AI to revolutionise telcos, says Cloudera's Anthony Behan

AI is not only helping to improve network resilience, but it is taking the guesswork out of proactive maintenance
Anthony Behan, Managing Director for Communications, Media & Entertainment at Cloudera, speaks about how AI is now revolutionising the telco industry

In a rapidly changing world where businesses are working to utilise new technologies in a more sophisticated way, it is clear that AI can help automate routine processes and streamline workloads within the cloud and wider telecommunications industry.

AI Magazine speaks with Anthony Behan, Managing Director for Communications, Media & Entertainment at Cloudera about how businesses can best handle AI and cloud migration.

Here, he speaks about how AI is revolutionising the telco industry, discussing network resilience and customer interactions. In addition, he highlights how Cloudera helps its telco customers with their data architecture, AI and cloud migration decisions.

How do you think AI is revolutionising the telco industry?

AI is not only helping to improve network resilience, but it is taking the guesswork out of proactive maintenance. For example, AI can analyse indicators of adverse weather events, correlating it with consumption patterns and other network data, that may impact network performance, or even cause an outage. 

As a result, telcos can now predict where engineering assistance may be required ahead of time to make defences more robust.

It can also be used to predict patterns of human behaviour. For example, people may work from home more if the weather is poor, around national holidays, or events like teacher strikes, putting more strain on services in their area. Likewise, if the weather is good and people are commuting into cities, this will put more strain on inner city networks. 

Finally, AI and ML tools can also forecast surges in traffic and autonomously analyse workloads to decrease strain on networks. The use of these tools is something we first saw during the pandemic, with AI uncovering bottlenecks and enabling telcos to act, such as advising customers to change how they were connecting to networks. This helped to improve service quality during a very challenging time.

These are just three examples in the network – but the way in which we interact with telcos, with bill inquiries, upgrade requests or support queries are all being dramatically transformed by AI too. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, what difficulties have you seen customers experience in telco services?

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the telco industry to reassess its priorities and realign its focus on providing better connectivity. Practically overnight we saw people working from home and children out of school streaming, learning and playing online games simultaneously. Fibre networks in particular were under more pressure during the day, resulting in slower speeds and connectivity problems.  

At the same time, attempts to branch out into other domains – such as entertainment and media – were deprioritised, as telcos focused on their core offering: connectivity. 

Why do you think that cloud migrations have exposed challenges? Why have these migrations not always been a success?

The telco industry has recognised that it needs to modernise and shift to cloud to tackle rising data volumes and instant scalability. However, these migrations haven’t always been a simple lift and shift, and issues have arisen due to the sheer scale of data that telcos collect. 

Some pull as much as three petabytes of network health data per day to ensure everything is running smoothly. That’s a huge amount of data and storing this all on the public cloud can incur huge costs, as well as creating architectural and compliance challenges.

Telcos must make informed decisions about which data belongs where in order to address these challenges and make a success of the cloud. Certain types of information, such as customers' personally identifiable information (PII), will often need to be stored on-premises to ensure they remain within the bounds of compliance, while other data can be stored in the cloud. Telcos can then optimise data collection, by reducing the cadence of network health reporting from several times a minute to several times an hour. 

However, telcos need to understand their data if they are to make these decisions. So successful cloud strategy must be driven by the implementation of a modern data architecture which is underpinned by a hybrid data platform - giving you the best of both worlds. This enables telcos to make more informed data management decisions.

What is Cloudera doing to help its customers make informed choices about their data, particularly concerning AI and cloud migration?

Hybrid and multi-cloud environments are becoming the de facto standard across industries. 

At Cloudera, we help customers to address the complexity of running multiple concurrent workloads on different underlying infrastructure, and make more informed decisions about their data architecture. 

We are constantly evolving our platform to increase observability, deliver consistent compliance, and enable organisations to deliver benefits from data, no matter where it resides. Cloud is great, but data security, compliance and workload performance will always come first.

We offer a selection of purpose-built data services allowing expansion across the data lifecycle, from the edge to AI. Whether that’s streaming massive data volumes, or deploying and monitoring next generation AI and ML models, the Cloudera Data Platform is there to help customers drive innovation. 


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