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DISH is building a one-of-a-kind telecom network with Atlassian cloud tools
When DISH Wireless set out to build a new 5G wireless network, they wanted to modernize the telecommunications industry by first modernizing their own approach. The company has a bold vision – develop the first cloud-native, data-centric, fully automated network – and they’re achieving it with the help of Atlassian Cloud Enterprise products. With an open, collaborative approach and cloud infrastructure, DISH Wireless has increased visibility across dozens of vendors, decreased issue triage and resolution time by over 90%, and harnessed multi-vendor collaboration on their quest to become the next household name in wireless communication.
For over 25 years, DISH Network has been transforming the way people across the US watch television. After venturing from satellite TV into streaming, the team continues to evolve their mission as a “connectivity company” by revolutionizing wireless communication – and they’re doing it from the inside out with the help of the Atlassian cloud platform.
While other telecommunication companies manage development in-house using on-premise systems, DISH Wireless wanted to explore more efficient ways of working to achieve better results. By adopting a more open, collaborative approach with outside vendors, as well as establishing a cloud-based infrastructure, they’ve unlocked better visibility, higher productivity, and greater innovation as they build a groundbreaking 5G network.
A new way of building a new 5G network
When T-Mobile and Sprint merged in 2020 to form the nation’s largest wireless carrier, DISH Wireless launched an ambitious initiative to build a rival 5G network and become the US’s fourth nationwide competitor. But DISH didn’t just want to follow the same old playbook – they wanted to modernize their approach and revolutionize the wireless industry.
“Our vision is to develop the first cloud-native, data-centric, fully automated telecom network,” says Said Berrahil, Vice President of 5G Technology.
Reinventing their approach meant looking at the people, processes, and platforms within DISH Wireless. Typically, development and testing are done in-house, with limited support from outside partners. DISH had a new idea: invite multiple vendors to collaborate and compete against each other to maximize innovation.
As DISH Wireless developed this concept over time, they onboarded almost 3,000 partners across 70 vendors, including the biggest players in hardware and software. This expansive community of vendors helped the DISH team innovate faster and work more flexibly – but it also made tracking and planning much more complicated.
DISH project management and issue tracking spreadsheets were too basic for such a large business unit with numerous teams, dependencies, and complex workflows. DISH Wireless wanted all vendors to work together on one platform so they could track milestones and see a collective view of their work, while keeping sensitive information confidential between vendors. The company’s enterprise-grade needs and open approach demanded an enterprise-level, open, secure cloud solution.
We knew where we were headed and the scale we were going for, so rather than worrying about upgrading later, we wanted to do it right the first time and start on the cloud.”
Vice President of 5G Technology
Cloud-native, fully automated, data-centric
As DISH Wireless began considering cloud-based platforms, the team investigated Atlassian Cloud Enterprise products. They found the customizations, automations, and flexibility of Jira Software a step up from their existing project management system. Jira already had a central knowledge base and training hub with Confluence and could easily establish a service portal with Jira Service Management, and the platform could provide the peace of mind, time savings, and security that come with working on the cloud.
Once they were all-in on cloud, the DISH Wireless team built out an Atlassian cloud ecosystem to help them create the nation’s first cloud-native, fully automated, data-centric telecom network.
DISH Wireless considered implementing Atlassian Data Center, but ultimately decided on a cloud deployment for even stronger peace of mind and long-term scalability. “We knew where we were headed and the scale we were going for, so rather than worrying about upgrading later, we wanted to do it right the first time and start on the cloud,” says Berrahil.
Security was especially important because DISH Wireless works with so many vendors. The DISH network security department partnered with Atlassian's Trust team to thoroughly examine Atlassian's security, compliance, and privacy policies and architect a secure setup for their unique multi-vendor situation. For example, with Atlassian Access and Okta single sign-on, DISH can onboard new people quickly and use group-level permissions to facilitate collaboration while maintaining confidentiality between vendor groups.
“Two-thirds of those contributing to the DISH network are non-DISH employees. We were able to rapidly scale because of the flexibility of cloud,” says Berrahil.. “Atlassian Cloud Enterprise also gave us early access to certain features, like Atlassian Analytics and Data Lake, and better support.”
We were able to rapidly scale because of the flexibility of cloud.”
Vice President of 5G Technology
Speaking of leveraging data, DISH Wireless is embracing Atlassian cloud products and Marketplace apps to enrich their infrastructure with data to securely improve communication, collaboration, efficiency, and decision-making. DISH vendors are expected to use Atlassian tools for everything from project and product management to ticketing to invoicing, giving DISH unprecedented visibility and the ability to make more informed decisions.
“You need Atlassian cloud to be able to communicate, innovate, and work in parallel with multiple partners,” Said explains. “We use it as our ‘lingua franca.’ We don’t speak English with our vendors. We speak Jira.”
DISH Wireless set up their Atlassian platform in a unique way to balance vendor confidentiality with collaborative innovation. “We’ve been able to put in place security parameters to ensure vendor data integrity and security where necessary, while having a holistic view across the enterprise,” Said says.
He adds, “It’s a very different conversation with vendors when we have data. We can say to a vendor, ‘The SLA says seven days, and you’re at 20 days. Let’s work together to reduce investigation time.’”
Marketplace apps have played a major role in DISH’s data enablement. For example, the team implemented Tempo Timesheets for Jira and requires vendors to track time and submit invoices through Jira Software. Their Chief Networking Officer even has a poster outside his office that reads, “No Jira, no money.”
Using Jira Software in this way and enriching the vendor payments flow with time-tracking data makes it easy for DISH to validate work billed vs. work completed in the same system. “Not only does this help us on the back end, but we also get transparency throughout the development life cycle about what’s going on,” Said explains.
Apps and integrations like these are helping DISH team members take their ideas to the next level. “I’ve learned not to try and do everything ourselves. I tell my team to collaborate, enable parallel innovation, and work with other people and technologies,” Said says.
We have real-time data at the team level and strategic level to make even better decisions, track milestones, and understand what we need to do to deliver.”
Vice President of 5G Technology
DISH Wireless has automated their workflows wherever possible for efficiency and accuracy.
Specifically, DISH Wireless has automated the testing and root cause analysis processes and made them more data-centric. For testing, the team set up Jira Software automations to open tickets, enrich them with additional data, and close them when complete. What’s more, root cause analysis wasn’t even possible before because there wasn’t enough information. Now a ticket is automatically created, and new data is added every ten minutes.
By working on the cloud, leveraging data, and automating, DISH Wireless is on their way to transforming their organization and the future of 5G.
Working over 90% faster, tracking better, and “sleeping like a baby”
DISH Wireless is not just staying on track internally with the help of Atlassian Cloud Enterprise. Collaborating on a central, integrated, cloud-based system has helped employees and dozens of vendors work faster throughout the product life cycle.
“Issue triage time is down from 61 days to six days, and defect resolution time has decreased from 120 days to seven days,” Said reports. “Efficiency improvements are incredibly valuable. With Atlassian cloud, we can see a collective view across the different domains to tell if we’re on track to hit those milestones.”
Engineers are not only working more efficiently, but are also able to focus on more strategic projects because they don’t have to worry about security or downtime.
Over 4,000 DISH Wireless employees are now using Atlassian Cloud Enterprise. DISH Wireless aims to grow substantially in the coming years, migrate other lines of business to Atlassian cloud, and connect all their disparate vendors and systems to create one vendor-agnostic, tool-agnostic process for the DISH enterprise.
As DISH marches toward their milestones with the support of Atlassian, their team is excited to be creating not only the nation’s newest, fastest 5G network, but also the newest, fastest way for telecom providers and vendors to work together.