In 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.