I spent last week in Palo Alto at the Carrier Network Virtualization event in Palo Alto, and it was an interesting mix of hope, optimism, and reality check. There were a few key messages that came out of the conference, and they were surprisingly common across DSL, Cable, and mobile operators.
1) Operators want virtualized product options: Some operators are going as far as saying that they are not interested in your solution if it does not come in a virtualized flavor. There were a number of prominent presenters from North American and International operators like Cox Communications, Deutsche Telekom, Century Link, Orange, and Telus all presented and gave their views on why virtualization is important to them.
2) Reasons for Virtualization are not necessarily cost related: Although cost benefits are often mentioned as a reason for wanting NFV, operators are citing flexibility and speed of deployment as drivers that are usually more important for their business.
3) Data plane NFV needs a champion: There was a lot of hesitancy about virtualizing too many forwarding paths. There are several “known” issues around the performance of packet forwarding in virtualized solutions today, but they are primarily infrastructure optimization that will be fixed. All it will take is for a solution to come out and show that a virtualized version of their product does not have a massive performance hit, and this issue will go away.
4) Opportunities for software innovation are ripe with NFV: In an environment where “My hardware is installed” is no longer an acceptable blocking tactic by incumbent vendors, companies that can deliver the best quality software that results in new services, cost savings, and easier deployments will be the long-term winner. It also makes it “easier” to throw out non-performing vendors (no hardware lock-in), so operators have far more flexibility to introduce new options if a vendor does not deliver on promises.
NFV is not here for carriers…yet. But I expect in 2014 you will start to see real deployments that will prove out why so many operators banded together to form the NFV ISG group within the ETSI organization, and so many of the bright minds in operators are evangelizing the concept non-stop to their vendors.
Topics: What We're Up To