This is the third time I get to shake hands with Michel Combes, who became Alcatel-Lucent’s CEO just a year ago. Michel is based in Paris, the company’s global headquarters and he was last here in Naperville (Chicago) this past Friday. Michel met with CloudBand’s team at CIC to further discuss NFV (Network Functions Virtualization).
NFV is an emerging technology set to redefine telecommunication systems, services and operations. The underlying paradigm shift, and a source of widespread disruption in this industry, highlights a new and relentless pursue of “software defined” environments. CloudBand is pioneering the way in the platform and distributed carrier cloud areas. Dor Skuler‘s early foresight and drive got us a head start: CloudBand makes us proud by powering CIC for the past three years already. At the time of writing this, CloudBand is now deployed in the labs of most top tier network operators worldwide.
NFV’s innovativeness openly clashes with conventional deployments that are mostly relying on fairly rigid carrier systems. When talking about conventional architectures we typically think of dedicated gear performing as proven black boxes. Unfortunately, many of the gains were achieved at the expense of operational efficiency. Today’s bloat creates complexity and fragmentation hampers adaptability. That elongates time to market and, in turn, it makes scaling a costly endeavor. Moreover, this chain reaction ends up with delivery and fulfillment concerns impacting the cost of services offered to consumer, business and public sector markets, as well as to other service providers.
NFV claims all of the benefits that “cloud economics” enable, where dynamic service delivery, lean and agile development and operations, higher utilization levels and ROA (Return on Asset), coupled with cost-effective and responsive elasticity can make all the difference. Elasticity talks to right sizing and applying proportional changes on demand. Understanding elasticity can be approached in terms of economies of scale as well as scope. Some of these service delivery changes manifest themselves in real time and, in any case, lead and implementation turnaround times happen to dramatically outpace what conventional architectures allow. We are talking about instantiating virtual resources (software defined systems) and leveraging shared pools while onboarding and deploying live services in a matter of minutes (or hours at most), instead of months and even years.
Overall, this is pretty neat stuff. I will be covering this topic in my next presentation at Software Telco Congress. I will also discuss examples illustrating why behavioral economics is of the essence. This is due to the fact that conventional business cases alone can fall short from moving the needle when accounting for deeply entrenched industry dynamics. Feel free to contact me over LinkedIn if you happen to be there in L.V. for this event and like to meet. In the meantime, past presentations are available on the content’s section of this blog.
Last Friday’s discussion with Michel at CIC was led by Ted East. Ted’s CIC is a center of excellence for carrier cloud solutions. CloudBand 2.0 deploys our Management System jointly with OpenStack and Nuage Networks’ SDN (Software Defined Networking) framework. CIC’s most visible work can be decoupled into two mainstream programs:
- Community Cloud delivers a no-hassle in-house IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) for any employee and company team to take full advantage of. The Community Cloud operates on a self-service basis.
- NFV Hub welcomes customers, partners and the company’s own business units. This program unfolds into the “NFV Lab” supporting CloudBand’s Ecosystem and the “NFV Experience” offering live demonstrations, hands-on training and community outreach. The NFV Hub involves technical consulting and knowledge exchange support.
CIC has become a key change agent by moving persistently forward with CloudBand’s vision, spreading the word, building strong relationships by supporting a wide variety of teams addressing VNF (Virtual Network Functions) across the business.
By means of an example, one of our live PoC (Proof of Concept) demonstrations, which was recently unveiled at the NFV Town Hall Meeting, makes it crystal clear that sophisticated systems such as IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and EPC (Evolved Packet Core) can be automatically deployed in minutes with literally the push of a button, or by means of analytics, engineering rules and policies for that matter. This is a collaborative effort where different business units join forces and exemplify how to take down arbitrary silos in the cloud age.
This follows up on “Mobile Meets Cloud,” a program that we unveiled in advance to Mobile World Congress early in the year, which displayed IMS and EPC as standalone virtual network functions at two different demo stations. Those of you familiar with the work done by ETSI’s Industry Specification Group for NFV will be interested in Use Case #5 on the “Virtualization of Mobile Core Network and the IP Multimedia Subsystem.”
As part of our demonstration experience, real-time communication applications are also showcased in the context of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) and with the value of a carrier PaaS’ (Platform as a Service) injecting lifecycle automation with no loss of control and full operational visibility.
There are quite a few other things that set this demonstration experience apart to make our systems fall in the realm of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law where “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Thought that stuff and the role that Bell Lab’s research and smarts play… can only be shared with an appointment ; )
Last but not least, I’d like to share that Michel is the fifth CEO we work with since I joined the company: it was great to see his level of engagement first hand here in Naperville. A town hall gathering followed his morning meetings with various teams, which required opening our two on-campus auditoriums. Those at the Schacht Auditorium followed the town hall over a video link on the theater’s screen.
The fact is that there is a sense of renewed energy building up. This feeling is actually anchored in new success stories and growing momentum. Add to that his direct communication style, approachability and positive drive, all very much welcomed at Alcatel-Lucent’s largest worldwide campus this past Friday.
See you at Software Telco Congress in a couple of weeks.