Infrastructure automation is key to accelerate time-to-market.
Most telecom projects involve installing an Oracle RAC cluster, a SAN, application server clusters, etc. Only the time it takes to procure and install the basic hardware and software takes months. We are not even talking about the costs…
If you want to launch new ideas every month, you have to use Cloud Computing. This can be public cloud, private cloud or hybrid cloud. However even then too much time is spend on installation and configuration of software.
Infrastructure automation is about making a team productive in quickly launching new services or updating existing services. Infrastructure starts with having a standardized development environment, automated build tools (e.g. Maven or Ant for Java), continuous test automation (junit but also Hudson or Cruisecontrol), etc. The next step would be to also automate deployment (e.g. Puppet & mCollective from PuppetLabs) of server software and Cloud infrastructure.
This type of automation is often 90% equal so having a standardized framework would extremely shorten the times to get software development up and running as well as deploying it into test and production environments.
This would however only be the start of the journey. Dotcoms launch new features on a weekly or even daily basis. They monitor in detail what users do and often launch multiple alternative versions of a new feature. Gradual deployment of small features allows to see performance problems strait away and avoids extensive regression tests and fast rollback.
Let’s see how this could be applied in telecom.
The key to success is copying Google. Google is having standardized architecture components that are reused among different teams (e.g. BigTable). By building up a shared infrastructure and the tools to quickly deploy new services onto it or update existing features, time to market can be dramatically reduced. Infrastructure is a secret competitive weapon that too few companies use.