#MWC15 and the Mother of All NFV Demos :)
“Mobile World Congress is pretty much done and dusted for 2015, after the marathon trade show drew in crowds of over 93,000 visitors in Barcelona this week. More than 2,000 companies exhibited at the show, showcasing an incredibly broad array of mobile tech, and illustrating how mobile is pervading into all corners of modern society. The GSMA claims this year’s show grew by nine percent on 2014’s event.” – Telecoms.com
Best Mobile Network Product or Solution for Serving Customers: Alcatel-Lucent for VoLTE and Service Innovation.
“Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and service innovation are readily enabled by the Alcatel-Lucent Converged Telephony Server (CTS). The virtualized CTS uniquely extends VoLTE’s new user experience to fixed and mobile networks, for both consumer and business customers.”
“CTS is a critical part of VoLTE commercial services that were launched in the US market in mid 2014. Building on this foundation with native, open APIs, service providers and third-party developers can create many specialized applications beyond VoLTE to improve the user experience and address new vertical markets.”
Judges Comments: “This outstanding entrant represents a strong platform for service providers to achieve commercial success by allowing the integration of complex services by both service providers and third parties using the web developers’ portal and sandbox, to deliver not just the technical capabilities, but also the other elements required to speed effective commercial innovation.” – Global Mobile Awards.
Mobile World Congress is now over. Congratulations to VoLTE’s team for the above well deserved award. Our event’s team also deserves recognition for having delivered top notch activities at Alcatel-Lucent’s booth while sailing through an overwhelming schedule. MWC is one of the most intensive and high impact industry events in the telecommunications sector, which involves a large percentage of senior executives and leading experts.
What follows focuses on our Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Portfolio, showcased at a demo station purposely highly visible. By the end of the show we conducted way over 200 demonstrations at this station alone.
Ted East, VP of the Cloud Innovation Center, and I discussed “Service Agility and Lean Ops” with a fully virtualized VoLTE environment. Moreover, this was no Proof of Concept (PoC) but an end-to-end system comprised of solutions either available today or in production this year, all running on CloudBand’s Management System and Cloud Nodes.
Customers, industry analysts, investors, partners and public officials enjoyed what became an amazingly engaging Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) experience. This was the real deal. We presented no slideware or canned videos (and no smoking mirrors for that matter) to make a compelling point centered on readiness.
The conversation started by highlighting two cloud design principles which become this demonstration’s wow factors:
1.- The user experience is paramount: in this demonstration we conduct all kinds of operations, reconfigure systems, inflict serious pain and purposely cause failures in rainy day scenarios.
Wow factor: all changes were completely transparent to the end user: our VoLTE video experience remained literally unscratched and with zero downtime throughout MWC.
2.- Abstracting out complexity: this is an end-to-end system involving many sophisticated technologies, there is no denying that self-defeating complexity negates any operational benefits; it is also true talking about siloed operations is not good enough because the whole is what delivers the service.
Wow factor: absolutely everyone (technical or not) was able to follow dynamic operations on our single pane of glass, which presented the system’s topology, controls and key performance indicators (KPI) dashboard.
Visibility is key too.Those interested in zooming in and conducting deep dives were able to drill down using our solutions’ own UIs featured on the four side screens, namely Motive Dynamic Operations, Nuage Networks, CloudBand and Bell Labs Analytics.
From the get go, we let anyone simply deploy virtual network elements from a virtualization catalog. This was as easy as selecting an app on a tablet, then swiping it in the direction of the NFV Ops Center. The app would instantly appear on our largest screen as if had flown in mid air.
The point being: deploying a network function is now as easy as that. Note that under present mode of operations (PMO) deploying a single Virtual Network Function (VNF) means months and even more than a year before turning it up. It takes minutes under lean ops with NFV. Speed also allows network operators to expose more services more often to promptly gauge market demand and innovate in the process.
CloudBand did all of the heavy lifting in the background by managing the VNFs lifecycle requirements and orchestrating the underlying resources. Nuage Networks’ Software Defined Networking (SDN) took care of service chaining and Motive Dynamic Operations addressed service provisioning and assurance.
This is the outcome of a virtualized environment that is programmable and fully automated. Moreover, these are all leading best-of-breed solutions in their own right, and the overall value is even greater when working together.
We proceeded to discuss what happens when a service provider becomes a victim of success. We have seen many examples of promising service launches soon followed by unplanned pent up demand.
Business wise, this is an issue when there is no capacity to handle sudden traffic growth. Either new customers are turned down and/or existing ones become impacted by Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoS) issues.
In some other cases, the network operator would make the service costly enough to downsize demand. Others would not even offer it to prevent issues, becoming overlay conservative and risk averse. This well known situation exasperates many (whether consumers or enterprises, as well as regulators) who might not find enough of the applications and services they need based on lifestyles or to be more productive.
Success also means being in business long enough to have to deal with updates, upgrades, conducting preventive and reactive troubleshooting with increasingly shorter maintenance windows. Understanding all of these challenges, we successfully run a variety of Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) tests in a High Availability (HA) environment, coupled with Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and helped visualize this every time.
Never a dull moment, interactivity and system amazing performance kept everyone on their toes and many even extended their time with us. There were situations where our tour guides would take care of groups queuing by explaining what was going on. I recall occasions where you could hear three of four different languages at the same time.
We also discussed Bell Labs Research on predictive analytics and autonomics (machine learning) for NFV which I will blog about later on.
Long story short, “The Mother of all NFV Demos” made us proud and was a hit among network operators and industry analysts. We checked every time if anyone had seen anything like this, here at MWC or anywhere else. The feedback: the closest example was just slideware.
MWC was intensive and equally rewarding. Greetings from sunny Barcelona : )