The concept of a zero-touch network is not new to those in the telecoms industry, however, there is no clear definition of what it entails. One definition is that it is a network that, over time, automatically ensures high availability, reliability, and efficiency of its service delivery. In technical terms, a zero-touch network is a management system that uses the principles of virtualization and software-defined networking.
The push behind making the zero-touch network happen all stems from the need to deliver great customer experience. With the rapidly increasing evolution of technology, customers have grown to expect faster and reliable ICT (Information and Communication Technology) service. This increase puts pressure and more demanding expectation from ICT service providers. Interestingly, this increases the willingness of the customer to pay more for high-speed, reliable and effective service.
What does this mean for network providers?
Network providers such as Google or Facebook are faced with the challenge of providing platforms that working and functional for all users at any time. This can be achieved through cloud deployment, alternative routing, and orchestration.
The same challenge is faced by mobile network providers such as MTN and Vodacom. Mobile network providers will need to provide good connectivity in a limited physical space and the meaning of a zero-touch network leads to the automation of mobile networks.
As mentioned previously, the deployment of new network foundations like 5G has driven the requirement for network transformation and radically change how networks operate today. These changes come with their own set of challenges such as capacity, latency, reliability, customer experience, global scalability and machine to machine communication support.
Networks are being transformed into programmable, software-driven, service-based and holistically-managed infrastructures, utilizing enablers and catalysts, such as NFV, SDN and edge computing.