Open standards, open source projects and other common models are crucial to 5G, according to Klaus Martiny, chair of the ETSI Zero-Touch Network and Service Management Industry Specification Group (ZSM ISG). At the same time, says Martiny, so is being true to yourself.
According to Martiny, 5G automation -- with the strategy that drives it -- ultimately boils down to simplification. This simplification process, however, is made complex by the competition of multiple open standards, open source projects and other 5G and automation models. How can a telco possibly choose in which direction to go and with which organization to align?
In this Q&A, lightly edited for length and clarity, Martiny explains how, for the modern telco, the answer lies within.
Telco Transformation: What is the role, as you see it, of automation for the present and future buildouts of 5G networks, services and applications?
Klaus Martiny: I think it is very essential not only for 5G but also for the telecommunication companies of the future. In principle, 5G is only a use case ... because we are [dealing with] the complexity in our network space of SDN/NFV slicing and all of this nice technology. And from that point of view, we need automation in order to manage our future networks. 5G is an example of that.
Simplification is one key element of the discussion that we have [at ETSI ZSM ISG] because we are creating, really, a complex network technology -- and that is something that is really difficult to manage in the future. And [therefore] we are really looking for simplification of the architecture of different technologies.
TT: So then how do you achieve the simplification that you see as essential to this 5G future? And what is the role of open standards and open source projects?
KM: To make a decision as to what are the best technologies to achieve that -- maybe it's too early to say that. We need a little more time to understand what huge obstacles stand in the way of achieving automation based on simplification. I think the crucial thing is that we have so many different standards organizations with different standards, so it will be hard to achieve simplification. The only way we can achieve that is if you have a common discussion about it. I have been long enough in this business, and we started this discussion about, for example, a common information model, a common data model, two years ago. The starting point was in ETSI NFV. And I see some openness in our industry; people are willing to find the common information models, for example. The willingness is there, the openness is there, because what is really clear is that if we do not find a way to achieve simplification in automation, then it will have a really hard impact on the quality service providers are delivering to the customers, because we can't move on with the … solution that we had yesterday.
I think that open standards represent a key element if you're talking about 5G implementation and how to achieve automation. We need those; we need the classic standardization, and we need the benefit from the open source projects as well. And those are very important for us. And the tricky thing is that for the time being they are running more in parallel with their own ideas and their own approaches. But we have to find a way how we can combine that as a useful activity for the industry.
TT: What do service providers need to be thinking about strategically in regards to their 5G automation roadmaps?
KM: I think each of them has their own ideas and that makes it a bit complicated to find a joint approach to automation because of the history that each of the service providers have and where they are coming from.
We can give them a framework so that that each of them finds their own approach to achieve automation for their own company -- because, at Deutsche Telekom, we have a different situation than at Vodafone, or at Telefonica. In principle all of them are going for automation, but the way to achieve that really depends on the history of the company. And from my point of view, it will be really, really interesting to see how different service providers go there and innovate because of the technology that we are implementing now -- NFV, and the next steps in 5G. There's also an impact on the organizations of the companies, and also on the skills of the people; it's not only a technology change, a technology move … but there is also an impact on the DNA of a company. That really is important for each of the companies, and each of them has to find their own way which fits their current DNA.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation