ORLANDO -- MEF 2017 -- Just as they're expending numerous resources to deploy fiber and transform their architectures, Tier One operators are investing big money to make themselves seem smaller.
Service providers want to fully leverage agile methodologies and DevOps but recognize it takes more than an app store full of software tools or training in the latest programming languages, panelists told the MEF 2017 audience in Orlando. Rather, it's a cultural shift that must spread across the entire organization for operators to successfully become adept at providing customers with the on-demand services, scalability and elasticity enterprises clamor for. This shift, is not, of course, happening in a vacuum, and service providers are propelled to embrace this philosophy while old -- and new -- competitors nip at their heels.
At Zayo Holdings, which provides fiber and infrastructure services, cross-discipline teams include a classic network engineer and software development staff along with other professionals, said Steve Fisher, chief technology officer for Enterprise Networks at Zayo Group Inc. (NYSE: ZAYO) during a service provider panel discussion today.
"We took this classic agile approach and we broke up what is the classic product owner into two separate roles," he said, noting that Zayo's technology teams now include a technical product owner and someone who ensures the result delivers the necessary business value.
The process was not necessarily easy or well received at first, but perseverance, communication and end results ultimately paid off, said Fisher.
"I can't emphasize enough how interesting it's been to watch teams form, certainly for some of the team members we brought into that process they wanted to kill me," he said to audience laughter. "When they realized value was delivered fast, it then got easier. They see that success every couple of weeks and... that cultural move has been huge."
For its part, Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) is currently going through the process of aligning its culture to the idea of "minimum viable product," said Jean-Claude Geha, senior vice president of DT's International Delivery Unit (SVP IDU). Whereas DT might have partnered with a systems integrator on certain tasks, it now takes on more of those development jobs internally, he said.
"Why aren't we going to Accenture or IBM? Because we're becoming IT companies, and the nature of what we're doing is in the style of development," said Geha.
Like a disruptor that simply wants to enter a market, DT's minimal viable product approach recognizes developers and designers cannot consider all requirements of a service or product, and speed plays a more important role than completeness, he said.
"Speed is of the essence. If the vendors or suppliers are not there in time, we are investing in legacy," Geha said.
Although the recently finalized acquisition of Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) by CenturyLink could make agile development and DevOps appear a distant dream, it actually provided an opportunity for the merged company to focus on speedy development from Day One, said Travis Ewert, vice president of Software Defined Services & Big Data at CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL).
The service provider has spent "a ton of time working on the infrastructure side of it," including assets like control automation and abstraction layers, he said. These investments and the provider's extensive fiber reach are the foundation of a platform CenturyLink is building to enable reusable consumer services, APIs and software, said Ewert.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.