider is still just a bit pipe— even if a “better” bit pipe—and the enterprises in many cases still ambivalent about which communications services and in what combinations will bring them meaningful value propositions. In order to add value, CSPs have to integrate into verticals seeking broader ecosystems and communications-driven digital enablement. They have to find a way to help them provide complete services and experiences to their customers. Digital transformation is the primary vehicle by which Customer Experience and Engagement is augmented, as 5G can foment rapid service deployment, flexible SLAs, ease of usage, ease of integration into broader services (technical and business ease, including support for multiple models). This can have important implications for the communications industry, as digital services are communications based, and CSPs can be the key to making those services easy to use and specialized enough to improve the user experience and drive up business value. A 5G Core + Slicing to Support Devices, Data & Specialization While we don’t know what the “killer use cases” for 5G are yet, we do know that communications services will be critical to every vertical industry and that 5G-driven ecosystems are the means by which companies will accelerate innovation. Operators are in a unique position as they can provide the feature rich and easily usable communications services vertical industries need, but only if they make the most of their core values as players in broader ecosystems with a 5G core and slicing support. As we’ve written previously, network slicing empowers CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user, device or context—and when applied appropriately, SLAs may be attached that provide the building blocks of the business model. This is the means by which CSPs will participate in a range of ecosystems, moving them up the value chain across industries. For example, in game streaming, there can be real operator value through greater integration into an ecosystem. With specific slices and integration into CX and applications, a specialized version of a game streaming platform could be offered under an operator brand. Under the covers, the operator could provide much of the experience, including the basic portals for users and game providers, as well as own-branded monetization for the game providers. This service could run out of multiple cloud environments with third parties providing various parts of the streaming platform, back office, CX, slicing, and edge, and the mobile network operator providing the access and other technologies. The integration would be facilitated by the ecosystem, as shown in the image below, with each participant focused on the value it brings, while the operator provides the cohesive package to the users with great CX and rapid provisioning.   To succeed, there are many integration points and a need for an architecture that supports integration.  That can be accomplished with a 5G core with slicing support, and good API exposure and integration with other cloud environments. The point is that all good service environments will provide “5G building blocks” that help service providers move forward with both traditional mobile services as well as Enterprise services. The goal should be to add value to core services with good margins and operational efficiencies—something that will come with more automation in technology and business practices, and with a willingness to go outside your comfort zone to tap into and capitalize on the expertise of people outside your own industry. In other words, CSPs have to focus on curating world-class experiences for their customers, and must leverage the best that they and others bring to make this reality. To learn more, see our recent research report, “5G Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise—Are You Ready?  

Increasingly, we are seeing demonstrations and trials and even real-world implementations of 5G’s potential marketplace impact: remote surgery using 5G; 5G autonomous cars; streaming video/ Virtual...

5G

Cloud Native and Microservices: Hallmarks of Next-Gen Applications

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming a differentiator in enterprise applications. At the recent Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, industry analysts and customers were assessing whether the software that will power 5G monetization and other functions is cloud-native and employing a microservices architecture. So what are they really asking? The software of yesteryear is monolithic in nature, meaning that all parts of the system are treated as a single object. This structure, or architecture, can be adequate for simple situations, but leads to many of the problems we all associate with enterprise-grade software development and deployment: long lead times to release new features, disconnects between the people doing the coding and those running it in data centers, security lapses, and difficulty in identifying and fixing bugs. In recent years, leading software providers moved away from this monolithic architecture and instead embraced the idea of building applications as a set of services, called microservices — each with its own job and defined way of interacting with other services. Let’s take monetization software as an example. One microservice might handle creating price plans while another handles invoice formatting and yet another handles payments. Each of these microservices are discrete parts that can be managed individually and orchestrated by technologies like Kubernetes to work together. This architecture yields significant benefits in enterprise-grade software, including: Speed and Agility. Customers can get software at a speed that can be orders of magnitude faster than traditional release schedules in a DevOps environment that enables continuous integration and continuous delivery; Innovation. Automation-driven faster release cycles of new software mean that customers quickly get the latest features and innovations in monetization, machine learning, adaptive intelligence and more; Scalability. Pay for only what you need and use. Suppose a customer has an especially high volume of transactions and needs to scale with charging capabilities, but not necessarily with taxation. Capacity can be added to deal with only the extra requirements, with the user charged only for whatever is increased. And even better, this can be handled dynamically with no human intervention; Availability. Unlike with monolithic software, microservices are designed to be easily and automatically replaced. If one component goes down, a new one is swapped in to do the same job without crashing the system. Walking the Walk Is Not Easy With all these benefits, it is no wonder everyone is looking for cloud-native applications. But it is actually a very significant undertaking for a software provider to shift from a monolithic to a microservices-based architecture. Industry analyst firm IDC projects that by 2022, 35 percent of all production apps will be cloud-native. That means that even three years from now, a majority will not yet have successfully made the shift to microservices. In the monetization and digital experience space, very few companies have successfully deployed fully cloud-native solutions. Fortunately, Oracle is ahead of this curve. Oracle Monetization Cloud is already architected to fully employ cloud-native principles. Deployed in a microservices architecture on Oracle’s Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure, it is delivering to communications and digital service providers around the world all the benefits of agility, innovation, scalability and availability. Read this position paper to learn more, including how Larry Ellison describes Oracle’s robots fighting cyber threats to deliver world-class security. Also read "Innovating Beyond Subscription" to see how you can implement creative pricing models through combinations of recurring, consumption-based, a la carte, bundled, discounted and tiered service options.

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming...

5G

Going Cloud Native: Building ‘True’ Cloud Models That Blend Process & People

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications industry. CSPs want to successfully deploy services in the cloud to answer to the challenge of webscale companies. They are exploring how to make the most of 5G, IOT, autonomous, smart cities, AR/VR and other use cases. A key requirement will be cloud-native applications that improve the agility of network functions. As a first step, many CSPs are migrating applications to containers and Kubernetes to optimize operations and implement stronger security during migrations to public cloud. For these reasons, Oracle is heavily vested in open source-, community-based, container-native themes. As a Platinum member with Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and champion of open source serverless platforms via its Fn Project, Oracle is building platforms that can be run anywhere–on any cloud or any on-prem environment. Because CSPs have different challenges around security, legacy, regulatory and other challenges, the freedom to choose is paramount. Additionally, Oracle is extending cloud-native approaches to new communities, like WebLogic and Java, using Kubernetes clusters to connect applications to microservices platforms, not to mention all that is being done around autonomous, self-driving/repairing databases. These investments by Oracle are now finding their way into the global business units that serve verticals looking for ways to fast track transformations. Reality Check The elephant in the room, however, is how to orchestrate such large quantities of containers and how to manage containers on multiple clouds. Oracle Communications is exploring how CNCF based open source software along with the principles of successful cloud-native operations can make cloud native computing pervasive for telecom. The future of cloud native in telecom revolves around four cloud characteristics: Each of the above is complex, and necessitates a rich ecosystem of services and technology to orchestrate, schedule, network, deploy, and maintain the cloud native software. Also required is a change in mindset about how services are built, and function. Oracle Communications’ cloud native environment Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) captures all four of the above rudiments. Built upon bare- metal-as-a-service infrastructure, it boasts a robust Kubernetes container management environment, complemented by key CNCF based backing services. It also provides a pipeline for developers designing, testing and building code all the way through to delivery, on a continuous basis. To learn more, go to our recent white paper, “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications,” which explores how microservices architecture and the concept of how a 12-factor application will empower developers to create software that is considered truly native to the cloud.  

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications...

5G

‘5G Realised’ Reveals What 5G Pioneers Have in Common with Black-Hole Scientists

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led to the discovery last week of the supermassive M87 black hole—its existence known because of the shadow it cast, not for any light that could escape its gravitational pull or any understanding of the power held within. Its newly ascribed name, Pōwehi, means embellished dark source of unending creation. The parallel struck me as I thought about my time at 5G Realised last week in London, where key stakeholders explored the enormous theoretical and practical obstacles they must overcome to make 5G truly revolutionary and valuable to customers, organizations, and societies as a whole. We sought to reveal the practical side of 5G without the business-case distortions that have in the past made some telecom executives and investors balk at the capital requirements and, frankly, the “unknown” that comes with 5G. Most impressive was the manner in which “competitors” collaborated for a common goal, much like the scientists that created the Event Horizon “virtual” telescope that pooled the capacity of telescopes around the world to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. At the event, four of the United Kingdom’s most prominent operators—Telefonica, Three UK, BT Group and Vodafone UK—worked to make sense of 5G from an urban planning, environmental and capital cost point-of-view in the fireside chat “Realising 5G Services,” which I was privileged to moderate. During the discussion, Andrea Dona, head of Vodafone UK Networks, described how enhanced mobile broadband would make fixed wireless access a substitute for fixed broadband connectivity—the likely monetization model that will get things rolling and set the stage for the B2B2C and B2B models that will eventually emerge around 5G hot spots with an EMBB boost, not to mention the IoT and mission-critical control use cases that will have far-reaching B2B consequences. Three UK’s COO Graham Baxter offered insight into what the average Three UK customer’s usage might be in the future, citing Ofcom projections of 90GB per month by 2025. In preparation, he outlined how regulationss will impact investment in terms of access to fiber, planning permissions, mobile spectrum leases, and net neutrality decisions that affect 5G slicing and monetization capabilities. BT Group’s CTIO Howard Watson outlined how mobile subsidiary EE will switch on 5G services in 16 U.K. cities in 2019, and the overall vision to create “one smart network” that is always connected and always optimized through an evolutionary path from first extending IMS to BT and EE customers, to then switching on its 5G network, to IP voice and public WiFi “on the go,” and a new core in the next few years. Brendan O' Reilly, the CTO of Telefonica said that "collaboration" was critical for the rapid build and deployment of the network, and this meant collaboration among the operators, government, local authorities, and enterprise, and so far this collaboration is going very well. He also felt that aside form the enterprise and FMA, gaming and entertainment users would be among the early adapters. The willingness to share visions and journeys was not unique to European carriers, as I see U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint working together in the 5G realm through the 3GPP, ATIS, and CSRIC, to drive standards and momentum. Everyone realizes they can’t do this alone and the only way to accelerate 5G progress is to work together on spectrum, construction and network build outs in the urban areas that will be ground zero for the first 5G deployments. Those 5G use cases will depend on how well all members of the value chain work together to address key challenges: Infrastructure: how to have enough fixed wireless antennas to maintain line-of-sight with nearby cells for fixed 5G wireless, and the future of mobile 5G.  What’s the best way to set up “street furniture,” the cellular base stations on street lamps and utility poles that will make 5G viable without having to put cell sites every 600 feet? Spectrum: How much and where?  Just this week, controversy erupted when the White House and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced there’d be auctions in the 37, 39 & 47 GHz bands, only to have the FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and many in the press contend that the “rest of the world” would be focused on mid-band airwaves (i.e., CBRS and C-Band spectrum) that are less susceptible to obstruction by buildings, trees, people and even air. Leadership: Who will be driving the vision—will it be the CSPs that bring use cases to the industries most hungry for innovation, or will it be certain industries whose needs catalyze disruption enough to spark real 5G use cases of import? One of the key values of 5G Realised was the tangible effort to connect those who want 5G sooner rather than later with those who can actually supply it. All who attended worked to put aside the unrealistic and explore more of the pragmatic in terms of where 5G would first work and the use cases that would really be viable in gaming, energy, security, financial services, agriculture, health, automotive, transportation and other industries. Though leaders across industries admit they don’t really know what the true impact of 5G will be for them, they do know they have real problems to solve and real pressure to create new revenues. There would be no Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, Lyft or Airbnb today without 4G, and none of us thought of it before. And just like the discovery of Pōwehi, the value of the 5G journey is in what we don’t yet know. Related Content: On-Demand Webinar: The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G White Paper: 5G Core: How To Get There Blog: We Must All Push for Worldwide 5G Security Now  

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led...

Are You Ready for Digital Customer Engagement?

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a voice-centric contact center standing in the way as you embrace digital innovation? Nemertes Research recently talked about the diminishing role of contact centers, and some of the questions organizations can ask to assess where they are with digital customer experience, such as: Do you offer a mobile app that connects your customer to the right service associate? Have you added contextual chat, voice, or video to your website? Can you proactively engage customers across the buyer journey? Can you interact with customers via their preferred channels? Can you intelligently upsell and cross-sell based on past transactions and business insights? Can your associates share and annotate screens to assist customers and spur product adoption? If the answer to many of the above-questions was “no,” then it’s time to accept that you can no longer rely on the patterns that worked yesterday, and certainly not yester-year! Customers expect you to know exactly what they want and how to deliver it. All generations of people now interact with sales and support professionals through an array of channels—chat, voice, and video. And they expect the experience to be meaningful and satisfying. According to an Oracle Communications survey of 5000+ consumers, 95% of consumers today are mobile and 70% are highly engaged through their mobile applications. This creates complexity for organizations, as the customer journey is no longer linear, as it used to be. The use of smart applications and mobile devices to research, review, purchase and get customer service now triggers more erratic or unpredictable behaviors and choices. So how can organizations meet their customers at critical junctures, especially as the number of touchpoints and preferred channels increase? Two Major Approaches to Digital Transformation According to Mark Mortensen of ACG Research, there are two approaches to digital transformation: an outside-in approach, where a company digitalizes the interactions between itself and its customers using digital-first, digital-only and ominichannel options to go after more revenue, and greater customer satisfaction; or the inside-out model of getting infrastructure in place that transforms the back office so that the company begins faster, agile and cheaper to transact with. Both are hard to do, and most companies ultimately choose one or the other to get the ball rolling. A good plan is to take a page from digital natives like Netflix and Uber, which excel at carving out any inconveniences a person might encounter in the customer lifecycle by very frequently evaluating business models and the technologies and trends that will help them build more satisfying and enduring relationships. Keep in mind these “innovators” started as small disruptors who did NOT get the “right idea” right away. They worked at it and made sometimes painful investments in infrastructure, processes and culture to ensure their evolution was smooth to the customers. Oracle Live Experience customer TelkomTelstra said in a recent video that if a customer has a single fail when trying something new, it is likely that customer will simply go to another provider that fulfills his or her expectations. That’s why the company’s transformation involves flexible business models powered by small APIs that can be rapidly implemented on existing customer infrastructure and applications — without major investment in skilled developers, infrastructure and applications. The Next Step: Cultural Shift As organizations figure out how to move the contact center from cost center to a revenue generator and loyalty driver, they can simultaneously think of how to incentivize even their least digital customers to try new engagement channels, rewarding them for trying something new, as well as giving them an “out” if something new isn’t working for them. Most people won’t take kindly to being driven down a “customer journey” they didn’t choose, as happens when they get stuck in a process and have to search for an 800 number once they reach a point of frustration. For customers not familiar with AI chatbots and video chat, there can be a step-wise transition. Modern customer engagement strategy can aim to provide proactive engagement and transformative experience, moving customers at their own pace beyond the contact center with small steps at first. And as multiple satisfactory experiences are created, they will be more likely to try new things. Companies can offer incentives that reward customers for interacting digitally-i.e., free music downloads, event tickets, digital movie rentals or eBooks. Think of how digital CX innovators are doing things and adopt what you can. Look at Oracle customer Marriott, which is setting the pace for digital in the hospitality industry, using digital rewards to delight customers and make them promoters of their brand. By creating high-touch experiences, Marriott is enhancing, not replacing, the experience customers expect by personalizing experiences, especially for customers that want mobile check in and check out, two-way digital conversations, connections of their personal devices to in-room entertainment, or mobile requests for food and beverage. As another example, Insurance companies can streamline operations, improving efficiencies and scaling their business, while also providing a compelling customer experience. Watch how digital insurance companies can deliver zero-touch claims processing, as well how banks are delivering in-app banking experiences on mobile devices. To learn more about modernizing customer engagement for the mobile generation, download our new eBook.  

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a...

Digital Transformation

CSPs Uniquely Positioned to Enable Comms-Driven Digital Ecosystems-But How to Go About It?

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the social-to-cash-to-care lifecycle. Digital services have shown immense traction and benefits across vertical markets as they increasingly prove themselves as the way forward. These services are all about tapping into and connecting with customers through a broader range of more flexible, personalized and customized services. To fluidly connect people and process across ever-expanding boundaries in digital services, it’s necessary that enterprises and their communications providers digitally transform in their own right—continually introducing more robust and flexible communications as the underpinning of evolving digital services and the ecosystems that will enable them. Communications is becoming increasingly fundamental to digital services for not only connectivity, but also increasingly mobile, sensor- and device-driven, real-time services that demand and generate incredible amounts of data. That will uniquely position telecommunications service providers as the only ones in these ecosystems capable of connecting key stakeholders and managing the innate complexity of having so many comms, IT, operational and business pieces working together in increasingly smart interconnected ecosystems. It’s through ecosystems that the best services will be provided, integrating the unique capabilities and position of the CSPs with a range of services for increasingly higher value verticalized offers. The Challenge: there is no one way to do this! To fully capitalize on the opportunity to become the horizontal underpinning of digital services and ecosystems, as well as to provide increasingly integrated vertical offerings, CSPs are setting the stage for working in new Cloud- and Edge-driven ecosystems.  This is not a simple proposition as there are a number of different approaches to cloud deployments, including public and private clouds, edges, and hybrid approaches.  These may all be used in different flavors and combinations depending on the providers, ecosystems and use cases. The maturation of IoT and the move toward 5G each has its own implications as well. Many CSPs have been building up private clouds to address their own deployment needs and to move into digital services. There are some common approaches to this that are evolving to be more Cloud Native. Challenges abound, however, with multiple environments within these clouds and a range of complicated orchestration that is struggling to serve business needs.  Time-proven approaches of standing up networks out of individual boxes for a limited set of use cases do not scale rapidly enough as ecosystems rapidly evolve along with their cloud, and now edge technologies. 5G and SBA, enough? The changes in 5G introduce some relief, as a move towards a much more cloud-friendly approach gives rise to the Service-Based Architecture that allows for a better fit into cloud and edge environments, not to mention more rapid evolution of the building blocks of the services provided by these networks.  Though it’s an improvement, it does fall short in several ways. For one, these changes need to fold into the need of operators to participate in and host ecosystems around more integrated services.  That, in turn, requires a different mindset than building networks only out of boxes and a move towards providing and integrating higher value services using the advantages of ecosystems and clouds.  For example, the value in the network slices popularized by 5G, and starting to be deployed on 4G, is not just in the specialization potential.  It is just as much in the ability to bundle up entire slices as offerings and realize the reduction in complexity and operations that can bring, along with the possibility of better integration in to vertical services and ecosystems. As an industry, we must continue down this path and work to take advantage of communications as the underpinning of these ecosystems. To learn more about ecosystems and integrating services via marketplaces, listen to our new webinar “5G and Cloud—Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators.” Also read our new white paper “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications” to see how practitioners responsible for network-oriented applications are trying to move to the “web services” model.      

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the...

UC and Contact Center

The ‘Darlings’ of Enterprise Connect were UCaaS, SD-WAN, & Artificial Intelligence

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change, and—in sharp contrast to Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago—5G was not the darling of the event, as four other areas seemed to steal the show: Cloud-based UC, Collaboration and CC: Since Enterprise Connect is really more about communications than networking, it had a strong focus on unified communications (UC) and the Contact Center (CC), with everything becoming available “as-a-service” through the cloud. Whether UCaaS or CCaaS or Communications PaaS, it was apparent that everyone had embraced comms in the cloud, and subscriptions to the cloud as opposed to anything targeting on-prem sales. The focus was UC&C (collaboration) that would integrate different elements of comms for faster, better, cheaper collaboration, culminating with in-app communications that would capitalize on real-time video and audio communications integrated into mobile, cloud, and desktop apps. While most vendors were showing they were “all in” with cloud, Oracle Communications also felt it was important to emphasize to customers that they could extend the life of their on-prem telephony infrastructure as they evolved toward cloud-driven audio, video, mobile and Internet-driven capabilities. A case in point was our announcement about fortifying Microsoft Teams with our Session Border Controller, showing a hybrid option for taming complexity and managing security across chat, meetings, and calling as enterprises evolve. That would give orgs Teams features while maintaining their on-prem voice, which they could augment with cloud-based audio/video collaboration and messaging. SD-WAN: As enterprises move their real-time communications to the cloud through Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), with packets running over the Internet, it will be SD-WAN that ensures QoE over the network, no matter where their users are. And the more real-time communications move over to the cloud, the more organizations will need border security. Enterprises will need more secure pipes for apps and services being delivered to users. That means not only generic security, but also app-level security. That’s where our enterprise portfolio shines, and that’s what we were really demonstrating at Enterprise Connect—our SBCs as the voice edge of an enterprise network and our Failsafe SD-WAN technology as the data edge of the enterprise network. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Advanced Data Analytics: As evidenced by the five keynotes, the combination of AI, ML and Advanced Data Analytics are already enhancing employees’ interactions. We saw, for example, how real-time translation during conference calls could improve collaboration and productivity among employees speaking different languages. On top of that, adding context about each person on a conference call could give each individual insight about his or her relation to others on the call—giving a better understanding of past interactions and the potential for future synergies and interactions. It was refreshing to see practical demonstrations of how these technologies are transforming customer engagement. Virtual assistants and bots were already cutting out most if not all extraneous questions so that human agents and associates could focus on higher-value engagement with customers—driving contact centers toward the profit side of the spectrum as opposed to cost. As enterprises get better at understanding and even predicting customer behavior (and their preferences around channels, devices, locations, etc.). it will be contextual insight that informs companies on how to engage increasingly mobile and demanding customers throughout their engagement lifecycle to drive up loyalty and sustainable revenues. 5G-driven mobile data capabilities: Though most enterprises at the show were not really talking about 5G and IoT, many analysts present were discussing how 5G speeds and lower latencies would be game changers for enterprises in the not too distant future. Improved network capacity and performance will inevitably mean happier customers. SD-WAN will play a critical role in ‘gluing’ 5G with other existing network access technologies like MPLS and Broadband Internet. We have recently explored the potential of network-slice-as-a-service and other exciting opportunities 5G will bring to enterprises. To learn more about how to transition enterprise networks, explore the findings of our new research about managing enterprise networks, and watch our recent Webcast with Oracle Communications Senior Vice President and General Manager Doug Suriano, Oracle Communications Worldwide Vice President Vin La Rocca, and Oracle Communications Vice President, Products and Co-Founder Talari Networks John Dickey.

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change,...

Security

Cracking Down on ‘Call Spoofing’ With STIR/SHAKEN & Next-Gen Call Authentication

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in the form of illegal and spoofed robocalls have become the FCC's top consumer complaint. Illegal robocalls are also the prevailing complaints for Europe’s OFCOM and UK ICO, as well as Canada’s CRTC. Call “spoofing” — the practice of deliberately falsifying information transmitted to caller ID displays or tricking someone into giving away valuable personal information — has become so prevalent that FCC Chairman Pai this past November demanded that CSPs adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing, threatening that the agency would intervene if carriers didn’t commit to a solution. As a follow up, the FCC this month called on all in the industry to "catch up" so that regulatory intervention wouldn’t be necessary in light of this heightening epidemic. Heeding the call of both the FCC and their consumers, many carriers have begun researching how to best implement ATIS’ STIR/SHAKEN standards and solutions. ATIS’ and the SIP Forum’s publication of the Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards provide a framework of interconnected standards intended to help carriers digitally validate the handoff of phone calls as they travel through interconnected phone networks. The hope is that by having originating carriers affirm caller IDs as “legitimate” and by having those caller IDs further validated by other carriers before reaching consumers, the level of confidence that verified calls are indeed legitimate will go up, restoring trust among consumers, and helping legitimate businesses regain one of the most tried-and-true marketing tools in phone-based communications with potential or existing customers. Call Authentication in the Age of the Dynamic Reputation Database To keep up with the criminals’ adaptability, STIR/SHAKEN solutions must be robust, flexible and rapidly extensible through an application delivery model that enables CSPs to deploy standards-compliant functionalities on day one. They must have the ability to alter applications rapidly, with feature enhancements deployable in weeks or months, not quarters or years.   Oracle Communications has achieved all three with its next-gen call authentication solution, which runs STIR/SHAKEN components on carrier-grade platforms and extensible technology, integrating with licensed and long-proven components: Oracle Commerce Cloud (OCC) Applications; Oracle Communications Converged Application Server (OCCAS Middleware); Oracle Key Vault (OKV) and Oracle Communications User Data Repository (UDR); as well as additional platform and application support from MyOracle Support and the Oracle Communications Consulting application delivery model, which can triage and respond in accordance with SLAs. The OCCAS Middleware delivers feature-rich SIP and Web applications like the STIR/SHAKEN secure telephone identity (STI-AS/STI-VS). As a robust development toolkit, OCCAS enables applications to natively support SIP, REST, JSON, SOAP, LDAP, and JDBC — scaling horizontally, and deployable as a virtual machine or Bare Metal. It’s also important to note that OCCAS is extensible so that it can be central to multi-analytics capabilities, which means it can integrate with a cloud-based, third-party nuisance analytics database. In such a case, it would help pull nuisance analytics and push feedback. The Oracle Key Vault (OKV) is a purpose-built hardened appliance that is well suited to storing private and sensitive data.  Finally, Oracle’s “on-demand development as a service” changes the traditional feature delivery model by removing the concept of a request for enhancement (RFE) back log from the start and empowers CSPs to rapidly deploy feature enhancements. All of these components comprise a solution that provides STIR SHAKEN “Caller-ID Attestation,” ensuring originating operators can validate caller identity, and inserting a signed “Identity” header into SIP INVITE messages. “Signing” is done with a certificate issued to the origination operator and terminating operators are then able to validate the signature and take appropriate action based on the results. Inter-operator trust can therefore be established though certificate chains. To learn more about how STIR/SHAKEN runs on Oracle, go to this new video, and to find out more contact us.

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in...

SD-WAN

Top-10 Ways a Failsafe SD-WAN Delivers Better QoE - Part 2

In the first half of our series on how a Failsafe SD-WAN enables superior Quality of Experience (QoE), we highlighted five specific benefits of failsafe SD-WAN technology. Each of those five SD-WAN capabilities contributes to better real-time experiences for enterprise end users: Enabling MPLS-class failsafe technology. Facilitating better access to SaaS. Leveraging techniques for more intelligent routing. Synergy with Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions. Combination of QoE with Network Quality of Service. There's still plenty of ground to cover on the different ways an SD-WAN solution powers the real-time enterprise. Let's go right into the next five entries on our list, starting with the most talked-about QoE benefits of all: SD-WAN's real-time impact on voice and video. 6. Traffic shaping for videoconferencing By the early 2020s, video will constitute a supermajority of all network traffic, up from the already-considerable share it accounted for during the 2010s. Unlike TCP apps, enterprise videoconferencing services are real-time applications requiring significant bandwidth and strict requirements in terms of minimal packet loss and jitter. Failsafe SD-WAN technology allows network managers to augment or replace low-bandwidth, expensive MPLS circuits with high-bandwidth inexpensive Internet links, and all while delivering the necessary technology for network bandwidth management via techniques like traffic/packet shaping, packet replication and Inbound Multisource QoS. This means video is prioritized and runs successfully, without adversely affecting QoE for other applications that share the same WAN. 7. Crisper, more reliable VoIP quality On paper, VoIP seems like a must-have for any organization wanting to leave behind its costly and inflexible PBX system.  Enterprises also want to ensure high-quality voice support for their increasingly distributed teams. In practice, though, there are often barriers to success, including inconsistent service from the locally available ISPs, which can lead to choppy call quality. A proper Failsafe SD-WAN implementation constantly measures path quality and sends performance-sensitive traffic like VoIP and video down the best links available at any given moment. It will even offer replication of VoIP calls on two different paths to ensure platinum-quality voice even in the face of network problems on more than one connection. Failsafe SD-WAN technology turns problematic VoIP implementations into a reliable real-time communications offering, in a way that SD-WAN solutions lacking such technology simply cannot. 8. Streamlined WAN management SD-WAN delivers a better experience not only for end users of services like video and VoIP but also for the administrators who configure and manage the network. Features such as zero-touch provisioning (ZTP), centralized management and web-based consoles allow administrators to make changes to global network configurations with just a few clicks.  Easier management reduces the chances of configuration errors that cause problems with the WAN. A Failsafe SD-WAN goes a step further, making the network fault-tolerant even to configuration errors elsewhere on the network. The automated processes and ease-of-use of managing SD-WAN tools are big improvements from the days of more manual network operations. 9. Cloud-based network security In MPLS WANs, creating a secure connection to the cloud often came at the cost of QoE.  Backhauling traffic to a data center or HQ across thin MPLS links created a noticeable hit to network and application performance. Additionally, fully distributing NGFW (Next-Generation FireWall) network security functionality to all locations proved expensive in terms of both CapEx and OpEx. SD-WANs solve these problems through integrations with cloud-based network security services such as Zscaler and Palo Alto GlobalProtect.  Beyond providing a robust security stack within a direct-to-cloud gateway, cloud security gains the elasticity, flexibility, ease of management and ability to add new security services that cloud-based network security-as-a-service offers. 10.QoS + QoE, revisited We'll end this post like we ended part one, with a look at QoE vs QoS. The QoS capabilities of an SD-WAN, as ZK Research founder and principal analyst Zeus Kerravala points out, are about more than the prioritization of real-time traffic. If delivered with Failsafe SD-WAN technology, they also enable features such as Inbound Multisource QoS that enables bandwidth reservation and ensures more predictable and reliable performance of both TCP and real-time traffic. That is true even with shared inbound Internet links, which allows enterprise to safely leverage Internet links for real-time and mission-critical interactive traffic. Want to learn more about SD-WAN and QoE?  Please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers Failsafe SD-WAN.

In the first half of our series on how a Failsafe SD-WAN enables superior Quality of Experience (QoE), we highlighted five specific benefits of failsafe SD-WAN technology. Each of those five SD-WAN...

Security

Sneak-Peek of Oracle Communications at Enterprise Connect: SD-WAN, E911 & More

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 and unified communications, contact centers, and customer experience. On March 18, from 1:00-1:45, Oracle Communications will have subject matter experts speaking in two concurrent sessions: Communications Hacks: Sources and Solutions As part of the Security and Compliance Track, this session focuses on call centers and whether they are becoming the main target for toll fraud. Our own Rajat Gopal, senior director product management and strategy, will join a panel discussion about security architectures and what enterprise IT departments can do about SIP access attacks, telephony denial of service (TDoS) and the emerging variations on legacy security threats. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the security approaches required to stay ahead of threats. Some key questions the panel will answer: Is toll fraud growing as a problem, even as long-distance telephony declines? What kind of SIP-based attacks are most prevalent? What impact are TDoS attacks having? What should Session Border Controllers and other devices be able to do? How can employees be better trained to reduce risks? Meeting the E911 Challenge: Under the Unified Communications Track, Andrew Gottlieb, vice president, SD-WAN Solutions, Oracle Communications, will take part in a panel that will address 911 strategy, and how to maintain accurate 911 information in a multi-vendor environment, on premises and in the cloud, while implementing features such as the ability to notify security desks of 911 calls, call recording, and misdial prevention. Key questions the panel hopes to address include: How to identify a caller’s location and route that call to the proper public safety answering point (PSAP)? How can UC architects manage E911 location in wireless and softphone-based environments? How to best track user locations and what to do with emergency location tracking information provided by Apple and Google? What happens to E911 location information when moving to the cloud? Deploying Failsafe SD-WANs for Contact Centers On day one, from 6:10PM – 6:30 PM, Oracle Communications will have a  Contact Center and Customer Experience presentation in EC Theater 2200. Oracle SD-WAN experts will explain how to improve traffic reliability while lowering costs. The focus will be MPLS-class reliability and application QoE for both hybrid and all-Internet WANs, delving into both virtual- and cloud platforms to deliver UCC, Data-Center apps, and reliable mission critical real-time communications —even when networks fail or are compromised. The presentation will cover questions such as: How can enterprise WAN managers and CIOs work with limited IT resources in remote locations? How can managers feel secure replacing time-tested MPLS-based solutions with unpredictable Internet connections? How can WAN administrators avoid having to map applications to network connections on a per-session basis? We hope to see you next week in Orlando at booth 1619—stop by for a demo and set up a meeting with one of our Oracle Communications team members! Additionally, we look forward to seeing those who will be attending  our Enterprise Customer Advisory Board event, held Thursday, March 21st at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center. For further reading in preparation of what you will experience at the event, go to the  Oracle  + Talari Networks blog page for a comprehensive look at SD-WANs; download this recent Nemertes UC Security Whitepaper, “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You"; and see our Webinar “Is Your IP Telephony Network Vulnerable?”      

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 an...

SD-WAN

10 Ways a Failsafe SD-WAN Delivers Better QoE - Part 1

A few years ago, SD-WANs were innovative technical concepts with limited adoption. Not anymore. Growth of SD-WAN solutions is now escalating along a hockey stick-shaped trajectory.  Initially slow trial-balloon enterprise adoption has been followed by a rapid increase in investment. That said, not all SD-WAN solutions are created equally. Many are just better network management tools. Only a tiny number offer failsafe SD-WAN technology, helping get your traffic where you want it to go. With that in mind, let's focus on a main reason for choosing SD-WAN: better support for real-time operations across the enterprise. The notion of the real-time enterprise dates back to the early 2000s, when Gartner defined it as an organization that used up-to-date information to streamline its business functions. Real-time technologies like VoIP, videoconferencing and UCaaS, as well as other mission-critical enterprise applications, have helped turned this concept into a reality. End-users have high expectations for instantaneous application service and responsiveness. An unreliable network connection to an echoing VoIP call or interactive application – whether that application is SaaS, hosted in the cloud or at a private data center – will not only feel out-of-place, it will drive them away and lower productivity. Real-time customer experiences require the superior Quality of Experience (QoE) that a failsafe SD-WAN solution delivers. With that in mind, here are 10 of the top ways a failsafe SD-WAN platform boosts QoE across the network, starting with these five to whet your appetite, and then five more in a subsequent post: 1. MPLS-class high availability and QoE MPLS has long been the go-to option as the WAN architecture that delivers high availability together with predictable application performance (a.k.a. QoE). A failsafe SD-WAN provides these same benefits and many others, whether augmenting or replacing MPLS with inexpensive Internet connections, with a more cost-effective, flexible and carrier-agnostic solution. A failsafe SD-WAN harnesses the full aggregated bandwidth of the network and leverage multiple types of transport, including broadband, while also making real-time experiences more reliable. 2. Superior Cloud and SaaS access Cloud access and SaaS applications are integral to real-time experiences such as document collaboration among internal users, or chat-based call center engagement with external customers. MPLS WANs never excelled at cloud access, but failsafe SD-WANs do, through more varied connectivity options and the ability to connect to the cloud points of presence and SaaS using the same failsafe technology connecting private locations. 3. Truly intelligent traffic forwarding As WANs evolve, ensuring reliable performance for real-time applications like VoIP and video will sometimes require forwarding traffic across dissimilar link types.  For example, a failsafe SD-WAN can instantly determine when it's OK to split a session across multiple links, delivering predictable, superior performance.  Failsafe SD-WANs move far beyond limitations of simple load balancing that often lead to poor QoE thanks issues like excessive out-of-order packets and TCP retransmissions. 4. Real UCaaS Unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) achieved liftoff in the late 2010s as many organizations transitioned from their premises-based phone systems, ditching costly PBXes for more feature-rich hosted and cloud-based alternatives. RingCentral/Oracle customer RTI discussed this migration in a recent webinar.  UCaaS is a particularly great vehicle for enhanced customer care and remote team collaboration. A failsafe SD-WAN is the perfect complement to UCaaS thanks to multi-link connectivity with high QoE. 5.QoE with bi-directional, end-to-end QoS QoE and Quality of Service (QoS) go hand in hand. Whereas QoE is what the end user actually feels, QoS is the behind-the-scenes real-time network counterpart, referring to the performance of packet flows across the WAN. Routers and WAN Optimization devices have always been able to do outbound QoS on a WAN link  Failsafe SD-WAN technology performs continuous, unidirectional measurement of all traffic between locations, measures latency, jitter and packet loss and enables not merely outbound QoS, but end-to-end QoS, including otherwise almost-impossible to achieve QoS on shared inbound WAN links, and thus  can enables policies to ensure that QoS enforcement align with real-time requirements. Stay tuned for part two of this series where we'll cover five more ways a failsafe SD-WAN delivers real-time QoE.  In the meantime, please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs.

A few years ago, SD-WANs were innovative technical concepts with limited adoption. Not anymore. Growth of SD-WAN solutions is now escalating along a hockey stick-shaped trajectory.  Initially slow...

Security

We Must ‘All’ Push for Worldwide 5G Security NOW

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of innovation and security as we transition from 4G to 5G. Security encompasses the network itself (the RAN and CORE), the application layer, and the devices connecting to those networks. Where security used to be layered in “after the fact” we all know that with 5G it must be built in from the ground up. The influence we as a nation, and foreign countries, have over 5G standards will have wide-ranging impact as 5G is like nothing we have ever seen before. After decades of trying, 5G represents the first true convergence of IT technologies and telecoms business—making SS7, SIP and Diameter relics of the past as truly cloud-based, software-based data centers come into replace the Central Office. Our decades of lessons around SS7 and Diameter taught us that it’s not the technology that is the problem, but rather the partners we “trust” and to which we connect that can prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Many show themselves to be complicit, providing access to rogue companies and actors, which demands a re-think about network boundaries as we develop 5G. Currently, the work is falling squarely on the 3GPP SA WG 3, whose 3GPP TS 33.501 is the first 5G spec to come from the collaboration of industry, which worked with the GSMA to address issues like session hijacking, network spoofing and security architecture and procedures for 5G systems. We all want to get there fast, but we have to build in security and know that the standards are complete before we open up catastrophic vulnerabilities—catastrophic to not only individuals, but to industry, government and societies as a whole. It will be another year to year and a half before release 16 will be done, but an amazing amount of work has been done in release 15.  We focused on the 5G radio so that first 5G spectrum would work on existing 4G networks, and with the next release, we can look at the core network functionality, and defining things like congestion control and other basic fundamentals. There is yet more standards work underway, focusing on the tools and security controls that should be built into 5G design specifications in order to ensure 5G networks and devices are sufficiently secure from their inception. Consider that your connected toothbrush doesn’t need to have the same level of security as your pacemaker, so there has to first be classification of devices to ensure the most critical get the security treatment they demand.  That is something ATIS,for example, has been very active in when it comes to 5G security requirements.   The U.S. market is an anomaly in that it has as many as 400+ telephone companies—some with less than 1,000 subscribers—who will sometimes choose to do what’s fastest or cheapest rather than what’s most secure. As a result, it’s very important that not only the “big 4” telcos commit to 5G security, but that all of the small- to mid-sized telcos do so as well. It’s everyone’s responsibility to become well educated about how existing vulnerabilities will affect not only 5G, but even existing 3G and 4G networks. Recently I attended the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) panel “Mitigating Security Risks to Emerging 5G Networks” as Chairman of the Network Security Working Group of the Communications Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). I was joined by security experts from AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. State Department, and FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel delivered the keynote. She noted “these are interesting times” in that they represent the best option for making sure equipment manufacturers, CSPs, government agencies and consumers think about how to: Build security into devices; Implement security practices for the entire lifecycle of equipment; Educate IT and business leaders, as well as consumers about “cyberhygiene”; Ensure compliance to best practices for security; Establish a common language for managing risk. During the CSIS talk, Rosenworcel referred to the race to 5G as a microcosm for the broader debate about global leadership and economic security. And because it is the FCC that will have to license the millions of devices that come with the rise in 5G and the IoT, Rosenworcel urged that all of us consider some salient challenges and questions, such as: With every device emitting a radio frequency passing through the FCC, what role should the agency play when issuing licenses for public airways in terms of encouraging service providers and manufacturers to comply with security best practices? What level of disclosure should there be around security practices for the full lifecycle of equipment? Can there be a common language instituted for managing risk—across industry, government and different sectors? What can be done to evangelize better consumer cyberhygiene (i.e., when downloading software upgrades, when assessing connection security in cases of unlicensed airwaves)? With these questions looming, it is important that all stakeholders join forces, as did AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. State Department, Oracle and the FCC during the CSIS event. With Mobile World Congress coming to a close, and other events coming up, like TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World, we should continue to make the impact of nations’ decisions on 5G security a critical issue, and all should join forces to educate consumers, enterprises, governments and industries overall of the what breaches in IoT and 5G devices, networks and infrastructure could mean. It’s also extremely important that government agencies continue to work with leaders in the industry to address the risks posed by those suppliers’ who do “on site” development and customizations in ways that are risky to the greater whole who stand to otherwise benefit from all that 5G has to offer. For example, the work by the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue alerts and educational materials will help guide IT service providers and customers. To watch CISA’s most recent webinars, go here. Also, look at the this video “Securing the Network” about how to protect yourself as network virtualization creates a larger attack surface for cyber-criminals.

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of...

SD-WAN

Three Observations on the 2019 SD-WAN Outlook

By now, you may have already read a few takes on the road ahead for SD-WAN in 2019, and how that squares with what happened in 2018. We're going to take a slightly different approach to this annual tradition. It is February already after all.  In this article, instead of making predictions – which are difficult and rarely age well – here are three questions and observations about SD-WAN solutions.  Based on customer input, we'll expand on these possibilities for how they might evolve from 2018 to 2019 and beyond. 1. Is 2019 the year that MPLS erosion finally sets in? Every year, pundits offer fresh predictions about the impending decline of MPLS. The fact that they happen like clockwork brings to mind the Mark Twain quip that "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."  If MPLS were visibly collapsing, no one would need to keep predicting it. Is this year different, though? In 2019, analysts and customers are discussing two distinct possibilities for MPLS: MPLS could continue to expand, albeit at a fairly slow pace – seven percent compound annual growth from 2018 to 2023 is Research And Markets' forecast. In this case, MPLS remains a viable option for failsafe connectivity for years to come, likely together with SD-WAN for augmenting it with inexpensive Internet connections in many implementations. A precipitous drop thanks to the low service costs of multi-link broadband and 4G LTE.  Many organizations are intent on ditching or reducing MPLS investments.  Between 2017 and 2018, enterprise MPLS footprints the pace of enterprises considering alternative approaches jumped from 23 to 41 percent, according to Nemertes Research.  Of course, those enterprises that don't want to sacrifice MPLS-class high availability and QoE in such a move will require failsafe SD-WAN technology – something that most SD-WAN vendors have not developed. A joint Oracle/Talari & RingCentral customer RTI noted on a UCaaS Realities webinar earlier this month it was dropping its MPLS service due to cost thanks to the more-than-capable failsafe SD-WAN QoE it has attained for its dozens of branch locations.  Other customers are taking a hybrid approach and keeping a smaller MPLS footprint while adding multiple broadband connections to their SD-WAN instance. 2. Will the SD-WAN vendor market consolidate or diversify? Would you believe us if we said the answer might be "both"? Consolidation of the SD-WAN vendor landscape has already begun as major enterprise and networking vendors have sought a presence in a rapidly growing market. Look no further than Oracle acquiring Talari, with Oracle becoming the only major cloud provider with a SD-WAN offering.  That trend should continue in 2019, since the number of stand-alone SD-WAN companies is fairly high, creating many acquisition opportunities. At the same time, SD-WAN has also become a "feature set" integrated into other network infrastructure offerings, not just a standalone solution.  Many vendors are now claiming to be SD-WAN providers by virtue of weaving some rudimentary WAN aggregation functionality into their products; prospective customers should tread carefully, and will need to pay attention to whether these offerings can deliver the same level of reliability and application performance predictability that they have been used to with their MPLS-only WANs, as most simply cannot. Finally, rising demand for cloud-based managed SD-WAN service is also likely to bring some new faces into the marketplace. 3. What will UCaaS adoption look like in 2019? UCaaS represents an important growth opportunity for SD-WAN vendors. Cloud-based delivery models are becoming more common and customers both large and small are migrating many of their communications to UCaaS platforms. A Nemertes Research survey of 600 end-user organizations found 29 percent UCaaS adoption demonstrating large enterprise headroom for further uptake. The integration of SD-WAN services into UCaaS offerings, including Oracle SD-WAN partner RingCentral, has the potential to dramatically increase production deployment of SD-WAN and continue the strong adoption growth of the last two years. Maintaining voice and video call quality is another obvious area where having failsafe SD-WAN technology is critical for QoE and user satisfaction. We'll be thinking about these questions and others throughout 2019. In the meantime, please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WAN.

By now, you may have already read a few takes on the road ahead for SD-WAN in 2019, and how that squares with what happened in 2018. We're going to take a slightly different approach to this annual...

5G

Survey Says 5G Smart Ecosystems Critical To Going Digital

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings revealed that the overwhelming majority of enterprises are aware of the benefits that 5G can bring to their business, with 60 percent of IT and business executives saying they are already undertaking a strategic review of 5G network technologies, evaluating its potential impact on business objectives—the most salient being: Increasing employee productivity Reducing costs Enhancing customer experience Improving business agility When asked about the importance of network qualities, the IT decision-makers highlighted network speed and resilience as key benefits they expect, but interestingly, business decision-makers focused on QoE, which was the highest-ranked network quality they said they would like with 5G. At the heart of that QoE they cited “extremely reliable mobile connectivity” as critical. As for expectations around timing for 5G, it seems the majority of enterprises feel basic connectivity solutions to be deployed by 2021 and more advanced “transformative” capabilities to be available in the 2022-2023 timeframe. In the meantime, respondents noted that the “ecosystems” in which 5G will be structured will be based on 5G network-enabled solutions. That means CSPs will be critical enablers to those ecosystem buildouts. Because 5G-driven smart ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models, there will be key innovations that arise from their evolution, namely: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engines; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  With these innovations, smart ecosystems will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented software capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. To learn more about smart ecosystems, download our new white paper “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems Are the Future” and visit us at Mobile World Congress at booth 3B30 in Hall 3 at #MWC 2019. Find out how to expand your competitive advantage with transitional 4G-to-5G network and monetization solutions, advanced cloud capabilities, and end-to-end security and SD-WAN solutions.

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings...

Digital Experience

Digital Customer Experience: Are Your Customers Struggling to Connect with You?

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how companies interact with their customers and how decisions are made. Business leaders are taking note. In fact, a recent Nemertes Research survey of 700 global organizations found that as many as 85 percent of companies have developed or are planning to develop Digital Customer Experience (DCX) strategies. Many in the survey indicated they will devote measurable budgets and employees to the efforts as most companies, on average, have experienced the following success metrics after launching a DCX initiative: 50% improvement in customer ratings 
 15% reduction in operational costs 
 31% growth in sales 
 68% more customers won; 14% fewer customers lost 
 31% reduction in contact-center agent turnover 
. [Note: for access to the Nemertes paper, register for our Digital Customer Experience Webinar]. Here at Oracle Communications, we have found that companies that do not invest in DCX risk severe competitive disadvantage. Measurable success in revenue growth, cost reduction, and higher customer ratings requires a DCX strategy that helps address certain key questions, such as: Are your customers struggling to connect with you? Can you meet your customers where they are in terms of device, location, engagement channel choice? How well does your mobile app provide service and sales support? Would you like to improve customer satisfaction and convert service opportunities into sales? Coming into your store and having a personal meeting with you as a business owner or manager is often the last thing a customer will do. Instead, that customer wants to engage through a peferred device to immediately connect and create a meaningful experience. To create that desired experience, DCX transformation focuses on omnichannel communications, new methods of proactive collaboration and outreach and loyalty-building programs and campaigns. Businesses can empower customers to make DCX truly personalized, contextual and meaningful throughout the entire customer engagement lifecycle. To do so, they must increasingly realize the customers expect them to cater to their needs, regardless of where they are or whether they are using multiple devices to research/shop/buy/get support. Customers want a choice in the paths they can take, and rarely will they follow the paths that businesses have carefully laid out for them. As they navigate their own path of engagement, they build an individualized journey. Businesses have to honor that journey, meeting customers where they are, in context, with the appropriate interaction to make the most of their individualized journeys. As this happens, there will continue to be a dramatic shift in the balance of power between organizations and their customers across virtually all industries. Customers will continue to redefined their “ideal experience,” and business leaders will have to determine whether they are ready to take the next step. To learn more about that "next step,"  register for our upcoming Webinar “Real-World Success Metrics for Digital Customer Experience" and view our recent video: “Why Should Companies Invest in Digital Customer Engagement?” Additionally, you can view our recent eBook, “New Ways to Engage the Connected Customer.”

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how...

SD-WAN

Top-Four Benefits of Combining UCaaS with Failsafe SD-WAN

During its early years, the value proposition for a failsafe SD-WAN solution – i.e. one the delivers MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience (QoE) – such as Oracle's revolved around its ability to deliver MPLS-class performance at a fraction of the expense of actual MPLS, thanks to the ability to augment or replace MPLS with broadband transport options such as DSL, Cable and 4G LTE. Today, a failsafe SD-WAN is far more than a cost-cutting solution – it's also an engine offering improved application performance and an on-ramp to real-time and highly interactive  applications based in the cloud, including valuable collaboration solutions like Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) suites. How can you balance cost, complexity and performance in UCaaS deployments? On paper, UCaaS makes life easier for enterprises by providing a streamlined communications platform built from the ground up for their mobile and highly-distributed workforces. UCaaS seamlessly combines telephony, messaging, screen sharing, videoconferencing and more into a powerful cloud-based service that's both easy to scale and simple to manage. As an organization grows and evolves, its UCaaS deployment can scale to meet changing business and staff requirements without any of the complicated configurations or hardware management of a traditional PBX. So what's the catch? Start with the Wide Area Connectivity (WAN) used to access UCaaS. When you shift all of your vital real-time communications to the cloud, the WAN must accommodate greatly increased demand and QoS requirements. Dedicated WAN connections from UCaaS providers can help, but are pricey, while broadband Internet links by themselves lack the built-in QoS, let alone end-to-end QoE, to ensure an optimal user experience. Top-Four failsafe SD-WAN benefits Failsafe SD-WAN solutions strike the right balance between cost, ease of management and performance when making the move to using widely available Internet connectivity and UCaaS: Incorporation of inexpensive transport options like commodity Internet into a failsafe WAN capable of prioritizing and efficiently transporting demanding UCaaS traffic like VoIP and video Preservation and leverage of existing MPLS circuits, without requiring a costly rip-and-replace. Beyond the hard dollar cost savings versus WANs using only low-bandwidth, expensive private circuit WANs like MPLS, failsafe SD-WANs deliver cost reductions in the form of higher UCaaS reliability and lower downtime, which together boost company productivity. Bundling carrier-agnostic SD-WANs directly with the UCaaS solution is a natural fit. By pairing them, UCaaS, SaaS and other communication service providers simplify their customers' journeys to the cloud and enable them to focus more on business-related matters than the technical aspects of their WANs. Driving deeper into the SD-WAN-UCaaS connection Oracle recently hosted a UCaaS & SD-WAN webinar featuring a joint customer – Riverside Transport Inc. – a senior executive from RingCentral, and technology analyst Lee Doyle. This interactive session detailed the synergies of UCaaS and failsafe SD-WANs, noting how to reliably deploy services such as VoIP and SIP trunking and the overall shape of the market for cloud-based communications. To listen/watch, visit this page. In the meantime, please visit our FAQ or request an Oracle demo at www.oracle.com/sd-wan to learn more about the benefits of SD-WAN for UCaaS and other solutions.

During its early years, the value proposition for a failsafe SD-WAN solution – i.e. one the delivers MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience (QoE) – such as Oracle's...

5G

5G Smart Ecosystems Are Critical to Digital Business

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented platforms capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. With so many moving parts, service providers and enterprises must make sure to keep customer experience top of mind. Customers expect intuitive experiences and context-driven interactions that are real time and dynamic in nature. Whether moving toward smart homes, smart workplaces or smart cities, it is digital smart ecosystems that must somehow improve peoples’ lives. They can do so only by abstracting the complexity that comes with managing far-flung data, monetization models, partner ecosystems, clouds and connectivity infrastructure. To manage that complexity, there are three key innovations that will underpin successful Smart Ecosystems: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engine; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  These innovations will make CSPs the ideal enablers of smart ecosystems, particularly as they move toward 5G. Their role will be paramount in expanding beyond connectivity to application and service provisioning, as well as enablement of digital services like connected cars, entertainment and IoT management. A recent Oracle survey revealed that 49 percent of network and IT executives are exploring 5G-enabled smart city services, looking to 5G as a way to increase penetration in the enterprise market. As they evaluate roles in smart ecosystems, they will need to seek out solutions that help them to integrate network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications. They must also increasingly leverage analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in order to deliver a more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experience. To find out more about how to build and leverage digital smart ecosystems, download our recent white paper, “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems are the Future.”  

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented...

5G

What Does It Really Mean to Be in the Cloud?

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you have developing and running the software, the more continuous delivery and integration you have, the greater the opportunity to improve software quality with shorter cycles—and overall, the better off you are.   Microservices come into play in the operations realm, with each piece of deployed software having an independent lifecycle of upgrades and scalability. If you cannot scale and upgrade automatically, then you are not truly taking advantage of all the Cloud has to offer! Of course, there is more to operating in the Cloud than the aforementioned three concepts when building out a Cloud 2.0 journey. Below we offer up eight principles that have been foundational to Oracle Communications in establishing its own SaaS services. The principles are derived from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and we believe they are crucial to this journey: System Immutability: Since everything is code, and all changes are made through CI/CD, no manual configurations or customizations are allowed. This enforces an effective intrusion detection framework and any changes that are not part of the programmed pipeline are considered malicious. Automate Everything: Since all aspects of build, test, verification and deployment are automated, this enables a DevOps pipeline for rapid repair and minimizes human error factors. Disposability:  This is all about faster recovery from failure with regular repaving (re-deployment) where failing services are automatically removed and new ones deployed. Externalized Configuration: Decoupling the configuration from the software and treating it as a build artifact in a controlled and versioned manner enables development and production parity, with versioned configuration eliminating costly operational errors. Logs as Event Streams and Constant Telemetry: This is a fundamental enabler for better threat monitoring, forensics and diagnostics for an aggregated and time-ordered holistic view of events. Delegated Governance: This puts in place a business agility compliance enforcement and feedback loop for greater control of the rate of change in a DevOps environment. Independent Lifecycle: Independently upgrading, scaling and deploying each Microservice is paramount for supporting other cloud native principles as well as minimizing the amount of change in the system at a given time. These eight principles are enablers for better cloud operation. And as 5G introduces increased connectivity and speed, along with the need for more security and reliability, service providers will need the agility, flexibility and security of the Cloud and Cloud-Native principles.  By leveraging these principles, organizations will be able to evolve and prepare for 5G and its promise for innovative business models and new revenue streams. For more insights, view our on-demand webinar "5G and Cloud, Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators."   Also listen to other related webinars: 5G Core: How to Get There The Potential of Network Slicing

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you...

Community

Customer Advisory Boards Offer Unique Opportunities For Oracle Customers

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At these Customer Advisory Board (CAB) events, customers get direct access to experts in the Oracle Communications product teams, building relationships that help align and accelerate product innovation and implementation. Customers also engage in conversations and build relationships with peers — one of most unique aspects of CAB being the camaraderie and the ability to share individual experiences along with views of technology and business evolution. “CAB is a great platform where we get to meet the communities that are using similar types of products. It’s great to interact with peers who have similar domain knowledge and to be able to talk to them to see if they face similar challenges,” says SiriusXM’s Dalbir Gambhir, senior director, application development. “Also, we get to meet the oracle team that is working on innovation and advancement of products and processes.” Vittal Cooduvalli, senior director, application platform operations at Charter Communications also values the intimate sessions with Oracle experts: “The product sessions have been very valuable on two faces - one, in trying to understand the roadmap, and two, to correlate it to what we do in our business.” If you are interested in this unique experience of relationship building and having direct access to product and industry experts, you are welcome to join the Oracle Communications Customer Advisory Board meetings coming this spring: The Global Enterprise CAB to be held in conjunction with Enterprise Connect on March 21 in Orlando, Florida; The Global CSP CAB to be held April 9-10 at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores, CA The theme for both CABs will be “smart ecosystems,” with agendas that delve into areas such as 5G, IoT, Network Slices, SD-WAN, SaaS, Security, and Analytics.  Agendas span functional and business innovations along with security aspects of building these ecosystems.  Agendas also include discussions of the roles CSPs and enterprises can play in these innovations.   Subject matter experts and customers will have deep discussions about integrated network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications and how to leverage analytics, AI and ML. The goal is to help customers and partners build more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experiences for their subscribers. Breakout sessions will be organized in tracks focused on Enterprise Communications, Monetization, Orchestration, RODOD, Digital Business Experience, Session Delivery and Signaling (Spanning 3G, 4G, 5G). There will be deep dives on upcoming features, functionality, and use-cases. Also find out what’s up and coming in demonstrations taking place during networking breaks. How to Join the Community If you would like to attend either of the upcoming Oracle Communications CAB meetings so that you too can play a role in product direction and future releases, first check that you are eligible to attend as a customer. That means you must be licensed with one or more products in the areas of: Enterprise Communications Orchestration, RODOD and Digital Business Experience Monetization Session Delivery Signaling and Policy Please note that customers must have a valid and active Customer or Partner Participation Confidentiality Agreement (CPCA) in place to attend the CAB. Then, contact your Oracle Sales Representative to become a part of the community.   1.    

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At...

Security

What to do? Botnets on the Rise with Voice-Enabled Smart Devices

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made up of PCS, handsets, servers and devices now bursts with millions of tiny, connected “things” — in homes and enterprises: security cameras, door locks, DVRs, WiFi routers, printers, appliances, monitors. What happens when millions more users begin streaming music, setting timers, controlling in-home and in-office devices with the IoT-driven digital services? How many millions of potentially “infected” “things” will make us all vulnerable to sabotage and espionage? Of particular concern are botnet-driven malware attacks, like the Hide-n-Seek and Mirai attacks. Not too long ago, 50,000 unsecured IP surveillance cameras in Japan carried out a massive DDoS botnet attack. These types of attacks can be self propagating and trigger massive IoT infections, and even DoS attacks. These attacks are even “monetized, with cryptocurrency sites becoming the most recent target. And as perpetrators succeed, they make the code publicly available so that copycats can race to also capture their “15 minutes of fame” —albeit anonymously. These threats are certainly catching the attention of service providers offering smart-home and intelligent-business services, but even “hardening” of devices cannot fully offset what manufacturers fail to do. For this reason, most security and IT professionals never “breathe easy.” They know the bad guys are racing to be 20 steps ahead, as evidenced in a recent Oracle Communications’ industry survey that shows security as the #1 network challenge. We expect security to be an increasing concern with the migration from 4G to 5G architecture and the expansion of the IoT. As the surface area of security risk exposure expands, CSP customers and enterprises will demand that suppliers invest in broader network and web application security—anything that helps them gain visibility into botnet activity and to detect when bots are being distributed in various parts of their networks. In that vein, Oracle Communications has invested significantly in 5G next-gen core security, as well as improving its capabilities to detect new security threats with the acquisition of DNS pioneer DYN. The global DNS is a critical core component and a natural extension to Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure and Network solutions — all of which are intrinsically architected with Security as a number-one priority. For CSPs and their enterprise customers to protect against botnets, they have to continue to explore solutions that are securely architected, securely deployed, securely maintained and independently verified. That is the case, for example, with Oracle Communications Session Border Controller, which offers SBC denial of service (DoS) self-protection. The SBC is just one example of the Oracle Communications solutions available to provide multiple levels of security. And as our CSP and enterprise customers get into IoT-driven digital services and feel the pressure to ensure their customers, partners and employees are protected from botnet-driven malware attacks, they will see that security is part of our DNA, as we have architected foundational solutions like Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Autonomous Database with security as a number-one priority. To read more about defeating malicious bots, go here. And to learn more about security best practices, go here.  

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made...