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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.

Interview: Ravinder Shergill, Telus

Ravinder Shergill, Senior Technology Architect, Telus, Canada

Ravinder-ShergillRavinder Shergill is the Chief IP Architect responsible for Technology Strategy, overall IP Network Architecture and Governance for IP networks at TELUS Communications Inc. In this role, he is prime for the roadmap and evolution of the Converged IP/MPLS Core and the Converged IP/Ethernet Metro and Edge networks that deliver business, consumer and partner services across both; wire-line and wireless access networks.

 

Ravinder will be speaking at Carrier Network Virtualization 2014 on Tuesday, December 9 at the SDx Summit, Crowne Plaza Palo Alto. Click here to download the full agenda.

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

Industry Collaboration between Operators, Standards bodies and Vendors. Open Platform NFV has the greatest potential, provided everyone plays nice between incumbents & whitebox suppliers.

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

Early case studies in the industry are promising, but these tend to be simpler given the risk with any new technologies. There could always be more progress, but being a realist the pace of progress is about what I expected.

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

POCs from past year are moving to trial. New POCs are being assessed. Industry events participation is also an important contribution.

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

Operational Model for the new World order the embraces NFV & SDN. Furthermore, clarity of use cases and the realization of their direct benefits to the Operator.

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

Data Centres are a fertile ground for initial use cases because projected growth warrants a more scalable approach than business-as-usual.

What are your expectations for the development of SDN and Virtualization in carrier networks in the coming years?

More successful early deployments will help increase confidence of fast followers. Standard solutions that are modular & easy to replicate will be winners.

Which companies do you most admire in the SDN space?

Ones that are Innovative and Open in the spirit of putting their Customers First.

Interview with Hugh Bradlow, CTO, Telstra, Australia

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.

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 Shahar Steiff, AVP Business Operations, PCCW Global

Shahar SteiffIn advance of Network Virtualization & SDN World in London on 27-30 May 2014, we caught up with Shahar Steiff, AVP of Business Operations, PCCW Global, to find out his thoughts on the industry in 2014…

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

SS: “If we have to take one event this year that made the largest impact on the future of SDN and NFV, I would say it is AT&T’s publishing its “Domain 2.0 Vision”. When one of the world’s largest carriers announces its support of SDN and NFV technologies, it provides the whole industry assurance that their efforts are spent in the right direction. And using AT&T’s own words: “Domain 2.0 is not a completed architecture or technology plan; rather it sets direction. There remains much to do…”

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

SS: “The industry is still in “hype” mode when it comes to SDN and NFV. Several limited test cases have been proven to work, but the business case is still unclear. In addition to that, the majority of the work and progress is limited to the “comfort zone” of the data-centre, where SDN and NFV were conceived, while developments related to carrier networks and mobile networks are still at infancy.”

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

SS: “PCCW Global is a contributing member at several of the Industry Standard-Defining-Organizations, such as MEF, ONF, 3GPP.

“At PCCW Global we believe that the industry as a whole will benefit from convergence towards standardized APIs that will allow vendor agnostic abstraction and virtualization.”

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

SS: “Implementation of SDN and NFV is effected by three factors:

a. The technology is still maturing and has limited commercially available solutions.

b. The technology is optimized for data-centre environments and needs to be further enhanced to suit the specific needs of carrier’s transport networks.

c. Integration of SDN and legacy equipment is still under development. A migration plan that retains the value of previous investments needs to be developed.

“In addition to that, today’s “selling point” for SDN and NFV is “Cost-Savings”, while the business case for that approach still needs to be proven. Instead, I trust that once carriers start realizing the operational benefits of this technology and the NEW REVENUE opportunities it may bring, they will be more keen to give it a try.”

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

SS: “To date – SDN and NFV have been realized in the Data-Centre. That’s one part of the network. There are other parts of the network that need to undergo the same: Wireline/Wireless/Mobile access networks, the packet core network, aggregation layers.

“The key is agnostic abstraction, which should be implemented on any of the above mentioned network areas. Agnostic abstraction which defines the service regardless of the vendor, the carrier and the underlying technology. Once that is achieved, virtualization becomes simple to implement. This emphasizes the key role of SDOs (Standard-Defining-Organizations) in the future of SDN and NFV. It is only through collaboration of vendors, service providers and OSS/BSS platform developers that the industry will be able to define consensus-based abstracted services and APIs that the vendors and OSS/BSS developers will then be able to implement in their hardware and software, allowing the carriers to virtualize their services in a ubiquitous manner across the different areas.”

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

“To date – SDN and NFV development has focussed primarily on the Southbound-Interface. That’s a good starting point. There’s much debate going around the Northbound interface at this time. However – taking into account that in today’s environment services will almost always transit beyond the boundaries of one operator/system/carrier/platform into one (or more) other platform(s), it is key that an Eastbound-API is developed. Such Eastbound-API will allow a service to span across multiple domains delivering end-to-end management.

“As an example: A mobile user establishing HD Video conference with two other users: another mobile user that is subscribed to another mobile operator, and a colleague in the main office sitting at their desk. In the future SDN/NFV managed network, a VPN with CoS characteristics and bandwidth that is capable to convey an HD video signal will be established, in real time, from each user’s device, through their access network (mobile or wireline), through the core backbone of their network provider, to the MCU (Media Concentration Unit) in “the cloud” (a data-centre somewhere).

“For this example scenario to properly function – all elements of the network must use the same service abstractions and same APIs, regardless of their make, model or software release. A “guaranteed 768Kbps from device A to device B” is the same no matter if one device is a mobile phone on an LTE network and the other device is a macbookpro connected to the office WiFi. If all platforms along the path support the same standards, SDN and NFV will allow real-time delivery of billable CoS-managed-network services.”

Shahar 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.

Where Will These Top Carrier SDN Vendors Be One Year From Now?

Last August, Craig Matsumoto of Light Reading posted his listing of the Top 10 Carrier SDN Vendors, admitting “Picking a ‘Top 10’ in software-defined networking (SDN) is a dangerous business, because the whole sector is in flux.” Six months later, how are those ten (actually 11, with OpenDaylight) picks faring?

1. OpenDaylight. Although not an independent vendor, OpenDaylight opens the list because it is a “community-led, open, industry-supported framework, for accelerating adoption, fostering new innovation, reducing risk and creating a more transparent approach to Software-Defined Networking…OpenDaylight is structured using open source development best practices, and is comprised of the leading organizations in the technology industry.”

When OpenDaylight started, it only had two open-source projects. Now, it has sixteen. Thanks to OpenDaylight software-defined networking, rivals and users are being brought together by open source and creating software-defined networking for everyone.

2. VMware/Nicira. A little over a year after the Nicira acquisition, VMware announced its network virtualization platform called NSX whose goal is to enable users to deploy a virtual network for an application at the same speed and operational efficiency as a virtual machine. In addition, VMware announced multiple program enhancements at the VMware Partner Exchange 2014. So it’s safe to say that VMware is still in the game.

3. Juniper/Contrail. Despite one story reporting trouble with the introduction of Contrail to Juniper’s engineering team earlier this year, Juniper continues to position itself to introduce the new approach needed for management, provisioning and maintenance of connections as companies push infrastructure to “hyperscale levels” in anticipation of Big Data, mobile traffic and advanced sync/sharing services. Juniper marketing director Steve Shaw said, “With physical networks simply incapable of handling such a dynamic load, enterprises will find that SDN is necessary, regardless of the long-term ROI.” And Juniper intends to be a part of that.

4. ConteXtream.  In addition to joining the OpenDaylight project, the company collaborated with Cisco Systems to contribute a LISP-based mapping service to the open source SDN project OpenDaylight that enables the federation of SDN controllers across a WAN. Obviously, ConteXtream is still a player.

5. Big Switch Networks. Early on, Big Switch Networks dropped out of its leadership position in the OpenDaylight Project due to, among other things, concerns with Cisco over whose technology would form the foundation of an OpenDaylight SDN controller. Now Big Switch Network reports that it is ready to embark on a new chapter after rebooting its business late last summer.

6. Cyan. Cyan recently announced that its Blue Planet SDN Platform and Z-Series packet-optical hardware have been selected by the Jeollanam-Do province in South Korea. This will be deployed together with partner Telefield with the new network delivering e-government applications in support of the two million citizens living in the province.

7. Alcatel-Lucent/Nuage. In January,  Nuage Networks announced that UPMC selected its software-defined networking platform for deployment in their backup network. Once the staging and verification are deemed successful, UPMC will begin a multi-year transition to Nuage Networks solutions for the rest of its datacenter network infrastructure to support the increased demand from employees, patients, hospitals, and healthcare insurers.

8. Cisco/Insieme. Cisco Systems has been consistently labeled as a late adopter of SDN, but between its “spin-in” with Insieme Networks, unveiling its Application-Centric Infrastructure last November and now the investment of $6 million in Embrane, Cisco is positioning itself for the leadership position once more.

9. Plexxi. Plexxi is still in the news, and has contributed to articles and information for OpenDaylight, but there doesn’t seem to be anything new in the way of product changes or launches.

10. Ciena. Ciena is a Silver-level member of the OpenDaylight Project and active contributor to the OpenDaylight code base. In addition, Ciena reports that it is working closely with their customers to understand the widespread implications of SDN on their existing and future networks. According to a recent interview, one of Ciena’s SDN experts Marc Cohn said, “Parts of our SDN portfolio, such as our V-WAN, are already shipping, and many of our customers have expressed interest in the OpenDaylight framework. As a result Ciena has been closely investigating the potential application of the OpenDaylight framework for future products. Ciena has not yet announced our SDN product plans in this area, but we expect to soon.”

11. Brocade/Vyatta. The Stargate Group, an Australian application service provider (ASP) to the mortgage finance sector, announced on February 12 that it “has taken its first step toward applying software-defined networking (SDN) to its operations with the deployment of Brocade® NetIron® CER 2000 Ethernet/MPLS routers.” And earlier in February, Brocade today introduced the rollout of an enhanced channel program, including a new component specifically designed for software networking partners.

For more information, see Mind Commerce at www.MindCommerce.com

 

January 2014 bulletin

HappynewyearHappy new year to all our followers!

The main SDN and NFV buzzwords for 2014? We predict: Simplicity, Capability, Speed, Openness and (most importantly) Value For Money!

It’s certainly a bright new year in many ways, in which we are likely to see a whole raft of new virtualization ideas and deployments coming through.

There has been much discussion surrounding SDN and NFV developments in the last few weeks. At the Carrier Network Virtualization conference and exhibition in Palo Alto on 9-11 December, valuable discussion ensued around the future pathway of network virtualization, now that so many possibilities are emerging. A very popular White Box panel asked, can you now tell the difference between a White Box switch by an ODM and one bought from a large traditional vendor? In terms of performance, it is argued that it is very often no longer possible. However, in terms of support around the product, many still prefer the aftercare attention and extra resources provided by established vendors. Yet as the ODMs begin to increase in size and scope, a similar level of aftercare might one day also be available from them. Several new players asserted in discussion that moving away from the established vendors would make way for much more creativity in terms of how technology is used… Only time will tell as to how many operators make that jump.

2014 also marks the final year of the ETSI NFV ISG project in its current form. They have already achieved a great deal, but now the focus will be on drawing their work towards a conclusion which will help to shape the future of the industry. Definitely one to watch…

Meanwhile, the four-day Network Virtualization & SDN World event take places across four days in London on 27-30 May 2014, featuring an API Forum, SDN Summit, many SDN and NFV case studies and over 60 speakers. The brochure is due to be launched in 2-3 weeks’ time.  To find out more and to apply to take part, please visit www.sdnworldevent.com or contact Owen.Lochner@informa.com for information on sponsorship and exhibiting.

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

Wishing you all a happy and healthy year ahead,

Georgina Wilczek, Editor, SDNWorldNews.com

In the News:

The Industry’s Top Five Movers and Shakers for 2014

What to Watch in 2014

SDN Still Failing to Spark Interest in Europe

Plans for the first OpenDaylight Summit take shape

A Look At Cisco’s SDN Future

SDN Will Never Happen, SaysVMware Exec 

What Makes an Open Source Project Successful

NFV Said to SDN: “I’ll Be There For You”

Speaker Interview: Ravinder Shergill, Senior Technology Architect, Telus, Canada

Ravinder ShergillWith Carrier Network Virtualization just around the corner, we caught up with another of the show’s speakers, Ravinder Shergill, Senior Technology Architect from Telus, Canada. Here are a few of his thoughts on the nature and growth of the NFV and SDN industries in 2013/4: 

RS: “We’re living during exciting times, with the opportunity to effect technological innovations for years, and perhaps decades to come.

“With incredible data growth and significance of cloudification, business as usual will not suffice. New and innovative models must be explored, and SDN and NFV hold the promise of such potential. First solution sets are targeted at the Data Center environment, and the greatest opportunity lies there. However, the opportunities landscape is much broader.

“The SDN and NFV eco-system is currently in transition, but as the roadmaps and the standards solidify, it will pave the way for easier acceptance

“Small adoptions, perhaps as pilots, are imminent, but broad deployments are further away, perhaps even 5 years out. As the SDN and NFV eco-system develops, this will pave the way for gaining traction in the industry. While there has been good progress in 2013, there is a long journey ahead.

“At Telus, we are now at the Proof-of-Concept stage, and the outcomes of these will determine our future plans.”

You can hear more about Telus’ ideas and plans regarding SDN and NFV at Carrier Network Virtualization in Palo Alto on 9-11 December 2013. For further information, please visit www.carriernetworkvirtualization.com 

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