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NFV Phase 2 begins: new leadership, organization, and renewed focus on implementation

By Marc Cohn, Ciena Corporation

While much of the country was coping with sub-freezing temperatures, the ETSI Network Functions Virtualization Industry Specification Group (NFV ISG) convened its 8th and final meeting under its original charter in the desert sunshine in Scottsdale. Intel graciously hosted the meeting, arranging excellent accommodations and hospitality throughout the week.

NFV #8 attendees were treated to a private rodeo by NFV #8 host Intel

NFV #8 attendees were treated to a private rodeo by NFV #8 host Intel

NFV #8 was the first U.S. NFV ISG meeting held outside of Silicon Valley, with no drop off in interest:

  • Number of operators: 37
  • Total number of organizations: 245
  • Number of individuals on the mailing list: > 1,200

After taking the industry by storm (literally)- attendees will never forget the unexpected and rare snowfall in the Cote d’Azur at the very first meeting of the ISG (February, 2013)- NFV Phase 1 successfully concluded, with the ISG achieving its stated objectives and defined work program. In recognition, parties sprung up by most working groups to celebrate their success.

“Operator participants are extremely pleased with the outcomes of NFV Phase 1”, stated Don Clarke (CableLabs), Chair of the Network Operator’s Council. “Few of us could have anticipated how fast this initiative would grow and how influential it would become. As we enter Phase 2, operators’ expectations continue to rise. We are very conscious of the fact that vendors are investing significant resources to develop NFV capability. It is therefore very important to stay focused and maintain our momentum to create opportunities for NFV deployment.”

NFV operators have every right to be proud, as NFV has literally redefined the ground rules for telecommunications technology adoption by:

  • Avoiding the temptation to create new standards- the ISG instead worked to influence existing and emerging SDOs and open source projects
  • Highly collaborative engagement model:
    o Among operators, some of whom are fierce competitors
    o Between operators and vendors
  • Reinventing itself as needed to adapt to the challenges at hand
  • Adopting a pragmatic approach that emphasizes progress over completeness and implementations over technical elegance
  • Capitalizing on a familiar and well-established administrative model that permitted the ISG to concentrate on progress vs. process

ETSI Director General Luis Jorge Romero commented “We are pleased that ETSI could enable the groundbreaking NFV ISG, which successfully forged an innovative standardization cooperation model, built upon assertive goals, pragmatism, lightweight process, and unprecedented collaboration. We applaud the ISG’s phenomenal accomplishments to date and believe that the NFV ISG is already influencing the entire industry.”

After months of planning, guided by the incoming ISG leadership elected at the prior meeting in July, the NFV Phase 2 work program commenced with a general agreement on the objectives and work scope:

  • Grow an interoperable VNF Ecosystem
  • Thoroughly specify reference points and requirements defined in Phase 1
  • Achieve broader industry engagement to ensure that NFV requirements are satisfied
  • Clarify how NFV intersects with SDN and related standards, industry, and open source initiatives

Steven Wright (AT&T), presiding over his first meeting since being elected Chair of the ETSI NFV ISG observed “I remain encouraged by the elevated enthusiasm by operators and partners alike. The NFV community that we have fostered has never been more robust. While we have challenges to overcome, broad industry participation has resulted in a healthy debate on our Phase 2 plans, which are converging as expected.”

In Phase 2, the ISG agreed to disband the existing NFV ISG Working Groups, and approved a new leaner working group structure better suited to the goals for Phase 2. While a healthy debate unfolded regarding the detailed Phase 2 scope and working group inter-relationships, a general consensus emerged, and the work began immediately.

The new working groups will focus less on requirements and more on adoption. Among the key areas that will be addressed include:

  • The ‘ilities’: Stability, Interoperability, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability
  • Intensified collaboration with other bodies
  • Testing and validation to encourage interoperability and solidify implementations
  • Establishment of a vibrant NFV ecosystem
  • Performance and assurance considerations
  • Continued attention to network management and operations, which is of particular interest to
    the Network Operators Council
  • Security

The ISG also elected new technical leaders to guide the NFV technical agenda. Diego Lopez (Telefonica) was re-elected as the Technical Manager, and Joan Triay (DOCOMO) was elected Assistant Technical Manager, succeeding Tetsuya Nakamura (DOCOMO), who was recently elected Vice-Chair of the NFV ISG. Working group leadership will be elected at the next plenary meeting (NFV #9), scheduled for Prague in late February.

“I am pleased that the ISG reiterated their confidence in me as we approach NFV Phase 2”, commented Diego Lopez, Technical Manager for the ISG. “As our goals shift towards implementation and adoption, we will need more detailed specifications, and address functional gaps of the standards we adopt. In order to achieve our goals, it is critical that our working groups remain focused, operate with lightweight processes, and strive for interoperability in everything that we do.”

As the ISG made a seamless transition, with a renewed charter, new leadership, and updated working group structure, the ISG has been energized to pave the way to adoption. Two years of use case assessment and prioritization, requirements analysis, architecture definition, document alignment, and countless conference calls, meetings, and drafts have resulted in a solid baseline for Phase 2.

Tetsuya Nakamura, ETSI NFV ISG Vice-Chair, stated “I am thrilled about the progress we made on the technical baseline in Phase 1, which required a great deal of collaboration and effort. Congratulations to all contributors for their commitment, dedication, and hard work without which, the leap to Phase 2 would not be possible.” Fittingly, Tetsuya, along with Michael Brenner (Alcatel Lucent), Joan Triay (DOCOMO), and Frank Zdarsky (NEC) were recognized by the ISG leadership with a special award for their outstanding contributions to Phase 1.

ETSI NFV ISG Chair Steven Wright recognized Tetsuya Nakamura, NFV ISG Vice Chair for outstanding contributions in NFV Phase 1

ETSI NFV ISG Chair Steven Wright recognized Tetsuya Nakamura, NFV ISG Vice Chair for outstanding contributions in NFV Phase 1

Given the accomplishments in Phase 1, there is increasing optimism that the ETSI NFV ISG will achieve its lofty goal to radically transform the entire telecommunications industry. 2015 is shaping up to be the year of the trial, leveraging over 25 Proof of Concepts, visible strides in product development, and leading edge operators planning for initial deployments.

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Q and A on SDN and NFV with Mavenir’s Ian Maclean

In this exclusive interview, Mavenir’s Ian Maclean shares his insights on SDN and NFV.

We are hearing a lot of discussion about Software Defined Networks (SDN) and NetwoMavenirrk Functions Virtualization. In the wireless space, how do you see operators benefiting from NFV or SDN?

IM: “The industry debate isn’t about which one provides the most benefits. It’s more about which one is the logical first step for operators. We think that’s NFV. It enables operators to start reaping the benefits of virtualization today instead of waiting for a payoff that may be three or more years down the road.

“Familiarity is one major reason why NFV is the ideal first step. The virtualized network functions are simply software instantiations of existing core network elements onto virtualized platforms. Suppose that an operator already has an Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) core. All of those nodes – Packet Gateways, Session Border Controllers (SBCs), Telephony Application Servers (TASs) and so on – all become virtualized network functions. But the logical interfaces between them remain the same, as does the management interface.

“As a result, although NFV is fundamentally different from traditional, hardware-centric networks, it still looks very familiar to mobile operators. That translates to a shallow learning curve. By comparison, SDN radically changes the network topology. So although SDN simplifies the network, which is a big plus, it does it in a way that requires operators to think and act differently. That takes time, which means the payoff takes time.”

How does Mavenir see virtualization changing how mobile operators will transform their networks to 4G LTE?

IM: “Mobile operators eventually will implement Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Some are doing it earlier than others for business reasons. For example, operators with legacy CDMA networks can use VoLTE to eliminate the expense and complexity of maintaining that fallback in the network and devices.

“One way to do VoLTE is to have several hardware to provide nodes such as the Session Border Controller (SBC), the Telephony Application Server (TAS), and so on. The virtualization way is to instantiate each of those nodes into a virtual machine that consists of one or two physical cores of a CPU on a blade.

“Mavenir has taken the latter approach, which enables us to quickly and easily implement services with nodes on a single blade. Our solution is an example of how virtualization reduces CapEx and OpEx.

“The IMS core is another example of where the CapEx and OpEx benefits are realized. A half chassis with as few as four to eight blades can provide an entry-level IMS network of, say, 100,000 subscribers. Without virtualization, you’re looking at several racks of hardware.”

With the implementation of virtualization technology, what new services do you see leading the way in telecommunications?

IM: “NFV still has a ways to go before it’s mature, but VoLTE is already generating a lot of interest for the reasons I mentioned. Increasingly, that interest is evolving into deployments. Some U.S. operators have launched VoLTE already, and Verizon Wireless says it will launch VoLTE later in 2014.

“Another reason for the interest in VoLTE is that despite its name, it also lays the foundation for operators to offer a wide variety of video and messaging services, including ones that compete with over-the-top (OTT) service offerings.

“VoLTE also is an ideal way for mobile operators to provide voice service to tablets, which many enterprises see as a replacement for desk phones and PCs. So VoLTE helps mobile operators push deeper into the enterprise and displace more wireline.”

How does technology such as virtualization change the offerings that operators will provide in the future?

IM: “Virtualization reduces the cost and complexity of networks, which reduces risk. That means operators can test more offerings when it comes to developing and implementing services. Some of those will be successful with customers, giving those operators more revenue and new opportunities to attract and retain subscribers.

“Virtualization also minimizes time to market and time to revenue. Mobile operators have traditionally taken a year or more to develop a service and implement it in the network. During that window, they’re vulnerable to rivals such as OTT players and other mobile operators. Virtualization enables operators to implement those services via software, so they can get to market much faster: potentially months or quarters rather than a year or longer.

“Finally, virtualization also enables new opportunities to maximize service quality, such as quicker call setups and HD Voice. Some customers, such as enterprises, will pay a premium for high-quality service, especially if they want mobile to replace some or all of their wireline services.”

What do carriers need to do to get started in taking advantage of this next generation technology?

IM: “The first step is to decide which parts of the network they want to virtualize first. Many of the operators Mavenir works with, are starting with the Evolved Packet Core, while others are starting with the IMS core. That’s another benefit of our virtualized solutions, operators can move at their own pace and virtualize whatever meets their business objectives.”

How is Mavenir helping mobile operators take advantage of these networking trends?

IM: “We have over 9 years of experience, substantial investment in wireless technology, and are engaged with tier one operators globally. Our unique experience of transforming mobile networks for the delivery internet protocol (IP)-based voice, video, rich communications and enhanced messaging services using virtualization, IMS and VoLTE enables mobile operators to transform their networks seamlessly and painlessly. We launched the world’s first VoLTE and world’s first RCS with MetroPCS, so we have the expertise and knowledge to move forward.

“We have a comprehensive suite of virtualized solutions, built on the mOne® software platform that enables operators to develop innovative, reliable services and get them to market quickly and cost-effectively. We have a suite of functions in the network that are IMS- and EPC-based, and designed for operators to deploy on their own in-cloud infrastructure today in a virtualized model. And when they’re ready to build out an NFV framework, Mavenir’s mOne® is designed to support that model, too.”

 

June bulletin

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Ovum’s Dimitris Mavrakis with Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero from Telefonica

Welcome to the latest newsletter from SDN World News, guiding you through the latest developments in the world of Network Functions Virtualization and Software-Defined Networking. We are pleased to bring together the best of the resources we’ve been watching in recent weeks, so you can keep in touch with SDN and NFV the easy way.

The industry gathered in London two weeks ago for Network Virtualization & SDN World, a unique, global, operator-led conference and exhibition, now in its second year, focusing on all aspects of SDN and NFV with particular relevance to the telco community.

This year’s event featured a great deal of focus on SDN and NFV deployment strategies across the network, with thought-provoking contributions from many prominent industry leaders including BT, NTT, Comcast, Telstra and Telefonica, and a host of NFV Proof of Concept demonstrations from leading vendors in the accompanying exhibition.

The Software-Defined Data Centre Summit which opened the event also offered valuable new insights into this expanding new area from Deutsche Telekom, Colt, Pacnet, Telus and JT Global, while the API Forum which concluded the conference brought together NTT, PCCW Global, BT, OpenDaylight and the OpenStack Foundation and high-profile vendors for a rewarding debate on openness and collaboration and developing a common approach towards Telco APIs.

The Network Virtualization Industry Awards were also well-received, with wins for Nuage Networks, Cyan, Colt, RAD and Tail-f. Click here for the full results: http://sdnworldevent.com/network-virtualization-industry-awards/

Packed conference rooms throughout the event also paid witness to the fact that the NFV industry buzzword is far from diminishing – and as the ETSI NFV ISG prepares to move towards a brand new era in 2015 and beyond, the future is looking particularly bright.

Please find below a round-up of other news we’ve spotted this month…

In the News:

Industry Interview with Telefonica’s Francisco-Javier Ramón Salguero

Positive Results for Virtualization and SDN from the Virtualization 100 Industry Survey

There Is No ‘I’ in Team

RAD’s Edge Solution Wins NFV Innovation of the Year Award

Vipnet Completes NFV Trial

HP Adds Network Virtualization to Its SDN Offering

Brocade Goes After Carrier Virtualization

OpenDaylight Project Welcomes Three New Members

Measuring Success for OpenDaylight: Neela Jacques’ Blog

 

Interview with Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, Telefonica

Francisco Javier Ramon SalgueroIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Francisco-Javier Ramón Salguero, Head of Network Virtualization, Telefónica GCTO, Spain and Chair of the PER Expert Group, ETSI NFV ISG, to find out his thoughts on the SDN and NFV industry in 2014.

Francisco-Javier, what would you say has had the largest impact in terms of progressing SDN and NFV in telecom networks to date?

[FJRS] Beyond individual company achievements that we have been seeing over the past months, I would say that the biggest game-changer for the industry was the foundation of NFV ISG, where a significant number of network operators gave a clear message to the industry.

This message was so clear and difficult to ignore that it helped everyone to focus and start working on the development of Network Virtualisation technologies with no hesitation, and with the only limitation of technological readiness. At Telefónica, we are quite proud of being part of the initial core group that seeded the creation of this industry initiative, and we are already thinking on.

2) Do you feel that the industry is making as much progress towards implementing SDN and NFV this year as you would like?

[FJRS] Indeed. In fact, this year we are seeing the explosion of Proof-of-Concepts for Network Virtualisation, covering literally every potential use case that you might conceive in a network. Only in the framework of NFV ISG, there are already 18 running PoCs (and rising!)… and they are only the tip of the iceberg, since it is expected that there are a bigger number of company PoCs that are happening behind the scenes.

3) How is your company contributing to the realisation of SDN and NFV at present?

[FJRS] As you probably know, Telefónica has been and will be quite active on the evolution of network virtualisation technologies. We started over five years ago working on R&D and lab experiences, and two years ago we boosted the maturation of these technologies promoting their standardization, being one of the founding members of ETSI’s ISG NFV at late 2012.

Right now we are focusing on two key areas:

Firstly, we are working with our operating business to launch new network services that were inconceivable before these technologies were available. At this moment, we are working, in a trial in Brazil, to virtualise part of the equipment installed at customer premises (router, cable TV decoder, etc.), in a concept that we call vCPE (virtualised Customer Premises Equipment). This trial is the result of a prototype developed by Telefónica I+D, with contributions and integration by NEC. The solution makes possible that higher layers functions can be shifted from the client premises to the operator’s network. We expect that this pilot experience – that will be finished during this very year – will help us prove the viability of this technology and enable us to implement rollouts in a more flexible and reliable way, obtaining low operating costs.

Secondly, we are working on the development of a real and working reference platform for NFV in collaboration with the industry. We have recently launched this NFV Reference Lab, where key players from industry are already engaged. This Telefónica NFV Reference Lab aims to host an agnostic reference architecture available for validation and certification of network functions that Telefónica intends to acquire or evaluate, as well as to validate and to certificate NFV resource management modules. One key part of this effort is that the evolution of underlying virtualisation technologies will be based in existing open source elements (KVM, Libvirt, OpenStack…) and will be contributed back to the upstream community, in order to avoid fragmentation or the creation of a tailored architecture for the basic NFV pieces (NFVI and VIM, mainly).

4) What do you think are the biggest hurdles towards implementing SDN and NFV at present, and how can they be overcome?

[FJRS] In order to grant the success of this new network model, it is essential to avoid vertically integrated and/or proprietary monolithic solutions, where HW, hypervisor, VIM, and orchestrator need to come from the same vendor. This would lead to closed and non-interoperable environments, compromising the evolution of these technologies, since their lei motif is the effective decoupling of HW, SW, and management from the network function. Thus it is essential to work on a target network architecture which can be gradually built from the most adequate building blocks that the industry can offer. The effort must be enhanced in this way and this requires changing the mindset of many players in the industry, including us, the operators. In this new phase that we are about to enter, everyone will need to get out of their comfort zones and learn to play according to the rules of opener communities.

5) Which areas of the network do you think should be prioritised for virtualization, and why?

[FJRS] The application of network virtualization can address two fronts:

On the one hand, matching with other industry players in those environments where virtualization technologies are already part of the state of the art and the delta for their deployment in an NFV environment is relatively small. Two examples of these kinds of quick-wins are the usage of SDN technology in telco data centres, and the adoption of an NFV approach in those network functions mostly associated with the control plane. Network functions that could be first virtualized are those most associated with network intelligence and value added service platforms (eg IMS, SDP, DNS, UDB, etc.), as they are essentially datacentre-like workloads in our current networks.

On the other hand, the telco industry can and should act as a leader in other fronts, using virtualization technologies to develop use cases on favourable terms. This requires the ability to virtualise network functions that can also handle the data plane, which is one of our peculiarities (in the end of the day, operator’s business is mostly based in transporting information). These network features are those normally associated with the IP Edge and the point of presence in general (BRAS, GGSN, SBC, P-GW , etc.)

6) What are your expectations for the development of SDN and virtualization in telco networks in coming years?

[FJRS] The high-level challenge, which is a common wish from telco operators, is building a “future-proof network” capable of supporting a long-term strategic vision and flexible enough to adapt to the quick changes in end-customer needs and preferences. The digital world requires both flexibility and agility, and SDN and NFV hold the potential to transform telco networks substantially in this way for the better. I think that manufacturers and telcos converging on the need to have a network which is much more flexible and mouldable, and which can be controlled as a whole.

You can hear Francisco-Javier talking about both latest developments within the ETSI NFV ISG and also outlining Telefónica’s own strategy for SDN and NFV at Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014. The event is free to operators. For further details and to register, please visit www.sdnworldevent.com.

Interview with Hrvoje Jerkovic, Service Quality Assurance Manager, Vipnet, Croatia

Hrvoje JerkovicIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Hrvoje Jerkovic, Service Quality Assurance Manager, Vipnet, Croatia to find out his thoughts on the industry in 2014.

Welcome Hrvoje. What would you say has had the largest impact in terms of progressing SDN and NFV in telecom networks to date?
HJ: “In last few months we have seen real flood of announcements regarding NFV implementations. Some of them refer to Proof of Concepts, and some to implementations in real live networks. It is obvious that this is more than just upgrades to technology, and operators are very careful with this topic.
“Generally, the main reason lies in the opportunity to cut hardware costs by reusing the same COTS hardware platforms for different telco appliances. Through better utilization of hardware and through using distributed software block-architecture of NFV based telco elements, operators have the opportunity to make significant cost savings as well as optimization of resource usage.”
Do you feel that the industry is making as much progress towards implementing SDN and NFV this year as you would like?
HJ: “NFV presents a major shift in telco architecture. Such changes need time to develop to reach functionality and telco-grade stability of legacy architecture; therefore, I would answer yes. We have to accept the fact that no operator wants to gamble with their core business, even if the potential savings might be big. This is the reason for taking small steps and virtualizing only certain network functionalities on certain technologies.”

What do you think are the biggest hurdles towards implementing SDN and NFV at present, and how can they be overcome?
HJ: “In terms of hurdles, the main technical reason is non-maturity of current NFV based products. As mentioned earlier, many operators are making small steps, just because they don’t have full confidence to make bigger steps. Beside that, there is also a constant need for each operator to adapt the set-up of its processes driven by NFV architecture.”

Which areas of the network do you think should be prioritised for virtualization, and why?
HJ: “In the first phase, we should focus on network elements covering signaling and control functions. Some of them might be IMS related , VoLTE related, policy functionalities, messaging services, Gi services etc. After that, data plane nodes which have clearly specific and/or different requirements could follow in the second stage.”

What are your expectations for the development of SDN and virtualization in telco networks in coming years?
HJ: “Based on initial experience, SDN and virtualization’s footprint is likely to spread in certain steps, depending on operators’ plans to extend in this direction. The logical way forward for operators is to exchange legacy equipment when NFV-based solutions can fulfil functionality/stability requirements and old legacy equipment reaches an end-of-life state.”

 Which company do you most admire in the SDN / NFV space, and why?
HJ: “It would be impolite to pick any vendor right now. The interesting thing is that, beside traditional ICT vendors (also known as the big players), we see many small agile vendors on the market trying to position themselves in the mix as well. Both of these have weakness and strengths, and I think it’s good for industry and good for the market as well to see some new players.”

Hrvoje Jerkovic will be speaking in more detail about his thoughts and ideas on SDN and NFV at Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014. For further information and to register for the event, please visit www.sdnworldevent.com.

Interview with Ampai Pornprasertsakul, Deputy Director, True Corporation, Thailand

Ampai PornprasertsakulIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Ampai Pornprasertsakul, Deputy Director at True Corporation in Thailand, to find out more about her perspective on SDN and NFV in 2014.

Ampai, welcome. What are your impressions of SDN and NFV in telecom networks to date?
AP: “Telecom operations are still in the process of exploring the SDN and NFV capability and impact. The realization is it is coming, and that we shall all need to prepare for it.”

What do you think are the biggest hurdles towards implementing SDN and NFV at present, and how can they be overcome?
AP: “The biggest hurdles that remain are how best to implement SDN and NFV, how to determine the biggest benefits we can get from them, working out how this new technology will impact our existing network, and what exactly the implementation costs will be.  We also need to know how best to integrate SDN with network equipment, VAS and IT systems.”

Which areas of the network do you think should be prioritised for virtualization, and why?
AP: “Personally, I think that VAS (Value Added Services) should be prioritised first for virtualization. The reasons for this are the high feasibility of implementation in this area, and that VAS has less impact on key services. I believe that less mission-critical services should be tested first.”

What are your expectations for the development of SDN and virtualization in telco networks in coming years?
AP: “In coming years, I foresee that SDN and Virtualization will continue towards full network implementation. Eventually, I anticipate the integration of network, VAS and IT systems as one.”

Interview with Renu Navale, Senior Strategy Manager, Communications & Storage Infrastructure Group, Intel

Renu NavaleIn the build-up to Informa’s Network Virtualization & SDN World conference in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Renu Navale, Senior Strategy Manager, Communications & Storage Infrastructure Group at Intel, to find out her thoughts on the latest developments within the industry.

Welcome, Renu. What would you say has had the largest impact in terms of progressing SDN and NFV in telecom networks to date?

RN: Four tectonic shifts are fuelling a transformation in networking:

First, cloud has become the compute paradigm: Cloud has opened up new business models where compute can be purchased and provisioned on demand anywhere on the globe. This compute-on-demand model increases pressure on the network to keep up – to the point where networking is becoming a bottleneck and CapEX and OpEx models aren’t sustainable.

Next, there’s the emergence of Open Standards for Networking: The rise of software-defined networking has spawned a number of open standards that pave the way for an open ecosystem for networking solutions. Key examples include OpenFlow, Open vSwitch, and OpenStack.

Network Virtualization on the Rise: Server and storage virtualization have been around for years, allowing workload consolidation or pooling and provisioning of resources without regard for their physical locations. Now virtualization has extended to networking. Network virtualization allows IT to combine different physical networks into a single virtual network, or split a physical network into multiple virtual networks that are isolated from each other.

And finally, Moore’s Law Expands to Networking: Through the evolution of Moore’s Law and Intel library software optimization, Intel Architecture-based systems are now able to perform networking workloads on commercial off the shelf servers that once required ASICs and FPGAs utilized in dedicated proprietary appliances.

Do you feel that the industry is making as much progress towards implementing SDN and NFV this year as you would like?

RN: The rate of industry engagement in NFV is fantastic, with over 200 companies now signed up to the ETSI NFV initiative in record timescales.  During 2014, we anticipate a downturn in publicity in line with the Gartner “Hype Cycle”, but there’s actually massive progress behind the scenes.

How is your company contributing to the realisation of SDN and NFV at present?

RN: Intel is leading the acceleration to an Open Network Transformation by enabling the delivery of “Best in Class” SDN & NFV solutions through:

  • Creation of reference platforms via the Development & Integration of Intel building blocks (we are introducing a portfolio of associated hardware and software products
  • Contributions to Standards, Open Source and Open interfaces (we are active in several SDN and NFV PoC and Standards initiatives across the ETSI, ONF, DMTF, and ODCA communities)
  • Collaborations & industry partnerships

What do you think are the biggest hurdles towards implementing SDN and NFV at present, and how can they be overcome?

RN: The key challenges are proving the operational scalability of SDN & NFV to carrier levels, and the consolidation of IT and Network operations to handle the rate of service evolution demanded by the market.  We are handling these by engaging in trials with several operators who are progressively expanding the scale of projects and associated risk mitigation. It is critical for the technology and business practices to complement each other to enable an operationally sound roll out of SDN/NFV. Other challenges are rollout of standards, vendor lock-in, and inter-operability challenges. An open and collaborative environment is critical to overcome this hurdle.

Which areas of the network do you think should be prioritised for virtualization, and why?

RN: We see virtualised Enterprise CPE as a great stepping stone for operators wanting to get started with production services, where the network speeds and the business risk are relatively low and the operations staff can get experience with an integrated IT and Network service approach. The “Services LAN” in both Fixed and Mobile Broadband networks looks like another key location to provide rapid service differentiation, intelligent handling of growing video traffic demands, and handle ever-increasing security challenges from Internet based threats.

What are your expectations for the development of SDN and virtualization in telco networks in coming years?

RN: We expect virtualisation of Telco networks to be widespread, with the introduction of NFV infrastructure in Access, Regional and Centralised network nodes, enabling “right placement” of applications to suit operational requirements. The adoption of SDN could be slower, as (unlike the datacentre case) centralised management of carrier infrastructure has been available for many years.        

Which company do you most admire in the SDN / NFV space, and why?

RN: I think Intel’s approach to SDN and NFV is exemplary, based on the unflinching commitment to Open standards and enabling an entire market for the common good.

One company other than Intel would be AT&T…I think their Supplier Domain 2.0 initiative, coupled with their AT&T Foundry investments to lower the barrier to innovation – and their support of both large and small companies (Ericsson, Tail-f, Affirmed, Metaswitch, etc…) – is very disruptive and market-leading.

Network Virtualization & SDN World takes place in London on 27-30 May 2014. Renu will be delivering Intel’s key messages in a prominent keynote presentation at on the morning of Thursday 29th May. To find out more and to sign up for the event, please visit www.sdnworldevent.com.