Automating to build a resilient, agile network

Arturo Cacace leads Telstra's network automation to offer customers more choice and faster provisioning, enhance the customer experience, and drastically reduce human error.

Industry: Telecommunications

Company size: 29,000 employees, $15B revenue

Location: Australia

Story Highlights

  • Telstra upgraded its huge network in just hours with Cisco NSO.
  • The team onboarded 43,000 devices in just four days.
  • Network outages caused by human error are down to zero.


The Story

Arturo Cacace is the group owner of Connectivity Enablers at Telstra. His team is responsible for ensuring that communications and data flow seamlessly between all parts of Telstra's networks. Arturo shares his experiences working with the Cisco CX team to implement the Cisco Network Services Orchestrator.

As Australia's largest telecommunications company, our nearly 19 million customers rely on us to keep them connected. From people staying in contact with their loved ones to emergency services finding the closest available treatment for their patients, our connectivity helps them stay engaged. Telstra's sophisticated and complex network needed to become more nimble for us to bring innovative solutions to market faster, with greater reliability, and consistency. To better protect our customers from loss–both time and money–we wanted total end-to-end automation.

Collaborating to implement one of the largest deployments of Cisco NSO

We knew that automation would give us the agility, standardization, and efficiency we wanted, and that Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) was the solution to get us there.

The benefits for NSO were clear from the get-go: we could upgrade our network quickly and efficiently and set the process for scalability. Even more important, NSO's multivendor capabilities meant that we could simplify the process we used to interact with our multivendor network.

Although deploying Cisco NSO was clearly the right choice for our needs, we needed experts with deep-rooted knowledge of the implementation to work alongside us to strategize and execute. The most obvious choice for this was Cisco CX. Because of the CX team's proficiency with NSO, we could get started quickly and create a factory-like environment that supported continuous, replicable, and programmatic deployments–faster and at scale.

What does that look like? We had eight or nine feature teams running multiple projects in parallel. With this structure and speed, we were deploying automation use cases to the network as fast as one every two weeks. Because of how quickly and systematically we worked together, the joint team, which included Telstra, Cisco CX, and our partner, became known as the "Software Factory." Just a year into this project we had full-blown orchestration for all our Ethernet and IP products across the platform.

The Software Factory provided the structure, flexibility, and scalability to take on automation initiatives, and to drive them to conclusion.

-Arturo Cacace, Group Owner, Connectivity Enablers, Telstra

A record-setting collaboration

The results speak for themselves. We onboarded the whole enterprise IP network of 43,000 devices in only four days. We were so quick that we earned Cisco's world speed record for onboarding. Making changes to the network, which might have once taken months, took just days and hours. Using NSO and working with Cisco CX allowed us to not only do this quickly, but also have the confidence we could avoid the typical errors and outages that generally plague this process.

The positive impact of automation doesn't stop there. When the country's network traffic went up due to Covid-19, we upgraded our connections to the National Broadband Network (NBN) in just 24 hours. Without laying the groundwork for automation with NSO and Cisco CX, this process would have taken upwards of three months.

Because of the automation, we're now able to offer our customers more choices with our services, and to provision them easier and faster than ever before. Gone are the days when our customers would need to update individual devices and be subject to human error–they can now choose what they want, when they want it, as though picking from a menu.

Next stop: Taking the Telstra and CX partnership to the optical domain

We see a future dominated by increased network growth and demands for faster speeds. Working with Cisco CX, we've been able to build a foundation of automation that not only helps us address capacity and speed, but also frees up time so we can package up and bring forward brand-new customer services and products. 

With such great success automating our IP network, we’re now working with Cisco CX to take on the optical domain of our network. By automating this high-bandwidth fiber optic service, we'll be able to increase the amount of data and the speed at which we transmit it to all our customers. It will be just another step on Telstra's journey with Cisco CX. This has been a long relationship that's brought us closer together, and we couldn't have done any of this without them.

Now that we've laid the foundation for automation with Cisco CX, the sky's the limit to where we want to take Telstra.

-Arturo Cacace, Group Owner, Connectivity Enablers, Telstra