As IT becomes more complex to manage, providers of IT services are starting to come to terms with the idea that a major upgrade to the platforms they use to deliver those services is all but inevitable. In fact, a new report from the market research firm Rayno Media finds that the market for service provider lifecycle service orchestration (LSO) software could be valued at $2.75 billion by 2019.
The simple truth of the matter is that most of the processes used to manage IT are still far too manual. While advancements have been made in terms of provisioning virtual machines and now containers such as Docker, it still takes weeks to provision network services. To address that issue, there is a major migration on the horizon to software defined networking (SDNs) and eventually to network function virtualization (NFV) software.
Advantages to moving toward SDNs and NFV software
In the case of SDNs, managing networking infrastructure using command line interfaces will give way to a more programmatic approach that enables administrators to invoke application programming interfaces (APIs) to provision network services in minutes rather than weeks.
NFVs will eliminate the need for many of the appliances that clutter networks today. Instead, network functions once handled by the appliances will be delivered as a piece of software that runs on commodity silicon or an x86 server.
On top of that foundation, the research report says there will emerge a new generation of LSO software that leverages APIs to integrate the orchestration, fulfillment, control, performance optimization, assurance, usage, analytics, security, and policy management of enterprise networking services.
It's time to build your own LSO software platform
The primary decision facing IT service providers today is the degree to which they want to start crafting LSO platforms themselves. From a primordial soup perspective, the core technologies needed to build an LSO software platform already exist. What’s missing is a set of vendors that have merged all those capabilities into a single platform.
It is clear that every vendor that provides some flavor of an operational support system (OSS) is racing to get there, though. For example, Cisco and Microsoft recently announced that they are collaborating on building such an offering that they plan to host in the cloud. The decision facing IT service providers is whether to wait for those next-generation OSS platforms to arrive or to start building a custom OSS platform that theoretically might provide some form of competitive advantage.
Regardless of what choice is made, there’s no doubt that IT services providers will need to make these investments to stay competitive. Customers are not only going to expect that IT service providers will be agile enough to keep up with the needs of a much more dynamic IT environment. They are going to demand that IT service providers have the analytics capabilities necessary to correlate the impact any given IT event might have on their business.
In that context, the IT service provider will become a clearing house for a massive amount of information regarding business processes. IT service providers that can’t play at that level won’t even be considered as an option.
On the upside, IT service providers that do make the required LSO software investments will increasing become nothing less than indispensable to their customers.