I am in Barcelona this week for Mobile World Congress, but it somehow feels as if the mobile industry is trying to turn itself virtual. The topic of Network Function Virtualization seems to pop out at me everywhere I look around the event. I have already talked in past blogs about how Procera sees virtualization as a great enabler for innovation, but the activity this week in the NFV space signals a shift from “talking” about virtualization to “doing” virtualization. There are still some hurdles to be overcome for sure, but the conversations that are taking place now are moving beyond the “Let’s do a proof of concept” to “Let’s deploy this in 2014”.
ATT announced their strategy to move towards virtualized solutions in their mobile network with Domain 2.0, which was accompanied by several vendor announcements in the area of Virtual EPC, Orchestration and Management. ATT’s endorsement of a virtualized mobile packet core is a huge endorsement, and although it won’t happen tomorrow, it is a clear indicator of real activity in the NFV space. Equipment suppliers were also extremely active in the NFV announcement space (and not just Procera here and here). HP continued to make a big push in the NFV space with its Open NFV program, creating not just a reference architecture, but an ecosystem of partners and testing facilities for NFV applications and use cases. Alcatel expanded its Cloudband NFV program and announced it is working with Telefonica on NFV initiatives. Ericsson, Cisco, and a host of other companies splashed NFV all over their booths, with some even demonstrating NFV use cases as part of the event.
Although NFV was a big topic of discussion, it was not the only thing people were talking about at the show. The keynote was given by Mark Zuckerberg, who has the most friends on the planet with a small social network you may have heard of that is focused on how to leverage the new acquisition of WhatsApp (which has caused mobile operators worldwide some angst with lost SMS revenue). There were the usual bevy of new devices launched, highlighted by the Samsung Galaxy S5. There were over 1700 exhibitors and somewhere north of 75000 attendees (or so my taxi driver told me). There was even an extremely clever Fitbit challenge to award the participants with the most steps a new Fitbit (the winner on the first day had an extremely suspicious 68,000 steps) - for the record I averaged about 15000 steps a day, which is good considering the number of meetings I had and the amount of time I had to stand and give demonstrations in our booth!
All in all, an extremely good event for Procera and the mobile industry, and with clear signs that mobile operators will be given far more flexibility in how they can build their networks, gain insights, and take action to deliver a better experience for their subscribers. We look forward to helping them!
Topics: Expert Insights