NFV MANO Standardization: Becoming an Ever More Public Affair

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T’s decision to open source ECOMP and its selection of Amdocs as a partner illustrate that traditional standardization by cooperation behind closed doors is being superseded by public and open initiatives.
  • The number of operator-vendor-open source combinations for NFV MANO continues to increase. A shakeout is both inevitable and necessary to bring about multi-vendor VNF interoperability.

The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) market doesn’t take a break, even during the summer holiday season. The news that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” has highlighted the unusual ecosystem dynamics of NFV and the MANO ecosystem in particular. Rather than the usual press release format, where a vendor touts the fact that an operator has selected or deployed its solution, here we have an operator, a vendor and a yet unnamed open source software community all working together towards producing a solution which, it is hoped, will be adopted by all other operators.

Maybe, though, this isn’t quite as new as it seems. Read more of this post

AT&T, Amdocs & Open Source ECOMP: Opening Pandora’s Box

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • AT&T’s selection of Amdocs as integrator for its ECOMP platform has taken the market by surprise, although there have been indicators of collaboration between the two companies for several months.
  • Endowing Amdocs with the responsibility for managing ECOMP within an open source MANO group poses a risk that other vendors may shy away from contributing their software.

The news last week that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” seems to have met with relatively little market reaction. This may be due to something as mundane as the fact that this is the holiday season or perhaps that the many players in the NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) ecosystem are still digesting the impact of such news. From the Current Analysis perspective, we see AT&T’s move as very significant as our intelligence alert “AT&T Gives Amdocs a Key Role in Plotting ECOMP World Domination” indicates. Read more of this post

Verizon’s NG-PON2 Trial: Reality and Historical Perspective Needed to Temper the Hype

Erik Keith - Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst, Fixed Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Verizon’s NG-PON2 trial provides both ADTRAN and Calix/Ericsson with the opportunity to establish a foothold in one of the world’s highest-profile FTTH networks and pressure incumbent supplier Nokia in the process.
  • Optics pricing for NG-PON2 – as much as 10x higher than current GPON prices – means that any vendor meeting Verizon’s demand of deploying NG-PON2 at GPON prices will prove hard-pressed to realize product line profits.

Verizon has announced that it will be trialing NG-PON2 solutions from U.S.-based vendors ADTRAN and Calix, with resale partner Ericsson supporting Calix for good measure. While this trial will be in Verizon’s Waltham, Massachusetts-located FiOS laboratory – i.e., a lab trial, not a field trial, let alone commercial deployment – it has nevertheless generated substantial hype in the industry. To be clear, winning formal, publicly disclosed trial status with Verizon or other Tier 1 operators is no small feat. For both ADTRAN and Calix, winning a slice of Verizon’s NG-PON2 FiOS network upgrade and service deployment would be one of the biggest wins in company history. But, before we all get too excited about the prospects of Verizon going full steam ahead with NG-PON2, several factors must be considered. Read more of this post

GigaSpaces’ Cloudify 3.4 Provides a Solution to Combine VMs and Containers

Glen Hunt - Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

Supports Both VM and Container Stacks: Cloudify 3.4 simultaneously supports VM stacks, container stacks and hybrid stacks; providing support for current VM deployments while migrating to more efficient container-based solutions.

Leverages Open Source Innovation: Cloudify 3.4 leverages open source innovations such as Kubernetes technology, which helps support distributed container-based applications and deliver the hybrid stack capabilities.

The new Cloudify 3.4 release from GigaSpaces removes significant deployment barriers for service providers (and enterprises) that are considering migrating their virtualization architectures from a virtual machine (VM)-based model to a more streamlined and efficient container-based architecture to support microservices. The merits of this transition are covered well in many industry blogs and reports and will not be the focus here. However, what’s new is that this new version of Cloudify supports both environments (VM and container) as well as a combination of the two (hybrid). This is an important capability, because as the industry moves beyond simply proving the basics of network virtualization, traditional service provider strengths such as performance, scalability and efficiency move front and center. Cloudify 3.4 promises to support current implementations while enabling new applications to be container-based, thereby providing users a flexible migration path to the future. In addition to the dual-stack support, the new release supports fully automated “in-place” infrastructure upgrades, which helps to minimize down-time and eases migration to new software versions without impacting on-going services.

Read more of this post

Lofty 5G Manifesto Goals Overshadowed by Net Neutrality Concerns

John ByrneSummary Bullets:

• The good news: European operators and vendors are planning 5G in at least one city per EU country by 2020 and appear to be in lockstep in taking a pan-European, cross-border approach to deploying 5G.

• The bad news: Their Manifesto identified a host of regulatory issues and potential roadblocks to deployment. Ultimately, net neutrality concerns could hamper 5G investment.

An impressive roster of European operators (plus Nokia and Ericsson) issued the 5G Manifesto on July 7. The document reflects progress on the EU’s “5G Action Plan” designed to solidify Europe’s leadership in deploying 5G as standards harden in 2020. That in itself is significant, as the North American operators were the clear leaders in LTE deployment, and early pre-5G trial announcements largely focused on APAC, especially Korea. However, the manifesto also came with a laundry list of challenges and “asks” from the EU in order to avoid stifling 5G growth.

First the good news:

Strong Regional 5G Support: The 15 operators supporting 5G deployment include all of the big hitters, notably Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and BT. Collectively the group plans to deploy at least one “smart city” leveraging 5G technology by 2020 in 28 countries. That’s a markedly different approach than European operators took in LTE deployment, which occurred at significantly different rates depending on operator and country.

Clarified Focus on the Most Important Verticals: European operators are focusing on specific use cases with the best chance of showcasing the ROI around investing in 5G. The verticals initially targeted include connected car, eHealth, transport/logistics, public safety, and utility/smart grid. The use cases being envisioned aren’t exactly groundbreaking – many of them are already seeing LTE or even 2G/3G deployment – but do reflect a degree of coherence among European operators.

Upcoming Opportunities to Showcase 5G: Early 5G trial announcements have centered around Asian venues such as the South Korean Olympics in 2018. To re-inject Europe into this discussion, operators and vendors have identified several major Euro events happening in the same timeframe that can serve as 5G trial opportunities; specifically, the Glasgow-Berlin European Soccer Championships in 2018 and the European Soccer Championship 2020. While not exactly at the “cachet” level as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics, both events should provide an important opportunity to position Europe as a 5G hotbed.

So clearly the European operators are intent on prioritizing 5G – that’s good for the entire 5G ecosystem of handset, silicon, and network equipment vendors, not to mention European wireless customers. Unfortunately, the bulk of the document focused on what the industry needs to achieve its full 5G potential. And the list of “asks” was lengthy:

Bandwidth, Please: As always, bandwidth to keep pace with endlessly increasing usage patterns looms large. For Euro operators, this means harmonized licensing of 700MHz, 3.4-3.8GHz, as well as >24GHz bands for backhaul. The lack of clarity (and harmonization) on if/when spectrum might be made available, how it might be doled out, and how quickly existing bands can be repurposed for 5G, needs to be clarified. (Note – the FCC provided a good example of the kind of initiatives European operators are looking for, providing new rules July 14 that open up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for wireless broadband, including 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum.)

Show Me the Money: In order to help make the vertical use cases work, Euro operators are looking for the EU to directly fund individual use cases ranging from €0.5 billion -$€1.0 billion. In addition, the Manifesto calls for a 5G venture fund to take equity stakes of more than €1 billion in European start-ups developing 5G technologies and applications. In theory, sovereign investment should embolden private equity investors to follow suit.

Regulatory Certainty: 5G Manifesto proponents, not surprisingly, want to be regulated as lightly as possible. In some areas, such as harmonized rules regarding establishing rights-of-way for the installation of passive facilities; supportive municipal site rental charges; and removing taxation of sites and antennas; the Manifesto is clearly well-aimed. In others (see next section) the manifesto walked into the middle of a maelstrom.

No Net Neutrality: The 5G Manifesto calls for an environment in which “all players in the digital value chain should operate on a level playing field” and warned that current net neutrality guidelines stifle investment. Then the threat: “Investments are therefore likely to be delayed unless regulators take a positive stance on innovation and stick to it.” Though the language was obscured in Alan Greenspan-esque cloudiness, the message is very clear – the lofty pan-European 2020 5G deployment plans may not materialize if operators aren’t able to sell differentiated service offerings with performance characteristics dictated by the specific use case.

In total, the 5G Manifesto provides some optimism; however, the challenges facing operators in eyeing widescale 5G deployment in Europe are significant. The bad news is that many of these challenges are unlikely to be resolved immediately, or perhaps at all: Requested investment from EU or its constituent countries may or may not materialize; spectrum may take longer to become available than operators hope; and more favorable rental and tax treatment may not be coming at all. But none of these are likely to be deal breakers. However, net neutrality raises a major obstacle to the ability of operators to offer network slices, which by definition enable different levels of service to be offered to different customers, and in turn directly challenges the notion of equal Internet treatment for all. And 5G-enabled network slicing is a key factor driving the ROI case for mobile operators. That means that, for all the promise that the 5G Manifesto holds for an aggressive pan-European 5G deployment, it is very much an open question whether operators are truly committed to the 28-city deployment plan unless the vexing net neutrality issue is resolved in their favor.

Facebook Open Sources the RAN with OpenCellular: What Now?

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Facebook’s OpenCellular looks to bring Internet connectivity to rural and unconnected users thanks to open sourcing the designs for a new RAN platform.
  • Simply open sourcing its RAN designs is far from sufficient for OpenCellular to be successful, much less change the world.

The dead of summer is usually a quiet time for major telecom news. Multi-week European vacations get in the way of launches, and introductions from trade shows earlier in the year simply exhaust the set of innovations available to make noise about. So, when early July sees a new radio access network (RAN) launch from a tech darling (and telecom outsider) like Facebook, it’s big news.

Or is it? Read more of this post

Ericsson & Nokia: A Tale of Two (Similar but Different) Messages

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • Earlier this month, Nokia and Ericsson hosted Analyst Summits in quick succession, providing an opportunity to compare their strategies and messaging.
  • Broadly, the two telecom networking leaders are pursuing a common strategy and telling similar stories, with Nokia seemingly more intent on evolving beyond telecom.

We’ve already written about Nokia’s first global Analyst Summit following the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.  We’ve treated it in this blog, as well as digging into its OSS/BSS, Fixed Access, Transport & Routing, and IP Services Infrastructure strategies.  A Tuesday/Wednesday event in Helsinki, Nokia’s Summit was followed by Ericsson’s version in Stockholm on Thursday and Friday. Read more of this post

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