Just in Time: The VNF Marketplace Opens for Business in 2015

David Snow
David Snow

Summary Bullets:

  • Four announcements in one week on the status of rival VNF interoperability and NFV partner ecosystems point to the fact that the VNF market is well and truly open for business.
  • Despite the fact that there has been some jostling for limelight between VNF ‘independents’ and major VNF vendors, all this is good news for telcos.

With the holiday season looming, December is either a time when telecom vendor activity starts to fall off or, conversely, there’s a rush to get things out by the end of the calendar year. The latter seemed to be the case for the network functions virtualization (NFV) ecosystem during the course of the past week, when we were treated to a barrage of announcements in this area.

Light Reading started the ball rolling by publishing its multivendor NFV interoperability test report, the first result from its New IP Agency (NIA) and EANTC collaboration. The very next day, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced its OpenNFV Solution Portal. After a couple of days, Alcatel-Lucent then commented on what it learned from the NIA/EANTC exercise (and its CloudBand Ecosystem), and a couple later, Nokia reported on its “growing telco cloud ecosystem” (and its partner certification program).

So, what are we to make of this? There are a few conclusions we might draw:

The Virtual Network Functions (VNF) Market Is Well and Truly ‘Open’ for Business

We’ve known for some time that leading NFV-oriented Tier 1 telcos have been very busy qualifying suppliers and procuring their VNFs. Now, with the advent of public domain VNF interoperability testing (IOT) results, the opening of vendor service provider portals and catalogs, etc., the VNF market is accessible to carriers of all sizes. We’re certainly not at the ‘app store’ stage yet, but we’re definitely heading that way.

The Co-opetition Between VNF Independents and VNF Suppliers Is ‘On’

Considering the timing and content of the news flow, it’s difficult to avoid the observation that Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia didn’t want the NIA and HPE to steal all the NFV ecosystem limelight. They make the case that they have gone further in testing, as well as having generally more experience and probably more partners. That said, there’s also the recognition that bringing testing out of the ‘closet’ (Alcatel-Lucent’s term) is good for everyone.

Of course, there’s much more that can be said on the detailed content of these announcements, and Current Analysis is continually tracking the pace of NFV development on a fine-grain basis. There are certainly going to be winners and losers in the transition from physical network functions (PNFs) to VNFs, as there will be among OSS and management and orchestration (MANO) vendors. This naturally leads to a final point. What about other large vendors claiming multi-vendor NFV ecosystems? There’s still time before the end of the year, but not much.

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