The Operators’ Role in the Digital Economy
NFV introduces two potential roles for operators in the cloud era of digital services:
- Digital Service Aggregators Customers are already accustomed to buying digital services from a marketplace aggregator, so why not leverage that familiarity? Through in-house service development and partnership with key third-party digital service providers, operators could become the digital service aggregators that make it fast, affordable and effortless for customers to build their personal digital ecosystems.
- Network Service Providers Again, virtual network functions are indistinguishable from most digital services – both
are software components running in the cloud. In the new digital economy, operators should grant customers
the ability to provision their own network services, even if they don’t realise that the service they provision is a network function. The objective is to give customers the personalisation they seek.
A Three-Tiered Approach to Digital Service Lifecycle Management
How do operators actually support an abstracted, composable view of digital services? The answer is to view network functionality as a three-tiered system:
- 1. At the bottom is a resource management layer, which comprises the physical and virtual systems that support compute, storage and network functions. This layer determines how to deploy resources in response to requests for new digital services.
- In the middle is the digital service lifecycle management layer, which tells the resource management layer what type of service it wants to deploy and which policies should govern that deployment.
- At the top is the business management layer, which includes functions that allow customers to configure, order and pay for the products that are composed at the digital service lifecycle management layer.
This three-tiered system is far better equipped to offer the agility and flexibility needed to deliver on-demand personalised service creation. A digital service catalogue is a crucial component to the digital service lifecycle management layer, because it is this catalogue that would house all of the different management rule sets that govern service composition. The catalogue should be sup- ported by an active inventory, which houses abstract digital service definitions, to ensure that each service combination is feasible, secure and falls within appropriate service level agreements (SLA).
To the customer, the digital service catalogue is no more than a design studio with which customers can build their ideal personal digital ecosystem. Backed by the three-tiered digital service lifecycle management approach, the catalogue is the vehicle through which customers can enjoy a dynamic highly personalised digital service experience.
With satisfied customers consuming revenue-driving digital services, operators are better able to compete in the digital econo- my. This is what can happen when you view NFV from a business, rather than solely technical, perspective.