NTT DOCOMO’s vEPC Launch “Take 3”: Scoring 1 – 1 in the NFV MANO Vendor Stakes

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure
David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • Vendor jostling for limelight in DOCOMO’s flagship vEPC rollout has finally subsided.
  • At the end of the day, Ericsson and Netcracker came out best in the multi-vendor stakes.

Back in March, NTT DOCOMO commercially launched its national vEPC infrastructure and we made some comments in this blog of March 17 around the significance of this rollout in terms of being “multi-vendor”, “NFV” and “on time”.  In particular, we noted that DOCOMO had selected three vendors from an original cadre of six after several years of intense cross-vendor VNF/MANO/NFVI testing. Almost immediately, that statement was challenged by a Fujitsu announcement (flagging up its role in the project and fronting Nokia’s products), which we then summarized in the blog of April 7. That blog made some observations around VNFM procurement, but now that the dust has settled, what do we now know?

What’s happened since?

Thankfully there have been no further announcements or frantic calls to Current Analysis for clarification to put the record straight. However, we have had further discussions with all the major vendors involved, most recently at TM Forum Live! 2016.  Putting it all together, DOCOMO’s vEPC project vendor landscape now looks like this:-

  • Ericsson provides the NFV Orchestrator (NFVO) and NFV Infrastructure.
  • NEC/Netcracker and Fujitsu/Nokia each provide their VNFMs together with their vEPC VNFs.
  • Netcracker provides the orchestration above the NFV MANO and the interface to DOCOMO’s OSS.

Which vendors came out better?

Naturally every vendor deserves credit for staying the course in DOCOMO’s project and playing a part in this flagship deployment. However, at this stage, from a multi-vendor NFV MANO perspective, both Ericsson and Netcracker merit calling out.

  • Firstly, Ericsson has shown that it can both deliver NFV orchestration for third party VNFMs and that it’s Virtual Infrastructure Manager (VIM) can support third party VNFs.
  • Secondly, Netcracker has shown that it can orchestrate services across third party NFV MANO and SDN controllers and interface everything required into DOCOMO’s existing OSS.

And the conclusion?

The NFV MANO vendor landscape is a mix of players originating from either the network-side or IT-side. Ericsson and Netcracker are prime examples of these heritages, and while each have portfolios and capabilities spanning both domains, it looks like DOCOMO has selected each for functions to which they are historically and naturally suited.

So, for the moment, it’s 1 – 1 in the NFV MANO stakes.



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