The technical content of this year’s BCE was, as usual, presented by some of the best and brightest minds in telecom. Unfortunately, most of those minds were in agreement that the landscape for SDN and NFV, in particular, has not gotten any clearer in the last year. In fact, in many ways the clouds have gotten denser.
Some service providers are regarding the strongest users of their network as their worst enemies… the OTT’s. Those mystic folks who reside in data centers, earn billions and billions and don’t even have an own network.
One of the main drivers of NFV is breaking apart functional networking blocks into their most focused pieces so that customers can pick and choose the ones that are most applicable to their services. That concept also seems to work for trade shows, as this focused show in Denver was well attended by industry professionals interested in focusing on the specific topic of SDN and NFV for communications service providers. In general, the talks and panels were well attended, informative, sometimes controversial, and worthwhile.
In a previous blog, I discussed how equipment providers are facing a lucrative but pitfall-laden path in deciding how to invest in NFV to displace dedicated appliances. CSPs have similar NFV investment decisions to make on the user side of the equation. They need to answer the question: “Where should I start implementing an NFV strategy to deliver network functions and customer services as a means of improving my bottom line and business success?”
The first Big Communications Event related blog focused on Virtualization and Security. In this entry, the focus is on the other hot topics at the show, specifically Automation and Disaggregation.
The LightReading Big Communications Event (BCE) for 2017 was held May 24th and 25th in Austin, Texas. The attendees list was strong and the presentations were certainly worth the cost of admission. The show presented a microcosm of the significant issues and themes confronting the telecommunications industry as a whole, with a significant focus on virtualization of network functionality. Other major themes of the show included security, automation, and disaggregation. All of these topics showed up throughout vendor and service provider presentations alike.
“Think specifically about the OTT (over the top) Cloud applications that run on the infrastructure you provide: Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Google Maps and more. You provide the infrastructure, the satellite links, the entire spectrum of network services (security, backup, bandwidth and more) . . . and OTT apps use it all to siphon revenue from you with lower-quality and often-free apps—from messaging to navigation to telephone.”
The conventional wisdom has been that Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is associated exclusively with Communications Service Providers (CSPs). Part of the reason for that is based on the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the key role they played in the development of NFV. For example, roughly three and a half years ago an Industry Specifications Group (ISG) for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV ISG) was formed under the auspices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI NFV ISG). While the membership has evolved significantly, the initial members of the ETSI NFV ISG were all CSPs such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and NTT.
Judging from the number of discussions, communities and deployments, it is clear that NFV is gaining traction. But just because NFV is gaining traction from a technology/ maturity standpoint doesn’t mean NFV has gained widespread adoption. The physical customer premise equipment (P-CPE) that has support legacy revenue streams isn’t going away any time soon, but service providers need a more effective way to deploy NFV.