Mobile network operators are building roadmaps to 5G, deployment of fifth-generation networking technology and commercialize it to a huge population in less time. Now, as they proceed, a new concept of DevOps is being applied in telecommunications that was quite popular in IT industry previously. Telcos are initializing the implementation of DevOps practices to meet the requirements of 5G networks and deliver to customer in the presence of an environment having widely distributed resources and exclusive constraints on quality of service. As per a research, it is estimated that the size of DevOps market will grow from 2.90 Bn USD in 2017 to 10.31 Bn USD by the year 2023 progressing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 24.7% during the predicted period. The overall demand for DevOps services and solutions is anticipated to gain huge traction among enterprises in the years to come, as there is a simultaneous increase in the need for faster application delivery to customers on a broader area with no compromise in quality of products and services. All these are driven by several factors – lower costs, flexibility and agility in operations, less time in supplying products.
Continuous everything with DevOps practices
DevOps is considered to be an interactive approach to product development, deployment, operation and management encompassing core activities such as collaboration, communication, integration and automation. Further, it involves working in a collaborative way with the customer where the approach starts with setting up of requirements and continues with the development and running of critical operational processes. DevOps in telecommunications is being utilized as a tool to deliver new software versions to variety of customers depending upon their diverse requirements that will satisfy numerous use cases.
Advantages of DevOps in this era of new-age technologies
- DevOps unifies multiple departments involved in software development as a single team with strictly defined goals and stages to achieve it.
- Puts continuous practices of rigorous integration, testing, deployment etc. as it segregates development process in small phases.
- Accelerates time-to-market with improved agility.
- Improved efficiency in error detection.
- Enhanced overall productivity with reduction in costs and man-hours.
Why operators are preferring DevOps in building more agile 5G telecom networks?
Here are some key characteristics of 5G DevOps that makes it an ideal choice for mobile network operators to go ahead with this approach, fasten their 5G development and curb customer time to environment. They are as follows:
- Development of a blue print – transformation roadmap post assessment of current business agility and automation level
- Application of state-of-the-art technologies such as network slicing, SDN, NFV, multi-access edge computing, provision for private and hybrid cloud services
- Putting automation into action for multiple processes like lifecycle automation, test automation, integration of DevOps pipeline and tool
- Orchestration of policy-based network services
- Use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to self-mechanize business processes.
- Creating frameworks instantly and validating use cases for variety of industries at an early stage
- Quick collaboration with third-party vendors to make immediate changes in 5G requirements as and when required.
- Supports agile transformation that is scalable.
- Delivery processes are optimized with defined continuous quality assurance.
- Lower Operational Expenditure (OPEX) and Capital Expenditure (CAPEX)
How is DevOps helping in 5G deployment?
With the 5G deployment, operators need to consistently integrate and configure technical equipments. Applying 5G DevOps practices, mobile carriers undergo activities smoothly as they move ahead with CI/CD method which is the Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment method especially when changes are required round-the-clock while configuring network settings. Operators conduct 5G tests to check whether all the equipments are performing properly and analyse it based on the output signals they receive, thereby saving their time to identify the areas having issues and fix it with automated configured settings. A quick glance of CI/CD method used in DevOps approach:
Continuous Integration: It is an automated process in which secured source code is frequently integrated into source baselines and binary elements into system baselines.
Continuous Delivery: Software product versions of integrated software that are ready to get installed are automated with secure and frequent internal provisioning.
Continuous Release: A self-mechanism to deliver software product to external customers and clients provisioned frequently in a secured way.
Continuous Deployment: An automated process for regular production, monitoring and/or testing, and deployment of software products and customer equipment by secured means in a live environment.
The continuous implementation of DevOps practices in the telecom industry has given a boost to communication service providers as they prepare themselves to stand out in this competitive market and serve their customers with enhanced mobile connectivity and access to Internet globally. Though it is still on the verge of being deployed on a large scale, operators who are choosing this are surely becoming the winners. DevOps came as a boon for operators to provide a quick and more efficient method of constant mechanized processes at fixed intervals that is required while developing such complex networks like 5G, thus, reducing operational costs and man-hours.