Heavy Reading: Cloud Defines a New Voice Infrastructure Strategy

Last month Level 3 and Alianza announced the release of a new Heavy Reading white paper Migrating Service Provider Voice Infrastructure to the Cloud.

If you’ve been following Alianza you know we are big believers in the cloud as a replacement for traditional voice infrastructure for communication service providers (CSPs), but we wanted to see what the market thought. We worked with Heavy Reading’s prime analyst on all things VoIP, Jim Hodges, over the last six months on this project looking at voice evolution for CSPs.

This study is great validation in moving to a new, cloud-based solution to deliver and manage voice services. The project also provided measurement of the painful state of voice today that service providers experience; these are issues we’ve been exploring in our blog and conversations with CSPs, and we now have hard data to share.

Jim writes that:

“TDM and early-generation VoIP models are no longer viable, which is driving CSPs to define and adopt a new voice strategy, which addresses improved cost structure, operational simplicity and agile service delivery.”

The common thought is that strategy will be NFV software and cloud building. But as the research and white paper show, there is strong interest in using virtualized software solutions that are cloud-sourced. Adoption of a cloud voice platform (which was defined for survey participants), ranks among the top three priorities for voice platform evolution and 77% of CSPs surveyed will consider a cloud voice platform as a solution within the next three years.

Another data point from the survey, that didn’t get published in the white paper, is more broadly about cloud-based solutions helping communication service providers: 83% of respondents said somewhat or very likely that they’d use a XaaS option for replacing or augmenting network infrastructure. Cloud voice platforms align with that inclination to sourcing technology from the cloud.

Why Now

There are a number of reasons the cloud-centric way to CSP voice is picking up steam.

  • Today’ state of voice and aging voice networks demand change – margins are under pressure, TDM and VoIP 1.0 are obsolete or end-of-life, operational complexity, the changes in the regulatory environment; some of these came through as pain points in today’s networks in the white paper
  • Voice remains important: it’s a $50-60 billion market in North America (and shifting to VoIP); further, 81% of CSP respondents agree that voice helps drive adoption of other services in the portfolio
  • Voice TCO needs to get aligned with the market—and we argue the business model also needs to be success-based and SaaS
  • Virtualization is a key technology evolution but it’s going to be a hard, long road to rebuild their voice network for many CSPs and the cloud gets them there quicker
  • CSPs need to be more responsive to the market and the complexity of building, integrating, and troubleshooting the multi-vendor NFV network will hinder that agility

After years of deploying traditional voice network platforms, CSPs are ready to shift to the cloud. By adopting a cloud voice platform, CSPs can reduce operating costs and enhance service innovation while delivering a service model that benefits customers and their evolving voice communications needs.

Jim Hodges, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading

Any CSP, big or small, especially ones with existing voice networks, should check out this white paper; it can help you define your next-generation roadmap. Download your copy!