Until recently, many telecommunications companies, or telcos, hesitated to shift their network operations and management to software-as-a-service (SaaS) models that rely on the public cloud due to concerns about data security. However, the maturation of the public cloud and security advances have now made it possible for telcos to overcome their reluctance and benefit from the cost savings and business agility that public clouds offer, while still maintaining high levels of security.
Telecom SaaS has higher demands for resilience, performance, availability, and security compared to typical IT applications. Downtime is unacceptable for telecom infrastructure, so telecom SaaS applications must be designed for both performance and resilience.
Telecom networks and IT networks have historically followed separate paths, but the convergence of the two in recent decades presents an opportunity for telcos to benefit from advancements in the IT field, specifically the emergence of the public cloud. Just like other industries such as finance and healthcare, telcos can transform themselves and enjoy the elasticity, scalability, cost optimization, and business agility that the cloud provides.
When operating in the public cloud, security and compliance are a shared responsibility. The cloud provider takes care of the security of the cloud platform, while the telco is responsible for the security of the applications they operate within the cloud. The division of responsibilities varies depending on the type of cloud service used, such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or software-as-a-service (SaaS).
To fully harness the benefits of the public cloud, telcos should avoid lift-and-shift strategies and adopt cloud-native approaches. This involves driving transformational change in the culture, organization, and applications to emphasize speed and innovation through constant iteration. Telcos should invest in upskilling their workforce, developing a DevSecOps culture, implementing new governance models for the cloud, and transforming procurement departments to support new commercial operating models.
Telcos should also work closely with the supply chain to modernize legacy telco nodes to cloud-native functions using microservices and API-based architectures that leverage the scalability, elasticity, and resilience of public clouds.
SaaS models offer telcos the least security burdens and the quickest path to reaping the benefits of the public cloud. Telcos can leave the heavy-lifting of running secure, cloud-native applications to SaaS providers, allowing them to focus on delivering digital services to customers. Public cloud and SaaS providers offer highly-available, carrier-grade applications with built-in redundancy and fault-tolerance. They also meet specific compliance obligations and invest more in security than most single enterprises can on their own.
The public cloud and Telecom SaaS providers have matured, allowing telcos to become more agile, take advantage of elasticity and scalability, optimize costs, and maintain high-security postures. Telcos can now benefit from the capabilities of the public cloud without compromising on security.