The telco industry is developing rapidly. But while technology plays a decisive role in a CSP’s recipe for success, many struggle to keep up with the competition due to an inappropriate, outdated technological basis.
Innovation in evolved architectures: How CSPs can successfully implement new business initiatives despite legacy systems and ongoing operation
Heterogenous, historically grown system landscapes often have become overwhelmingly complex over time. The consequence: Quick adaptation of business processes to changing market requirements is impossible. Resulting low development speed and slow release cycles lead to long time-to-market and excessive costs. Nowadays requirements, such as real-time data access or a user-focused customer experience, stretch the boundaries of legacy applications beyond their limits. A vicious circle constantly decreasing the capabilities to innovate and react to market changes.
Let’s take a step back and imagine a state-of-the-art system environment developed on a clean slate. Based on open standards and with a clear separation of concerns it would allow for quick and flexible anticipation of upcoming innovations. API-first design and a microservice-oriented architecture offer the possibility to replace or combine individual modules as necessary to meet changing business requirements. Micro frontends provide the building blocks for personalized user journeys. With the IT processes following agile business behavior, the company will be fit for the future.
Generally, the “composable business” model refers to modularization and composability as the foundation not only of corporate IT, but a company’s organizational structures as a whole. Composable business covers four topics:
A composable enterprise will be able to re-orchestrate its processes and services flexibly into new “compositions”, allowing quick adaption to new market conditions.
Now, CSPs usually do not have the luxury of rebuilding their IT completely from scratch. While it is necessary to renew the technological basis for future developments, it is even more crucial to guarantee ongoing operation.
With a clear picture of the target architecture in mind, iterative refactoring of small chunks of an application has proven successful to mitigate risk while working towards the desired goal. “Lift & shift” projects, where legacy systems are solely hauled into the cloud, should be avoided as they usually add even more complexity and slow down the transition. Striving for a modular structure with low coupling ensures that every task can be done step by step in an evolutionary process – entirely without a big bang.
The fewer interdependencies, the easier an application and its functionality can be adapted to the composable architecture pattern. Thus, it is recommended to start the migration process with smaller components, as the complexity of larger modules will be gradually reduced as time goes by. At the end, it will become natural to adapt an enterprises infrastructure and business flows flexibly to changing external factors as part of a continuous process.
In its “Predicts 2022: Reshaping CSP Technology and Operations Strategies,” the market research and consulting company Gartner discusses how the success of new products and business activities requires changes in the operating model:
No single application can fulfill all a CSP’s needs from the get-go. On route to a composable enterprise, it is a good practice to follow the “buy & build” pattern; that is, to build custom modules providing additional functionality on top of an expandable standard software. Here it has proven effective to rely on an adaptive mix of best-of-breed and open-source software based on e.g.:
A system landscape built around these principles is not just extremely powerful, it is also expandable and thus future-proof. Following the composable architecture’s modular, the functional levels can be organized in layers that take on specific areas:
The composable business model helps CSPs with successfully rebuilding their organizational and technological foundations. By iterative modularization and replacement of legacy applications they will be able to regain development speed and reduce costs. Prioritization of business-critical components leads to immediate improvements of time-to-market, innovation capabilities and user experience. They can adapt quickly to market changes and better fulfil their customers’ needs.