NFV MANO – Entering Yet Another Bout of Turbulence

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Turbulence in the NFV MANO market is high; that can be good to shakeout problems, but it also makes for an uncomfortable flight.
  • Some operators have decided to take matters into their own hands; others are engaging a trusted vendor to “just make it work”.

As with any long haul flight, the risk of experiencing periods of turbulence is ever present.  The flight metaphor is also appropriate to long haul telecom network transformation projects, and NFV is certainly the largest to be navigated by the industry in the past 20 years. The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) architectural block is a good indicator of the “flight status” of the whole NFV project, which now seems to be entering a new phase of turbulence. A couple of recent announcements have highlighted some major, and sometimes forgotten, basics: Read more of this post

TM Forum Live! 2017: Open Source MANO Continues to Divide Opinion

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Open source MANO initiatives continue to divide opinion across both the vendor and carrier communities, recent polls show.
  • The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track strategy – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

During GlobalData’s “Vive le Forum! A Recap of TM Forum Live! 2017” webinar in May, we invited attendees to respond to the poll question “Open Source MANO projects have now reduced to two (ONAP and OSM). Will this help to accelerate operator MANO procurement?” The results were as follows:

It was exactly a 50-50 split (honest!) between those who thought YES and those who thought NO, furthermore no particular YES or NO reason dominated. This suggests that open source MANO remains a divisive issue in the industry as a whole (and yes, both vendors and carriers were represented and responded across all four options).

An earlier survey in March conducted by SDxCentral tended to confirm this conclusion, reporting that “26% of Users Will Not Consider Open Source MANO”. In the same report, 49% also said that they will consider open source MANO solutions “once they are more mature.” Of course, no poll is ever an accurate portrayal of the real world and you can always poke holes in the questions, demographics and sample sizes, but I think we can conclude from the general drift of these results that, at least for now, open source MANO of any flavor, has not gained majority acceptance.

 

But will it ever gain that acceptance? Most players accepted and indeed welcomed open source initiatives in the VIM domain (OpenStack and OPNFV) and even its extension into the VNFM domain (OpenStack Tacker) – but open source in the NFVO and above? That came as a real surprise. GlobalData discussions with NFV MANO vendors at TM Forum Live! 2017 revealed a full spectrum of views on the “intrusion” of open source MANO into the market and whether incorporation – either piecemeal or wholesale – into vendor offerings was a good idea.

On the “far YES” side we found Amdocs maintaining a very positive view, given its position with AT&T, ECOMP and ONAP, effectively replacing its earlier commercial product with ONAP and even tweeting in May “These numbers would probably be significantly different if the survey was taken today #ONAP” in response to the SDN Central survey. On the “far NO” side, vendors like HPE were really concerned that, despite some of its advantages, the prospect of open source MANO alternatives has introduced an unwelcome “pause” in carrier minds that they can ill afford to take. Most other vendors are scattered somewhere in between, although more naturally clustered toward the “NO” end.

At the end of the day, however, it will be carriers, not vendors that decide the fate of open source MANO. Our impression at TM Forum Live! 2017 was that many of them indeed are just “waiting,” which we consider a risky strategy. The wisest carriers are likely those pursuing a dual track approach – using a commercial MANO offering to go to market now, while evaluating open source MANO offerings as potential alternatives for the future.

TM Forum Live! 2017: Bringing Telco IT Up to Real-Time Network Speeds

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The 2017 edition of TM Forum Live! is in Nice, France next week, and with the nature of telco IT-network interactions undergoing radical change, the ‘Live!’ suffix is more appropriate than ever.
  • NFV MANO, advanced network analytics and 5G network slice management are all hot topics with operators and vendors alike, and all play their part towards the goal of autonomous network operation.

In the same way that Mobile World Congress has steadily evolved over the years to be far more than just a mobile network event, next week’s annual TM Forum event has continued to expand. It used to be the place for ‘telco IT’ systems and carrier operation based on OSS and BSS, and if there was any direct linkage to the telecom network, it would be largely in terms of non-real time network management interactions. In fact, the nearest to ‘real time’ these network-telco IT interactions operated at was as a continuous and one-way ‘blast’ from the network to the telco IT systems delivering such things as fault reports. OSS and carrier operations staff then had to filter all these reports, prioritize them and finally decide what to do about them; that was (and largely still is) very far from real time. Now, however, everything is changing with the advent of network functions virtualization (NFV) and NFV management and orchestration (MANO). These new telco IT-network interactions must be both two-way and very close to real time for the network to remain operational at all, similar to the manner in which some modern fighter aircraft would literally fall out of the sky without automated, real-time aerodynamic trimming. Read more of this post

Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2017: “ALL CLOUD” Vision Takes the Company into New Territory

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:
• The 2017 edition of Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit (GAS) presented the company’s “ALL CLOUD” strategic vision.

• “ALL CLOUD” goes further than most, if not all, of the company’s peers. Huawei will certainly execute but carriers will need to commit.

As is customary for the Huawei’s annual GAS, analysts are presented with a firehose of increasingly detailed information and presentations over three days. On Day 1, key executive strategy sessions kick off the show. Day 3, then, ends with one-on-one analyst briefing on specific products and services. During the three days, the company also makes every effort to show that the key themes of Day 1 cascade down into ever corner of its business. Read more of this post

Gauging Initial Reaction to ONAP at Mobile World Congress 2017

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The formation of the ONAP project from the combination of open ECOMP and OPEN-O reduces the complexity of the NFV MANO standardization process.
  • While ONAP is a welcome and timely development, some MANO vendors at Mobile World Congress were ambivalent; for them, getting on with the job is more important.

On February 23, the week before Mobile World Congress, the Linux Foundation announced the merger of open source ECOMP and OPEN-O to form the new Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) project. Then, on February 27, the very day that MWC opened, ETSI reported that Open Source MANO (OSM) had reached 60 members, including Verizon as its most recent operator member. Thus, MWC was a great opportunity to sound out industry reaction to these moves. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

NFV MANO Templating: Being “Open” with Your Hard-Won Experience Becomes a New Competitive Differentiator

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • December 2016 saw a flurry of high impact NFV MANO market developments and suddenly everyone is talking “templating.”
  • Contributing VNF templating experience and tools to the “open” market does not come naturally to telecom vendors, but it’s now well on its way to being a competitive advantage.

Though it’s still early days, December 2016 was something of a high spot for NFV MANO.

During the month, AT&T proudly announced that it had finally got some public operator buy-in for ECOMP, reporting that first Orange and then Bell Canada were testing its platform. After that, a rather uninspiring term, templating, came to the fore and suddenly became a “hot topic”. Read more of this post