The Perfect Storm of NFV & VoLTE Provides New Break-in Opportunities for Systems Integrators

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

Summary Bullets:

  • A pre-integrated vVoLTE core network is only one part of an end-to-end VoLTE solution; more integration challenges remain, often beyond the resources of the average carrier.
  • Third-party systems integrators are providing carriers with a way to smooth their path to VoLTE rollout, while at the same time positioning themselves to manage services in the future.

In a previous blog post – prompted by a question raised in a webinar with Oracle, “How to Overcome VoLTE Deployment Challenges”, I asked whether deploying a virtualized VoLTE (vVoLTE) core network solution would prove to be just too much of a challenge for the average Tier 2/Tier 3 carrier. This is certainly a major concern: with both VoLTE and NFV being highly disruptive, implementing both simultaneously can end up being a ‘double whammy’ on the network infrastructure. My conclusion was that this impact could be mitigated by adopting a vendor’s pre-integrated vVoLTE core network solution, provided that it doesn’t lead to vendor lock-in.

So far, so good, but unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Even a pre-integrated vVoLTE core network solution will need to be integrated with a carrier’s other major network domains: the LTE RAN and the EPC. So, there’s still more to the end-to-end VoLTE integration challenge. Not only that, but other questions arise. For example, if the carrier already has physical core network elements, such as policy controllers and session border controllers, many of which can be repurposed to support VoLTE, can they also be integrated with the new vVoLTE core? And as the list of interworking issues starts to increase and integrations grow more complex, won’t that extend carrier’s VoLTE rollout timescales?

No wonder then that the ‘perfect storm’ of VoLTE and NFV has spurred the third-party systems integrator (SI) role among carriers without enough internal resources to manage all the integrations. One of the key advantages of an SI is that it can accumulate and reuse VoLTE and NFV integration experience gained over its multiple carrier vVoLTE engagements. This puts the SI in prime position to help smooth a carrier’s path to vVoLTE rollout, both technically and economically. That’s why we are now seeing more and more SIs addressing the vVoLTE market as prime contractors and trusted third parties. And SIs will likely not stop there: in building multi-vendor cloud integration laboratories today, they could even begin to offer managed services tomorrow.

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