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Eliminating network complexity with automation
The growing need for automation in the telecoms industry

Pablo Alonso
11 July 2023

Technologies in the telecommunications industry are evolving at a dizzying speed, driving the need for automation.

From the times of old “physical” network functions (PNFs) that were updated once a year with significant effort and complex procedures, to the VNF/CNFs that are updated monthly or weekly – implementing automated processes is essential for CSPs to remain competitive.

However, the process of implementing automation across multiple functions creates its own problems in the form of costs, incompatibilities between systems, and general disorganization. What’s needed is a strategy for automating that simplifies the setup, operations, deployment, and validation of telecoms networks by introducing automation and CI/CD/CT pipelines into the telecoms world. Like Lego blocks, we need tools that make it possible to quickly construct new solutions built out of solid, proven components, saving time and reducing the risk of error. In this blog, I’ll share my experience with automation in the telecoms world.

The need for simplicity

When we started working in the automation arena, it was a different, largely physical world. When two systems needed to be connected, you could simply grab a cable and connect them. Today, all that’s done virtually. But despite these differences, our goal remains the same: simplification. No one wants a tangle of cables cluttering their office, and a virtual mess is no better. It’s one thing to automate a system; it’s something else entirely to simplify a network setup and operations and save effort and time.

For example, one of our initial projects was as simple as a connectivity setup between different network elements. The solution was to create a user interface where the source and destination IPs were introduced along with the required port. The automation engine identified all the routers and firewalls joining these two points and configured them to allow traffic flow. This wasn’t a complex activity, but we reduced the effort and time for its execution by 70 times – from hours to minutes – and freed the network engineers from a very repetitive task, avoiding many potential errors caused by human intervention.

Today, with the current 5G NF Continuous Deployment and Testing Pipelines we are implementing, we face tasks of far greater complexity. But the basic principles stay the same: analyze the process, identify efficiencies, and implement a structured and maintainable solution reusing as much as possible. That’s what we do.

Solutions should feature cloud-native technology, be based on containers, and be scalable and replicable. They should be able to connect to and include any tool, system, or application that offers an API. This architecture allows us to quickly implement any automation use case.

Beyond time and cost saving, automation brings many benefits: it’s faster than manual execution, provides reliable results, avoids human error, frees our engineers from repetitive tasks, and simplifies network operation.

Any player in the telecoms market who wants to remain competitive should introduce automation into their networks to cope with the herculean effort required to keep networks up-to-date and provide best-in-class, fast services to customers.


The main features of an automation architecture should include:

  • Dynamic GUI to provide a fully customizable graphical user interface that reduces the complexity of the network and automation components, allowing any user, even one without deep network/automation experience, to launch complex tasks and review the results in the same GUI.  
  • Centralized logging system that gathers all the logs and information from the network and automation components to analyze and present the relevant KPIs and dashboard in the GUI. This service should be easy to integrate with OSS element(s) present in the target architecture.
  • Centralized Notification System able to connect to any communications service (such as email, Teams, Slack, Jira, etc.) that allows the solution to contact users requesting validations, send test reports to the user who launches it, or register an incident in the appropriate system, etc.
  • Integration with Traffic Generator and Commercial Testing Tools that allows the triggering and orchestration of testing from the GUI leveraging commercial test tool capabilities.

The architecture must be flexible and highly adaptable, allowing for the addition or replacement of any components according to the target environment and its technological architecture.

High-level architecture and components example

Figure 4: Automation Architecture example

Implementation option

Our recommendation is not about commercial products – that would require a lot of effort in customization and adaptation. Rather, it is an open framework that can be tailored according to the required use case. It will remain an asset that can be maintained and further expanded by the customer. It can be also used as accelerator to launch the automation journey as a base architecture to form the foundations on which to build the automation strategy.

In this sense, different European CSPs are following this open source-based approach to drive 5G Core Network Functions deployment and validation. Pipelines are built to automatically execute the deployment and update of 5GC NFs from different vendors. Our collaboration with several of these CSPs has reduced fourfold the time needed to put an automation framework in place and automate the first NF deployment.

The short term and the long term

Automation is crucial in order to keep up with the fast-paced evolution of telecoms technologies and the increasing complexity of networks. Companies that embrace automation can streamline operations, reduce costs, and stay competitive.

Automation not only saves time and effort it also simplifies network setup and operations.  By automating repetitive tasks, organizations can free up their engineers to focus on more strategic initiatives and avoid potential errors caused by manual intervention. An open cloud-native architecture enables organizations to quickly implement automation use cases and seamlessly integrate with various tools and systems. This scalability and flexibility empower companies to adapt to changing technological environments and efficiently deliver best-in-class services to their customers.

TelcoInsights is a series of posts about the latest trends and opportunities in the telecommunications industry – powered by a community of global industry experts and thought leaders.


Pablo Alonso

Head of Engineering Advanced Networks & 5G, Capgemini Engineering
Pablo Alonso is Advanced Network Engineering Director designing and delivering cutting edge projects with distributed and multicultural teams around Europe in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal. Telecom Engineer, MBA, PMP & ITIL Expert with more than 20 years of international experience always willing to learn and apply new technologies and solutions as 5G, Network Virtualization and Containerization, O-RAN, Networks Automation and Telco Cloud.