When Operators Ask “Will My Data Center Support NFV?”, Vendors Reply “Yes, But …”

David Snow
David Snow

Summary Bullets:

  • MWC 2015 has passed into history, but the Q&A between operators and vendors on how much existing data center infrastructure can be re-used for NFV continues.
  • Whether it’s using existing infrastructure better or procuring new NFV-optimized kit, vendors are stepping up to help.

As March draws to a close, and memories of Mobile World Congress 2015 start to fade, the Current Analysis’ Service Provider Infrastructure practice has been publishing its final advisory reports. The team has also been asking itself whether any aspects of the show have been overlooked and reviewing the news flow pre-, during and post the event together with digesting on-site vendor briefings around the SDN/NFV theme. One conclusion is that there seems to be an underlying “question and answer” session going on between operators and vendors about the readiness (or otherwise) of their existing data center infrastructure to support NFV. After all, NFV is supposed to liberate applications from having to run on specialized telecom hardware and set them free to run on “commodity” hardware, but is it the hardware telcos already have or is it something different? Continue reading “When Operators Ask “Will My Data Center Support NFV?”, Vendors Reply “Yes, But …””

Amdocs: Banking on New Enhancements to Its Mobile Financial Services Solution to Gain Mobile Ecosystem Clout

Ron Westfall
Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

  • Amdocs unveiled a new set of enhancements to its MFS solution, including online merchant checkout payments that target the burgeoning demand of operators and financial institutions to deploy mobile payment services that meet the distinct needs of users in developing regions.
  • Amdocs still must prove it can generate the channels, including mobile device and OS partnerships, to drive mobile ecosystem acceptance of its MFS, especially against proven mobile wallet solutions from rivals such as Ericsson and Huawei, as well as alternative credit card and web-based payment (PayPal) methods.

During Mobile World Congress 2015, Amdocs rolled out a set of new enhancements to its Mobile Financial Services (MFS) solution. The enhancements included support for online merchant checkout payments, one-click bulk transactions, unified wallet, and priority wallet features. The solution is delivered over a public or private cloud, supporting a single mobile wallet that allows users to manage and control their finances. As a result, MFS enables online merchants to expand their payment channels and enable consumers to use their mobile wallet accounts for online transactions. Continue reading “Amdocs: Banking on New Enhancements to Its Mobile Financial Services Solution to Gain Mobile Ecosystem Clout”

AT&T, SXSW, and How Virtualization Can Make a Great Time Even Better

Jason Marcheck
Jason Marcheck

Summary Bullets:

  • For years, network equipment vendors have provided support services to help improve network capacity and user experience at large events.
  • AT&T routinely rolls out specially designed mobile base stations to large events to help handle excess demand.
  • NFV solutions related to vEPC and vIMS, and perhaps even virtualized BSS, can theoretically help complete the experience by supplementing the core as these excess demands become increasingly sophisticated.

When people ask me what I do at Current Analysis, I generally respond that I’m the “vendor services guy.” You know, network optimizations, consulting, managed network ops… those are the topics that make up my “beat.” As part of this coverage, I look at engagements that are commonly referred to as “special event services.” In a nutshell, this is where vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia help their customers prepare for large festivals and other gatherings by adding extra base station capacity, as well as some network optimization to cope with the additional demand that a flood of users in a concentrated space can place on a mobile network. Continue reading “AT&T, SXSW, and How Virtualization Can Make a Great Time Even Better”

Implications of the Two-Layer Network on Next-Generation Central Offices

Rick Talbot
Rick Talbot

Summary Bullets:

  • Transport network elements are likely to remain in existing central offices, even after their control functions have been virtualized to x86 servers.
  • In some cases, the x86 servers will be consolidated in data centers that are separate from the physical network, but in others, they will be collocated.

I recently posted a report that describes how traffic demands and the promise of virtualization are leading operators to segregate the functions in the network into two layers – a cloud services layer that consists of the many functions of network that are virtualized into standard high volume x86 servers, and a transport layer that consists of the remaining functions of the network, which are focused on sending traffic across the network.. As report notes, operators are beginning to implement network functions virtualization (NFV), but they are still determining where to locate the NFV servers. The answer, of course, is likely to be in next-generation central offices (COs), headends and/or data centers, but the question remains; just what does a next-generation CO look like? Continue reading “Implications of the Two-Layer Network on Next-Generation Central Offices”

The Power of Pragmatism: Juniper’s “Innovation That Matters”

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • A theme of Juniper’s 2015 Innovation Showcase, “Innovation That Matters” points to a pragmatic view of the market.
  • This pragmatism, however, applies to its commercial as well as R&D operations – suggesting a need for more active engagement by its customers.

Last week, Juniper held its 2015 Innovation Showcase down at its Sunnyvale, CA HQ. Rami Rahim – Juniper employee #32 and current CEO – was there to kick things off and answer questions. Jonathan Davidson – GM of Juniper Development and Innovation – was there to talk up their newest launches and field some customer interviews. They showed off their latest routing and switching innovations. They hosted panel and individual sessions to talk technology along with go-to-market strategy. They had a story to tell. They captured some of it on video.

CACSpKJUQAAYfzk (1)As you might imagine, we were there and we wrote up an analysis of the event’s key takeaways: Juniper Innovation Showcase 2015: No Fighting Bears or Crossing Rivers – But Loads of Software and Silicon.

The title of the report is a not-so-subtle reference to last year’s conference where an over-arching theme was the “Rise of the Creative Planet.” Back then, CEO Shaygan Kjeradpir talked about the exciting, pioneering work Juniper was embarking on, and the ways in which Juniper was going to change the world by sparking creativity via “Cloud Building” and Juniper’s “High-IQ Networks.” This year, any romanticized comparisons to a latter-day Lewis and Clark expedition were traded in for a more pragmatic message: “Innovation That Matters.” Embedded in this message was Juniper’s focus on network performance and automation as competitive differentiators. It’s exactly the type of message you’d expect from a company’s who’s CEO was also an engineer on its “first breakthrough product.”

When your top competitor is generally acknowledged as a master of sales and marketing strategy, a focus on engineering prowess is logical. That’s not to say that Juniper’s newly messaged pragmatism ends at the lab. This year, partners (OEMs, VARs, SIs) were put front and center as key to both go-to-market and product development efforts. For large service providers, any added focus on the channel isn’t likely to change their relationship with Juniper; the vendor will likely keep direct touch points on them. For smaller carriers, the pros and cons of work working more via partners need to be acknowledged. To be sure, those partners are likely to be more responsive than Juniper might be when it comes to servicing the needs of Tier 2 or Tier 3 service providers. At the same time, where sales support, product support or product requirements are being funneled via an intermediary, a tight coupling between Juniper and its partners will be critical. In some cases, this may make it incumbent on the customer to drive engagement in order to get their demands understood and keep abreast of (then plan for) Juniper roadmaps.

Monetizing NFV: Why is it So Hard?

Peter Jarich
Peter Jarich

Summary Bullets:

  • Selling NFV as a tool for helping operators grow their revenues – vs. save on OpEx and CapEx – is something vendors have struggled with.
  • Monetizing NFV, however, needs to be seen as a core part of the technology’s value proposition, by vendors and operators, alike.

Last week, in the aftermath of Mobile World Congress, we had a customer reach out to ask about memorable demos and announcements focused on customer experience, monetization and network functions virtualization (NFV). It wasn’t immediately clear if the question was about multiple, distinct topics or about virtualization in the service of customer experience and new revenues. While awaiting a clarification, however, a friendly debate around the relationship between virtualization and monetization developed between our Service Provider Infrastructure analysts. I’m not sure that we all ended up on the same page, but I think it’s fair to say some conclusions and points of agreement were reached. Continue reading “Monetizing NFV: Why is it So Hard?”

MWC 2015: Huawei’s Business Enabling System (BES) – Ready for Digital Prime Time?

Ron Westfall
Ron Westfall

Summary Bullets:

• At MWC 2015, Huawei promoted its Business Enabling System (BES), a framework using assets like pre-integrated software modules, analytics, and API management designed to drive operator adaptation to and influence over B2C/B2B/B2B2x digital ecosystems.

• Huawei needs to produce proof of concepts (PoCs), use cases and endorsements that demonstrate operators are ready to use the BES as the integral framework required for replacing the traditional BSS and drive their overall digital transformation.

Huawei used the MWC 2015 event to promote its BES. Or more accurately, re-promote the BES framework it has championed for at least a year now (please see: Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2014: BSS Transformation Drives Huawei BES Vision, May 5, 2014). To Huawei’s credit its core message has remained consistent in advocating that the BES hierarchal architecture design – using integrated business processes adaptive to value chains, customer experience, infrastructure, and digital/non-digital services – is essential for replacing the limitations of the traditional BSS. Such legacy BSS limitations include multiple silo-bound processes predicated on delivering telco services like voice and data but not Internet-centric digital services (e.g., Baidu, Google, Alibaba, Amazon) and dependence on inflexible processes that limit operator agility.

Since Huawei has invested heavily in its BES framework, how can it differentiate and drive its BES proposition within the global digital ecosystem to prove its indispensable role in driving operator BSS and business model transformation?

Crystallize Portfolio Details: Huawei’s outbound marketing of BES continues to lack some crucial upfront portfolio details. Through inquiries to Huawei, it has become evident that portfolio elements such as service delivery platform (SDP) and cloud infrastructure products (e.g., servers, cloud engine switches, storage platforms) play key roles in addition to designated BSS-to-BES transformation products (e.g., revenue management, business analytics, customer management). Huawei’s vision and messaging would benefit from a tighter presentation of the portfolio assets needed for BES implementations.

BES and SDN/NFV?: In laying the groundwork for operator adoption of BES the linkage to meta-technology initiatives, such as SDN/NFV, SoftCOM and digital service platforms, remains tacit but scattered. In particular, Huawei needs to specify how BES interworks with NFV orchestration and SDN hypervisor technology to assure its primacy in operator digital services planning and pre-empt rival attempts to use SDN/NFV as a wedge against the framework.The Huawei BES framework proposes the transformation of the traditional BSS into the BES framework. What are the major considerations that operators need to consider in evaluating BES?

BES Integration Options: Operators must evaluate Huawei’s BES proposition in the context of understanding how much of the Huawei portfolio in areas such as SoftCOM, distributed cloud data centers and SDN/NFV integration would be required to achieve adaptation and success within the global digital ecosystem. For example, the Huawei BES framework can play a pivotal role in adoption of the Huawei SoftCOM architecture (i.e., cloud-centric business model) to assure the scalable, elastic architecture required for operator agility in driving the digital value chain. How BES supports the cloud orchestration required across the B2C/B2B/B2B2X digital ecosystems will prove essential in generating operator confidence toward adopting the framework.

Vertical Applications: Operators need to vet the Huawei BES framework in its potential to drive the targeting of vertical markets. Unlike many of its key competitors, Huawei does not customarily target customers in vertical markets directly. Since Huawei does not work directly in vertical markets, it might be fair to question the depth of its understanding of vertical market requirements. As one of Huawei’s objectives is to help its operator customers to penetrate verticals, then these customers need to know that the advice they will be getting from Huawei comes from a place of proven deployment experience. Huawei can count on rivals using vertical competencies as a differentiator in selling against the BES framework.

Overall Huawei needs to include progress with operator trials and PoCs, let alone operator endorsements and use cases, to fuel the year-plus marketing momentum behind BES. Otherwise Huawei risks entrapping BES in an early downward spiraling hype-cycle that creates the ecosystem impression that the framework lacks prime time readiness because it was too heavily promoted ahead of operator willingness to adopt BES on a robust, wide scale. Continue reading “MWC 2015: Huawei’s Business Enabling System (BES) – Ready for Digital Prime Time?”