#MWC2014 – NFV’s defining moment

“Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) aims to transform the way that network operators architect networks by evolving standard IT virtualization technologies to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, which could be located in a a variety of NFVI-PoPs including datacenters, network nodes and in end user premises.”

  • “Rapid service innovation through software-based deployment and operationalization of network functions and end to end services.”
  • “Improved operational efficiencies resulting from common automation and operating procedures.
  • Reduced power usage achieved by migrating workloads and powering down unused hardware.”
  • “Standardized and open interfaces between network functions and their management entities so that such decoupled network elements can be provided by different players.”
  • “Greater flexibility in assigning VNFs to hardware.”
  • “Improved capital efficiencies compared with dedicated hardware implementation.”

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV): Use Cases by ETSI GS NFV.


Mobile World Congress, VIP Networking Lounge. La Fira Gran Via. Barcelona.

#MWC 2014 Day –3

Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress is under construction and will formally open this coming Monday, February 24. We’ll be wearing hard hats for the next couple of days. In the meantime, our team is installing the live Cloud Communications Platform demo, which Dan Johnson and myself will be discussing with network operators, analysts, media and public officials. This demonstration showcases IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) under the VNF (Virtual Network Functions) model.

NFV is a hot topic with many suppliers joining the fray in the eleventh hour. 2014 is a defining year given the fact that we are readying solutions that shift the conversation from the art of the possible to what’s actually tested and available for deployment. Our team’s journey got a head start, which has become a source of competitive advantages.

Mobile World Congress 2011

#MWC11 is where Cindy Bergevin and I first talked about cloud computing in the context of LTE. That early demonstration focused on illustrating a nascent mobile cloud computing environment where end users would benefit from what mobile broadband had to offer.

As an example, we easily tapped into the live LTE network that Alcatel-Lucent made available on the show floor. We then demonstrated a use case where field engineers equipped with rogued tablets were able to work with sophisticated 3D CAD (Computer Aided Design) running in the cloud. This also included communicating over video conferencing with other members of an engineering team (whether they were on the road or based at other locations) as well as virtual desktop infrastructure.

Note that we purposely had tablets that did not have the processing power to run a 3D CAD system requiring dedicated workstation. That statement alone made the cloud’s and mobile broadband’s relevance quite obvious by getting us to access anything we needed, anytime and from anywhere.

While other vendors were just issuing nicely written press releases, we were engaging our customers to experience this new reality first hand right there at #MWC11. This was one of the most visible outcomes of an in-house consulting project that I started a year earlier for ALU’s Wireless Unit President, which I had titled “why ubiquitous net computing is set to become LTE’s killer app.” As far as the choice of words, there was a need for signaling that “net computing” wasn’t just about adopting “cloud computing,” but about a new breed of integrated technologies where the network is the platform and, most importantly, enabling engaging and productive experiences at end user and operational levels.

Mobile World Congress 2012

#MWC12 was very rewarding too. We unveiled CloudBand’s Management System, which pioneered a concept now known as MANO, Management & Orchestration, under ETSI NFV.

Lazar Obradovic, Asaf Peled and I kept extremely busy with non-stop demonstrations throughout the show. We had designed a schedule with our morning and afternoon shifts, which was rendered useless as the three of us ended up engaged in parallel customer discussions most of the time. CloudBand 1.0 became commercially available just a couple of months later and proof of concept projects with global leading service providers were kicked off soon after. DT’s and NTT’s to begin with.

A fair amount of those early MWC discussions focused on introducing cloud computing fundamentals such why cloud economics based on (1) the software defined aspect of virtualization (control and data plane decoupling), (2) shared assets and resource pools for application multi-tenancy, (3) data center environments equipped with COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) hardware and (4) automated on demand delivery systems (5) bridging cloud and network systems were game changers in the telecommunications industry.

This was coupled with Bell Lab’s “Networked Cloud’ demonstration on the need for addressing distributed architectures. Generally speaking, cloud computing delivers opportunities to consolidate infrastructure and to centralize management, optimizing for cost (CAPEX and OPEX) in the process. Optimizing for performance involves distributed systems with loads placed geographically closer to end users’ locations, as well as for any other reasons such as regulations and intelligent capacity management.

CloudBand’s launch was comprised of two key modular elements, an open and automated management system and also fully automated cloud nodes, a cloud-in-a-box solution. Just to share a quick metric reflecting interest levels in the industry, by year end I had conducted in excess of 300 live demonstrations and my contribution to the overall conversation was just a fraction of what our team delivered.

Mobile World Congress 2013

#MWC2013 gave us another good opportunity to take things further by delivering a first public demonstration: an early NFV Proof of Concept system that helped better understand how something as sophisticated and mission critical as IMS was very well suited for a carrier’s own cloud environment. And we did that meeting service levels with performance and control requirements required in the telecommunications industry.

We presented CloudBand’s cPaaS (“carrier” Platform as a Service) engineered to meet the needs of network operators with streamlined workflows and lifecycle automation. That starts with ease of application onboarding and service provisioning and deployment. Then including scalability (on demand growth and degrowth), zero touch upgrades, self-healing and virtual machine termination. A compelling demonstration where cloud speed and operational agility were clearly visualized. We run it on a nimble CloudBand Cloud Node and #MWC2013 became another instant success story.

Analyst reviews such as TBR’s stated that “the company provided strong evidence that its multiyear development of a cloud portfolio is bearing fruit in two areas: a cloud management system that can encompass management of service provider NFV elements, and a distributed cloud node that can be deployed as a “cloud in a box” close to the source of user demand. These developments were far ahead of service provider focused cloud solutions by other suppliers.” I was also happy to see that my article on “Cloudband, NFV and the game changing Carrier Cloud” was well ranked and generated quite a bit of traffic for Alcatel-Lucent’s blog.

Mobile World Congress 2014

#MWC2014 is set as a defining moment. We aim to impress again and are back with a Cloud Communications Platform where IMS, NFV, and SDN (Software Defined Networking) come together as part of a leading edge solution ready for customer trials. This live demonstration system also features SDM (Subscriber Data Management) in the carrier cloud.

NFV is now fast moving from concept to reality and the Cloud Communications Platform is ready for primetime in 2014. In my next post I will discuss ETSI NFV Use Case #5 on the virtualization of IMS, which is the underlying topic that Dan and I will be covering at MWC. Sue White and Lazar Obradovic will also be with the expert team on the show floor conducting deep dives.

Looking forward to seeing you in Barcelona at MWC’s Hall 3, Booth 3K10, or at any of these other venues.

One comment

  1. Pingback: NFV Economics and Business Case Discussion at Software Telco Congress. | innovarista

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