“Last year’s industry-defining event, Mobile World Congress, was once again hosted in the Mobile World Capital Barcelona, at two world-class venues, Fira Gran Via and Fira Montjuïc. More than 85,000 attendees from over 200 countries were treated to a wealth of learning and networking opportunities; product showcases and announcements; inspiration and innovation […] We’re on The Edge of Innovation, and the possibilities are endless. The 2015 GSMA Mobile World Congress will convene industry leaders, visionaries and innovators to explore the trends that will shape mobile in the years ahead.” – Mobile World Congress.
“Alcatel-Lucent knows that Every Success has its Network and, at MWC 2015, we will illustrate how to remove constraints that stand in the way of your success. Throughout our booth (#3K10, Hall 3) and in discussions with our executives and experts, you will discover how we are focusing on your key challenges: delivering an ultra-broadband mobile experience today with a realistic path to 5G, evolving operations to be more efficient and improve the subscriber experience, partnering to create new features and services you can sell today, and defining a 2020 network vision and a plan to get there.” – Alcatel-Lucent.
Glad to share that this year I’m joining Ted East, VP of the Cloud Innovation Center (CIC) to demonstrate innovations on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). This is an emerging and pervasive set of technologies fostering cloud solutions optimized for network operators.
We will be happy to discuss with you “Service Innovation & Lean Ops under NFV” by means of a live and interactive demonstration experience addressing the positive impact of agile service launch subject to Reliability, Availability, Serviceability (RAS) scenarios.
This end to end solution features an application centered system involving sophisticated Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and integrates Operations Support System (OSS), NFV’s Management and Orchestration (MANO) as well as Software Defined Networking (SDN) under a modular and scalable approach.
In addition to Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio which is represented by Motive Dynamic Operations (MDO), CloudBand Management Platform (CBMS) and Cloud Node, Nuage Networks, Virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC), Virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) our conversation illustrates Ecosystem examples such as Quobis’ WebRTC, findings from Bell Labs Research and presents opportunities for following up with hands on activities at the Cloud Innovation Center.
This demo station delivers a fully immersive experience: deploy a service, trigger failure scenarios on the spot, or simply make a video call with Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and enjoy service continuity while operations are in progress. At our demo station you will be able to launch services and see programmability and automatic orchestration in action and, most importantly, all delivered in a cost effective fashion without compromising RAS.
Hope we’ll see you there. If you were not able to make it to Barcelona, we can schedule a visit to the Cloud Innovation Center or to any other appropriate venue.
Last but not least, I would like to take this chance to thank the team involved in this state of the art demonstration. I also appreciate Light Reading for their kind invitation to their Cocktail Reception on Sunday, March 1, will be happy to meet at TechCrunch’s Pitch Off Event on Tuesday, March 3, and at Movistar’s Mobile World Centre located downtown Barcelona, though I don’t have a confirmed date for this yet.
Photo album: last year’s MWC.
“The annual Broadband Infovision Awards have once again taken place at the Broadband World Forum, honoring technology innovations from 12 categories across the broadband sector. Among the winners, announced at a gala ceremony at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, network specialist Alcatel-Lucent managed to pick up two awards. This year’s judging panel was made up of members of Broadband 100, the industry group including senior leaders from companies such as Telstra, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Volvo Cars.” Alcatel-Lucent is a double winner at Broadband Infovision Awards by Auri Aittokallio.
I’m back in my Chicago office and a couple of weeks have already gone by since Amsterdam’s BroadBand World Forum. First, I’d like to congratulate the teams involved in this year’s Infovision Awards. Alcatel-Lucent is the recipient of the following:
- Most Innovative Solution Provider – VDSL2 Vectoring “turbocharges broadband on copper to 100 Mbps and beyond.”
- Best Broadband Access Innovation in the “Fixed” category – G.fast Vectoring “extends the bit-rate increases provided by VDSL 2 vectoring technology.”
And these were shortlisted:
- Best Innovation Virtualization – CloudBand, “the platform for NFV, Network Functions Virtualization.”
- Best Broadband Partnership – CloudBand Ecosystem, “industry wide collaboration supporting NFV’s business opportunities.”
- Best Customer Experience Innovation – Motive, “addressing critical touch points in the relationship between communication service providers and their customers.”
Left: Alcatel-Lucent’s Hermann Buchegger, Jan van Tetering and Geert Heyninck. Center left: Alcatel-Lucent’s Andreas Lemke, Sue White, Jose de Francisco and Geert Heyninck. Center right: Jose de Francisco and BBC’s Laura-Jane Rich. Right: Geert Heynick on stage.
BroadBand World Forum is an annual ecosystem event focusing on telecoms. BBWF is positioned as a prominent fixture in the fixed broadband industry. Informa, the producers, hosted this year’s at Amsterdam’s RAI Exhibition and Convention Center. BBWF’s Infovision Award Ceremony took place at Keopelkerk Dome where Laura-Jane Rich of BBC’s Click team was the MC.
As shared in “See the Cloud at BBWF 2014” our team deployed two demo stations focusing NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) and SDN (Software Defined Networking) at Alcatel-Lucent’s booth. Additionally, Andreas Lemke spoke at BBWF’s NFV PoC (Proof of Concept) Live showcase and Phil Tilley was interviewed by Tim Skinner for and article on “Virtualization: A Fundamental Transformation.”
It is worth sharing that Tim’s article provides insights on the so-called new “softwarized” network environment. His writing also features comments by Brett Brock of Cox Communications who I last met just a few weeks before BBWF at IIT’s Real Time Communications where I chaired the conference’s Cloud Track.
Brett emphasizes the need for addressing speed and scale in the midst of trade offs that network operators make when prioritizing either one. His take is that virtualization is a game changer, which involves new workstyles and processes. Long story short, this is not business as usual in the telco space.
Back at Real Time Comms, Brett presented “NFV: Infrastructure as Code,” which examined how modern software development intersects with network engineering. If interested, you can click on the slide titled “Paradigm Shift” to display his presentation.
Following that train of thought, around this time last year, I was discussing how to go about “Demystifying the Carrier Cloud” in Chicago. My talking points covered architectural trade-offs between bundling and unbundling elements, which taken to a higher degree become tensions between:
- bundling in tightly coupled and/or highly integrated design models
- unbundling by decomposing services and decoupling functions to leverage shared resource pools.
No need to get bogged down by semantics, but the fact is that communication networks typically involve a great deal of software development. Most typically, the former prioritize performance while the later optimizes for ease of development and scalability. Them both involve pros and cons that translate into significant economic and operational differences depending on the use case.
So, when either Tim writes about “softwarization” or Brett talks about shifting to “software delivery models” what we all mean is that our industry is looking into decoupling:
- virtualization from custom hardware
- applications from dedicated hardware
- control from data planes
- application logic from application data
- distributed instances from a fixed location
Or, simply put, in NFV’s case this is about network functions working with smarts and data distributed across multiple virtual machines while sharing a common pool of resources and processes. This also talks to going beyond traditional make/buy and supply chain analysis to embrace FOSS (Free Open Source Software) and toolsets spearheaded and developed by communities, such as OpenStack, and new cloud ecosystems in the making.
Just to be clear, everything telco is digital in this day and age. Software is embedded in the industry’s DNA. So, the current focus is on “deconstructing” architectures and figuring out what it takes to make things programmable and dynamic, including the notion of predictive analytics, machine learning and “flexible automation” down the road.
When working on Intelligent Networks, my experience in product management and professional services was that technical prowess alone does not move the needle to a noticeable enough degree until shifts in value, investment, procurement, pricing and accounting considerations are all factored. More on how to cross that chasm in subsequent articles on this blog. It’s now time to circle back to BBWF.
The above shows a snapshot of the NFV Discussion Tool leveraged for conversations on VoLTE (Voice over LTE, Long Term Evolution) with network operators, government officials, analysts and partners at BBWF.
This version of the Discussion Tool runs on an Internet browser, is neatly organized by relevant topics and features supporting infographic style visuals. All just a single “click” away by means of always-on floating menus. When working on information architecture and concept visualization, we strived to make it easier to address, navigate and interact with complex subjects, avoiding self-defeating information overload.
This kind of a conversation experience allows dynamic storylines to be crafted on the fly, instead of relying on a repetitive and mostly linear storyboard. Basically, pertinent insights are delivered on a need to know basis when relevant. We instantly factored knowledge, interest and available time given the conversation each conversation flow. We purposely stayed away from “presentation” monologues and operated more on a “consulting” discussion mode.
Compelling and engaging demos drove our points home and helped provide with relevant experiences and the wow factor to understand and retain key concepts. Last but not least, demos prompted the next level of questions, deeper dives and richer conversations.
As far as the guiding narrative, with most early 4G deployments first focusing on mobile broadband (high speed wireless Internet access), many users are not fully aware of the fact that previous generation and older networks are still handling voice calls.
VoLTE gets both running on the 4G network instead, and it does that with high definition voice. Voice and video calls can then take full advantage of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) technology.
Moreover, beyond any benefits related to operating under just one and better network environment, VoLTE is about new communication experiences. NCAPI (New Conversation APIs, Application Programmable Interfaces) is an Alcatel-Lucent program exposing network resources to software developers to that end, which Gilles Duboue covers in this video.
Alex joined me at BBWF to illustrate how a Salesforce user receives an incoming call, which he/she picks up on a laptop’s web browser. This automatically displays the caller’s customer data and relationship history, placing the call in context.
When the user needs to move to another location, the phone call continues on his/her mobile phone thanks to a seamless handover that is completely transparent to the person he/she is speaking to.
This live demonstration was very well received and Alex does an excellent job at explaining how NCAPI delivers for Phonedeck’s users. So, thanks again.
Early on I referred to decoupling concepts in the context of network engineering and virtualization practices. Let’s now connect the dots. The same can be said about developing end user services where most of today’s applications consume resources and engage processes available from different domains via API. The bulk of today’s applications are, therefore, examples of distributed systems by design.
APIs are interfaces that link at least two separate components. I know that I am stating the obvious, but the point is that the behavior of the underlying component is of the essence, just being able to interface with it is not good enough. Holding that thought, let’s talk about what success looks like.
In this best case and highly desirable scenario, a fast growing number of developers work with an also growing number of APIs. As a result, innovation flourishes. This means many more new services being deployed, where more of the network resources and processes happen to be requested and consumed. And, by the way, quite a few “on demand” and only as needed. Growing end user demand adds a multiplier factor, a network and, possibly, viral effect.
In this chain reaction, would there be enough capacity to meet demand, will the network operator scale fast and far enough, or can history repeat itself and become a victim of success? Those of you familiar with these issues might have already guessed that the stage is set for the cloud demo.
The above portrays a time lapse version of a live demonstration first deployed at IDF 2014 (Intel Developers Forum) in September, where Alcatel-Lucent was the recipient of a “Best in Show” award in the Software Category as well as being honored with a “First” mention in Cloud.
Our Cloud Innovation Center shows how to automatically deploy a virtual EPC, making mobile broadband available immediately after. It then proceeds to add a virtual IMS to the mix: VoLTE becomes a live service on the spot. It takes less than one hour for this NFV system to deliver the goods, right scaling and chaining other value added services, such as Phonedeck’s application, in the process. Compare that to conventional architectures taking months and even more than a year to deploy.
We now need to insert economics in this picture: I would like to single out the “opportunity cost” which is typically defined as the loss incurred when giving up a valid alternative. This consistently came up in business case conversations with global network operators wherever concerns were raised around timely innovation and sustainable competitiveness. From a risk management standpoint, disruption materializes as the migration of value and disintermediation.
This is about measuring the opportunity cost incurred when typically waiting for more than a year to launch a new service, compare that to [a] faster time to market for [b] multiple services instead and starting with [c] significantly lower budget thresholds. My recollection is that Dimitris Mavrakis’ address at the Infovision Awards Ceremony touched on that topic as well when he shared that out of the five days that it takes Facebook to get a new service up and running, more than four are taken up by a network operator’s lead time (execution latency that is) and figuring out how to work with them.
Leading by example, our company’s investment strategy shows a strong commitment to getting key network functions delivered as VNFs (EPC and IMS being two leading examples) and our portfolio includes CloudBand’s NFV Platform, Cloud Nodes as well as Nuage Network’s SDN solution… all at the time of writing this already and with more announcements to come soon.
Overall, BBWF 2014 was a very productive event for our team. Those of us focusing on NFV were kept busy from beginning to end.
There is a need for thanking and crediting Lisa Horianopoulus and her team for all of the effort put into designing our presence and organizing a number of activities conducted at this event. Additionally, I’d like to express my gratitude to Gilles Duboue for work done in advance and, as usual, kudos to the team at the Cloud Innovation Center.
Click on the above mosaic to access the photo album on Flickr.
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.