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Repositioning for Success

Marc Cohn

Marc Cohn, Market Development, Ciena Corporation

New leadership, renewed charter, and an enhanced structure to facilitate the transition from requirements to implementation

Marc Cohn, Market Development, Ciena Corporation – Santa Clara, CA  USA

Wandering through the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, at the social gathering of the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation Industry Specification Group (ETSI NFV ISG), was like a trip down memory lane. International Business Machines (IBM) mainframes (e.g., 360/370, which I spent many a night working on at the University of Missouri in the 1970s), Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) minicomputers (I was a systems manager for the PDP-11 and VAX-11/780 at McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s), and a slew of computers, calculators, and gadgets whose manufacturers have faded from memory.

But in an austere exhibit rests the system that truly changed the world- the IBM PC. Aside from its size, price point, and design, what made the PC different was IBM’s decision to open up the platform, decoupling the software from hardware, publishing open specifications, fostering the greatest ecosystem the world has ever known.

Three decades later, networking and telecommunications are bracing for a major transformation as communications platforms prepare to be opened by Software Defined Networking and Network Functions Virtualization, with similar impact to the opening of the computing world.

The 7th meeting of the ETSI NFV ISG was co-hosted by Ericsson and Citrix in the Santa Clara Convention Center, whose warm hospitality, comfortable surroundings, and ideal weather made for a highly successful meeting. Attendance surged to over 300 people; not surprisingly the 3 highest attended NFV meetings were held in Silicon Valley (NFV #4 (355), NFV #7 (303), and NFV #2 (285)).

Over the past year-and-a-half, the ISG has grown beyond the capability of all but the largest corporate facilities:

  • 37 operators spanning the globe (up 4 since NFV #6 held in May)
  • Mailing list approaching 1,200 participants
  •  226 ISG members (up 18 since NFV #6)
  • 23 Proof of Concepts (PoCs) accepted (up 5 since NFV #6)
  • 15 active work items

NFV #7 marked the last meeting for the Chair (Prodip Sen (HP)) and Vice Chair (Uwe Michel (Deutsche Telekom)), who played a major role in the ISG’s growth and success to date.

Throughout NFV #7, the ISG focused on repositioning the organization for long-term success, an initiative loosely referred to as NFV Phase 2. Among the key outcomes:

  • Elected new leadership, as the current Chair and Vice-Chair stepped down
  • Facilitated the transition from the Requirements Phase to the Implementation Phase
  • Revisited the ISG operational structure in anticipation of the transition
  • Discussed high-level scope for 2015 and beyond

Open elections were held for the NFV ISG Chairman and Vice-Chairman, who recently stepped down from their posts at the previous meeting in May.

Outgoing Chairman Prodip Sen commented, “Serving as a founding member and the first chair of the NFV ISG has been an extremely rewarding experience. We started out to create momentum in the industry, and provide guidance on the way forward to the vision. We have achieved these goals, but clearly much still needs to be done. The good thing is that with this global team we have created, there is no dearth of ideas and participation. I am fully confident that the new leadership will continue our positive trajectory towards long-term success. ”

Outgoing Vice-Chair Uwe Michel stated “When we started the NFV ISG back in 2012, we did not envision such rapid growth and enthusiastic validation. I feel fortunate to be able to work with such a strong leadership team, who are truly committed to achieving an industry vision for NFV.”

Steven Wright, AT&T, who formerly led the NFV Infrastructure (INF) working group, was elected the new NFV ISG chairman. “I am excited to guide the NFV ISG as we transition our focus from requirements to implementations. I would also like to thank Prodip Sen and Uwe Michel for their leadership and significant contributions, which have been instrumental to our success.”

Tetsuya Nakamura, NTT DOCOMO, who formerly was the Assistant Technical Manager of the NFV Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and Chair of the Software Architecture (SWA) working group, was elected the new NFV ISG Vice-Chair. “I am honored to be elected vice chair of the NFV ISG at such a critical time, as the ISG repositions itself to focus on adoption.  We are especially appreciative of my predecessor Uwe Michel, who has been a major part of our success from the beginning. ”

The ISG continues to make solid progress on the NFV Release 1 baseline. Eleven new deliverables from multiple working groups were made available for public reviews. A liaison statement was approved to invite comments from the many NFV ISG liaisons.

“I continue to be pleased with our progress towards NFV release 1, which is targeted towards December”, stated Diego Lopez (Telefonica), NFV Technical Manager and Chair of the NFV Technical Steering Committee. “Each of our technical working groups is making tremendous progress as we worked towards a solid technical baseline, which is critical as NFV Phase 2 gets underway.”

Another major topic discussed at NFV #7 was the future of NFV ISG, referred to as ‘NFV Phase 2’. The original charter for the ISG, approved in late 2012, is scheduled to expire in January, 2014. Prodip Sen led a robust evening discussion on the future of NFV, assisted by Klaus Martiny, Vice-Chair, Network Operator Council (NOC) and incoming Steven Wright.

Key outcomes from NFV #7 regarding NFV Phase 2:

  • The ISG passed a motion to extend the NFV charter by 2 years, to continue to operate under the current ETSI Terms of Reference (ToR)
  • The ISG accepted a new NFV ISG mission statement, which shared the vision, mission, and values of the NFV ISG:
    The NFV ISG’s mission is to facilitate the industry transformation and development of an open, interoperable, ecosystem through specification, implementation and deployment experience. . .
  • Several new contributions on NFV Phase 2 were submitted for consideration, many endorsed by multiple participants
  • The ISG leadership will hold an interim meeting in late September to discuss the proposals and suggestions for NFV Phase 2, in preparation for NFV #8 in mid-November

“Interoperability is a key objective for Network Operators”, commented Don Clarke (CableLabs), Chair of the NFV NOC. “In the next phase we intend to intensify our efforts towards achieving interoperability for NFV, which includes normative work where appropriate, formalized dialogue with other industry and standards organizations including open source communities, and a continued emphasis on encouraging open NFV implementations and Proof of Concepts.”

At the closing plenary, the new ISG leadership invited the NFV ISG plenary to proactively contribute to the future of NFV, through comment on our documents, proposals for new work items, and recommendations on the organizational structure to position the NFV ISG for long-term success.

While progress since the formation of the ISG (4Q2012) has been tremendous, there is a long way to go. The ISG will be shifting their focus outward, reaching out to the standards bodies, industry groups, and open source projects, to influence their future work programs. A proposal was shared to stimulate discussion on how the NFV ISG can engage with the research community, to leverage their innovations, resources, and ongoing work as well as to create new academic courses to train a new generation of students to be multi-skilled in networks and software. In today’s environment, collaboration is the norm, implementations the target, and speed trumps completeness.

The next meeting of the ETSI NFV ISG (NFV #8) will be held from Nov 17-21 in Chandler, AZ (outside of Phoenix). At that time, the new leadership will assume their responsibilities, and decisions are anticipated on the plan for NFV Phase 2.

 

 

NFV ISG Leadership- poised for success (NFV #7, Santa Clara, CA, August 1, 2014)

NFV ISG Leadership- poised for success
(NFV #7, Santa Clara, CA, August 1, 2014)

From the left: Diego Lopez (Telefonica), Technical Manager, Technical Steering Committee; Uwe Michel (Deutsche Telekom), former ISG Vice-Chair; David Boswarthick (ETSI); Margaret Chiosi (AT&T), Advisor to ISG leadership; Prodip Sen (HP), former ISG Chair; Steven Wright (AT&T), ISG Chair, Klaus Martiny (Deutsche Telekom), Vice-Chair, NOC; Don Clarke (CableLabs), Chair, NOC; Louise Clarke (ETSI)

Kneeling from left (Laurent Vreck (ETSI); Tetsuya Nakamura (NTT DOCOMO), ISG Vice-Chair

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Interview with Shazia Hasnie, Senior Director, Network Architecture and Strategy, Megapath, USA

Shazia Hasnie-2012Informa’s Carrier Network Virtualization conference and exhibition in Palo Alto, USA on 9-11 December 2013 is now only two weeks away. In advance of the show,  we caught up with Shazia Hasnie, Senior Director, Network Architecture and Strategy, Megapath, USA, to find out her thoughts on the growth of SDN and NFV and her expectations for the industry’s future…

Shazia, welcome. Why do you think the idea of SDN and NFV is suddenly taking off?

SH: “Cloud computing has put tremendous pressure on network connectivity to be dynamically scalable and virtualized. In cloud data center environment, the concept of resource pooling with the ability to dynamically control physical and virtual resources is key. Compute and storage to a large extent have been evolved to be virtualized and pooled resources. However, the network remains static and hence presents a bottleneck. In cloud data center environment, networks need to be agile and virtualized and NFV/SDN provides a way to achieve that.

“SDN has promise in the carrier network environment as well. According to the resent Cisco Visual Networking Index survey, the annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabyte threshold by the end of 2017. This is a lot of traffic to handle which translates to an ever increasing requirement to augment network capacity. To complicate the matters further, carriers have no automated mechanisms to orchestrate the stranded capacity on its circuits to other customers, who may need it. Hence, this expensive resource remains unutilized.

“Thus, CapEx and OpEx to operate telecom networks are enormous while revenue remains largely decoupled from the cost of architecting, scaling and operating today’s networks. Furthermore, the revenue generating services take several weeks to be created, provisioned and activated on these networks.

“The reason the idea of SDN and NFV is taking off is because it is a much needed concept for both telecom carriers and cloud operators. SDN and NFV present the concept of architecting these networks on low cost COTs hardware while the control of network functions remains in a logically centralized and directly programmable software domain.

2) Whereabouts in Telco networks do you see that SDN and NFV will be of the greatest benefit? Where will we see the first deployments?

SH: “Complete abstraction of control layer from the underlying hardware would take a few years at its best to take place. In the meanwhile, a subset of benefits of SDN would be realized in a software defined service layer. Thus, OSS/ BSS systems in a telco network would most likely be the first to get logically centralized and programmable via a service automation and orchestration layer. This software defined service orchestration layer may interface with the existing OSS/BSS systems and provide an integrated and logically centralized view and control of the network. The other area where SDN and NFV concept would take off in telco networks would be the network edge.

“Most likely, tier 1 operators, globally, will be the early adopters of the SDN technology.”

3) Are there still any major hurdles you see which SDN and NFV have to conquer before adoption can become widespread? If so, what are they and how should they be resolved?

SH: “SDN and NFV technologies are very nascent. There are many pieces of the puzzle which are not in place yet.

“SDN / NFV environment would be composed of physical and virtual resources. Network virtualization poses a great challenge to network state management. Live workload migration and dynamic resource allocation are core concepts of the virtualization technology. However, during the migration, network connectivity, configuration, ACLs, and QoS/CoS should remain consistent and intact. In order to manage server virtualization along with network virtualization, sophisticated management and troubleshooting solutions would be required.

“The existing (non-SDN) networks are here to stay for a long time to come. As an intermediate step, we require multi-vendor service automation and orchestration platforms to provide SDN like capabilities to the existing networks without actual abstraction of control plane from the forwarding plane.

“Also, OpenFlow needs to mature in terms of its switch configuration protocol (OF-Config), extension to optical transport and definition of an open, standardized northbound API.

“Boundary or interface functions are needed to be defined to interface SDN controllers not only to other SDN controllers and domains but also to legacy IP networks.

“SDN would require application-aware routing. The routing / control software that SDN applications would require for advanced functionalities is not ready yet. The IETF I2RS working group was formed in November 2012 to address this problem for the existing distributed routing architecture. The I2RS would allow applications to dynamically modify routing decisions on the basis of application requirements keeping in view the network events, topology and traffic conditions.

“The carrier grade performance in a virtualized networking environment raises some questions and concerns. When complex network functions are running at the software layer, the CPU performance becomes critical. Performance of the current general purpose multicore processors may not fit the bill. New and innovative solutions would be needed to accelerate the performance of these processors.”

4) What kind of timescale are we looking at until SDN and NFV become more commonplace in carrier networks across the world?

“SDN and NFV present a paradigm shift in how networks are constructed and operated today. However, many tier 1 operators are trialing SDN in targeted domains for specific applications. It is given that the existing infrastructure would remain in place for a long time to come while operators strategize to adopt SDN and NFV concepts fully.

“If current state of affairs in the industry is any indication, it can be reasoned that the wider adoption of the technology by telecom carriers would lag behind the wider adoption by data centers at least by a couple of years. However, telecom carriers in general are very aware that their future network architecture would be substantially different from their current architecture.

“It took approximately six years for server virtualization market to grow from 0 to approx. $1B. SDN / NFV adoption would be considerably accelerated then that. A recent report published by Transparency Market Research claims that the global SDN market is expected to reach $3.5B by 2018.”

5) What are your own company’s plans for deploying SDN and NFV?

SH: “Being first to market may not always prove to be prudent. We have to time it right and understand when the adoption of this new technology would add most value to our business and add competitive advantage and differentiation. We are currently in an exploratory phase and doing technical due diligence and impact analysis while formulating our business case. We are interviewing vendors. In our vendor selection, we would prefer a vendor who is committed to open standards, who is very involved in the standardization process and investing in R&D.”

6) What do you expect will be the defining trends within the industry in 2014?

SH: “I believe that enterprises, cloud service providers and data center operators will predominantly drive the SDN market in 2014.

“Cloud computing paradigm is not complete without network being virtualized along with server and storage virtualization. Thus, cloud computing would continue to drive virtualized overlay network technology in the data center environment for its own survival. These overlay network virtualization technologies would continue to be developed and adopted by data center and cloud computing sector.

“However, in the telecom operators’ world, the two key areas would be the virtualization of the network edge and software defined service orchestration also known as OSS/BSS virtualization. The top tier telecom operators, globally, would continue to trial and start to deploy SDN technology for specific use cases, mainly focused around the two key areas mentioned above.

“The mobile network operators would focus on their core and metro networks first, before moving on to RAN for virtualization. An industry survey published by Informa telecoms and media earlier this year showed that approx. 93% of the respondents from mobile operators’ space expect SDN to be implemented in their network in the next 1 to 5 years.

“SDN is colossally disruptive and if the past is any indication of the future, it would enable new vendors and competitors to enter into the arena. Additionally, many channel partner programs will most likely emerge in 2014.

Shazia Hasnie is Senior Director for Network Architecture and Strategy at MegaPath, based in San Jose, California. Being a subject matter expert, she has spoken on the topics of SDN and NFV at various industry events. Shazia has more than 14 years of post-doctoral experience and broad-based expertise in engineering research and innovation, technology and business strategy and management. She holds a Ph.D. in Telecommunications Engineering from the Australian National University.

She will be speaking on SDN and NFV at Carrier Network Virtualization in Palo Alto on 9-11 December 2013.

For further information, please visit www.carriernetworkvirtualization.com