Bringing you the very latest on SDN and NFV developments across the world

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.

Hugh BradlowIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Hugh Bradlow, CTO of Telstra, Australia, to ask him about his thoughts on SDN and NFV in 2014.

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

HSB: “Cloud data centres have had the biggest impact on progressing SDN as they offer immediate value.”

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

HSB: “Any change to core infrastructure cannot be rushed, so the pace of introduction is valid.”

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

HSB: “We have been running trials of some of some the key new use cases (e.g. virtualised Residential Gateway) to determine value and performance.”

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

HSB: “The hurdles are similar to the introduction of any new technology. You are competing with an incumbent infrastructure which is delivering value and the technology is usually only a small proportion of the overall solution – the aspects that inhibit change from existing to new are all the things that go with the technology – OSS, OAM, human capital, etc. On top of that, you need to prove a business case based on total operating cost which is always difficult.”

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

HSB: “As mentioned above, data centres are an obvious use case and are already well progressed. Customer access is another priority opportunity because of the flexibility it allows in terms of service delivery (e.g. enabling a customer to configure multiple independent networks over one physical access path).”

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

HSB: “Unless some compelling use case emerges, I think we shall see the introduction of SDN/NFV as part of lifecycle replacement of assets over time.”

Hugh Bradlow will be speaking in more detail about his thoughts and ideas 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.

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.

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.”

çééí âéøåï - ñîðë"ì áîùøã äú÷ùåøúIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Haim Geron, Senior Deputy Director-General, Israel Ministry of Communications, to find out his thoughts on progress within the industry in 2014…

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

HG: “I believe that the recognition by major manufacturers like Cisco, HP and Juniper, major Software co. like VMware and announcements by application giants like Facebook about the development of Open Source based applications contributed to the rapid progressing of SDN and NFV to date.”

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

HG: “Telecommunications experts always feel that the progress towards implementation is NOT what they would like and again and again get “disappointed that it takes roughly 10 years from concept to mainstream implementation. However, we see some positive signs that the adoption of SDN/NFV architecture my “break” the 10-year barrier.”

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

HG: “As a regulator, we favor any technical advance that may reduce cost for operators and eventually, some of the cost savings will be transferred to consumers.”

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

HG: “I believe that the current, huge ‘sunk cost’ of legacy networks imposes the biggest obstacle to the rapid implementation of SDN/NFV. One way of overcoming that is to lower the entry-level barrier for new service providers who did not yet make a significant CAPEX in legacy networks. Another way is to devise sophisticated acquisition plans for SDN/NFV systems so that the CAPEX+OPEX of these new systems will be less than the long-term OPEX of the installed legacy systems.”

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

HG: “Obviously the Core Network will be prioritized because that’s where the applications get prioritized. In the access network, be it mobile or fixed, ‘a bit is a bit’.”

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

HG: “Reducing cost for the benefit of consumers, flexibility in the development of new services and a fair and proper implementation of Net Neutrality principle.”

Haim Geron will be speaking in more detail about his thoughts and ideas 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.

Peter ZidarIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Peter Zidar, Head of the Standardisation Group at Telekom Slovenije, to find out his thoughts on SDN and NFV in 2014…

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

PZ: “The largest impact is coming from implementations of cloud computing, Cloud RAN and M2M. At the core of cloud technologies are virtualization mechanisms. It is also important for network operators to reduce cost by avoiding proprietary hardware implementations and virtualizing network services. They can reduce CAPEX (by using of the shelf equipment) and OPEX (by running network functions in the data centre) by implementing SDN and NFV. Operators want to migrate from self-contained routers to a centrally-controlled distributed environment to simplify maintenance. Advantages of SDN and NFV can increase velocity of deploying new upgrades.”

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

PZ: “Progress is still a bit slow but gaining momentum. Implementing SDN and NFV was at first slowed down by lack of proper standardization. With an increasing number of cloud services offered by network operators as well as upgrades to the C-RAN, these two technologies will make big step forward to become more widespread. It takes some time for network operators to be assured that the security, resilience and availability of their networks are not impaired when virtualised network functions and SDN are introduced.”

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

PZ: “We have implemented some SDN functions in our core network and are planning to participate at different EU projects, which are going to use those functions in conjunction with IoT and video routing. We are already preparing our networks for greater use of SDN and NFV.”

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

PZ: “The biggest hurdles are legacy networks and multivendor environments. Also, more SDN and NFV capable products should be available. One of the reasons for slow deployment is the lack of ability to load and execute virtual appliances in different but standardised datacentre environments, provided by different vendors for different operators. Virtualization is causing some performance degradation, so it may not always be optimal, and some operators may therefore hesitate to implement it. Another hurdle is the necessary co-existence with legacy network elements and compatibility issues.”

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

PZ: “All new network elements should be prioritized for virtualization to appropriately scale and upgrade mobile networks in future. All cloud services, including C-RAN, are also obvious places to start with virtualization.”

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

PZ: “I expect that network operators will first try to use SDN and virtualization to implement and deploy cloud services, and then use it also for Cloud RAN. The use of these technologies may very likely transform the vendor landscape. Each player will need to re-position itself in new markets. Vendors will offer virtualized versions of their products, and network operators will have to migrate their operations and skill base to a software based networking environment.”

Peter Zidar will be speaking in more detail about his thoughts and ideas 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.

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.