Published On: Wed, Jul 19th, 2017

Caribbean trails global trend in automation

Stephen Lee CaribNOGPHILIPSBURG - A technology trend known as automation could be a game-changer for developing regions, but the Caribbean is trailing global adoption.

Across the industry, the automation of network configuration and network management is already bringing tangible benefits, such as lower operating costs and centralised security. But Caribbean adoption rates have lagged behind global averages, and the promise of automation remains largely unfulfilled in the region.

That untapped potential hasn't escaped the notice of experts like Stephen Lee, program director of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, a non-profit association of network managers and technology experts from across the region. He says the global shift away from traditional, high-cost network management solutions is one that the region should follow closely.

"Globally, the trend is decidedly moving away big investments in specialised, proprietary hardware. We're seeing a shift toward commodity systems and components that are generic at the hardware level, but leverage software for high degrees of customisation. This is what allows agile cloud providers to operate at scale while offering inexpensive services," Lee said.

But the Caribbean is still playing catch-up, at least for now.

"As a region, our investment needs to move away from super-specialised, expensive-to-maintain, secretive network architectures. Instead, we should focus on designing the kinds of customised solutions that you can only create when you can leverage software and IT automation frameworks to fully control the network infrastructure."

Across the region, Lee added, governments and private corporations alike remain stuck in an old hardware-centric paradigm, a mindset that can come with a hefty price tag, as it increases the cost of business and consequently, the price of service to consumers.

"Network operators in the Caribbean need to depart from their old ways and learn the new skills that will allow them to capitalise on the evolving landscape. If not, the region risks losing in yet another technology race by ceding the cloud space and revenue to external providers," Lee said.

By Gerard Best

Photo: Stephen Lee, Program Director, Caribbean Network Operators Group, speaks at the Belize National Cybersecurity Forum, held in Belize City, Belize on April 27, 2017. Photo courtesy Caribbean Network Operators Group

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