Windstream: SDN, Service Delivery Acceleration and Being a Duck
May 24, 2016
While listening to the various technology, product, and service updates from Windstream at their recent analyst summit, I was reminded of an old adage:
“Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath.”
For the most part, today’s service providers are virtual ducks: Presenting a fully integrated solution portfolio to customers, but paddling like the dickens when it comes time to actually provision and deploy those services. “Chair-swiveling” is a common term among carriers, referring to the notion that very human operators have to manually move between various platforms to configure network and voice services based on customer requirements.
For Windstream, the chair swiveling has been particularly acute. Following a series of high-profile acquisitions starting in 2010, the provider has had to contend with multiple billing and operations platforms, each with a subset of their customers residing on them. Arguably more so than any of its competitors, Windstream has come to terms with the fact that it struggles with quickly and efficiently deploying its network and voice services to customers. The “simple” approach that Windstream could have taken would be to just rationalize their network and voice products under one of the existing platforms and essentially create a new status quo.
Instead, the provider’s executive team is looking to software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies to take their service delivery to the next level. Windstream’s plan involves building an orchestration layer that operates between the ordering systems and the network infrastructure. Through orchestration, many of the processes involved for provisioning and deploying services will be automated, using information directly from the order itself. Combined with an equally aggressive VoIP standardization project, Windstream should see direct operational efficiencies and lowered deployment times for VoIP services, driving to the ultimate goal of improving the ongoing experience for the customer.
In an age where cloud-based services provide instant provisioning and ultimately immediate gratification for the user, the providers of network and voice services simply have to step up their game. It is reassuring to see Windstream take up the challenge.
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