CenturyLink's SVP of platforms, Jared Wray, said his company is following "three tenants" of transformation to move the company into a New IP way of doing business and that other service providers need to do the same.
During his keynote on Day 2 of the Big Telecom Event in Chicago, Wray referred to this shift in doing business as "Oompa Loompas vs. robots," or going from a manual strategy to an automated one. The goal is to enable customers and partners to innovate and develop quickly using APIs, and to provide an on-demand experience.
"We are seeing that third platform generation of companies -- every single company we talk to -- is saying, 'Where are your APIs?' 'How do I program against all your services?'" he said. "No longer are you just the service provider, you are the platform that [they] are building off of." (See Pics: BTE Breakfast, Ping Pong & Robots.)
Will Work for Chocolate
Wray says Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas represent the "manual effort" behind making something happen. Instead, today's network transformation needs to be automated, programmable and accessible.
Wray said this realization was a huge change for CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), and that the company spent 18 months "learning new tricks," including building APIs, doing orchestration and more.
As part of "learning new tricks" CenturyLink put together three tenets that it follows for everything, and Wray recommended every company do the same because, "this is what platforming looks like and this is what customers are asking for:"
The Three Tenets
Automated This means no human intervention at all because automation breeds innovation, Wray said. He gave the example of Facebook as a way to prove his point here. "How they built and scaled their system is fully automated," he said. "That's how they are able to release so fast." Another example Wray gave was Google and its Borg large-scale cluster management technology. To date, Wray said the telecom industry has failed to recognize the importance and value of automation. "We have always tried to put a human in between because we want to control it," Wray said. "This is a big change for us."
Programmable This is one of the biggest tenets that the industry talks about, said Wray. At CenturyLink, when the company started down the transformation path, it decided that everything had to be programmable and public -- a huge shift. "When we built our CenturyLink cloud, we put it in the forefront. The APIs get built first," he said. "Our customers watch for our API doctrines so they know what's coming out next and program against them," he said, adding, "Automation is key because with a fully programmable API interface, anything can be built on top of you, and that's where it gets very cool."
Accessible Providers should make sure their applications can be easily used and maintained, said Wray. Multiple avenues -- from a mobile interface to a control portal to an application interface to a command line utility -- need to be available not only for customers and partners, but for the next step internally. "Instead of thinking about building internal applications so that people can run your tools, build your tools so that your teams can run on them also," said Wray.
Included in accessibility is price. "We have gone to a very on-demand model," noted Wray. Customers want instant gratification, he said. "No more signing contracts. No more asking them to commit to something upfront. You want them to move to a model that they can try and fail extremely fast."
Wray admits these are big ideas, and they represent a big shift that's not easy for the industry to make. However, as he said, automation and scalability are essential to giving the customer and partner the end result that they want -- an on-demand experience that they can get up and running fast. "Customers today know what they need to build," he said. "We need to give them the interface to [do] that."
Deploying New IP networks and services requires not only a new way of thinking but also a new way of building platforms and services, and getting there is not easy, especially when it comes to orchestration.