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

Virtual VoLTE: A ‘Marriage Made in Heaven’ or a ‘Double Whammy’?

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Deploying a VoLTE-capable network core has become much easier and faster with NFV.
  • However, some of today’s pre-integrated vVoLTE solutions may re-introduce the specter of vendor lock-in.

Like virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE), virtual voice over LTE (vVoLTE) is viewed by operators and vendors alike as one of the top NFV use cases slated for early implementation. In many ways, vVoLTE’s popularity has been the result of fortuitous timing. VoLTE depends on the deployment of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), which until now has been both a costly and protracted deployment undertaking for the carrier. However, NFV now offers infrastructure cost reduction by using shared common hardware and a faster, software-only implementation of IMS using virtual network functions (VNFs). Put these two together and you seem to have a ‘marriage made in heaven’ (that’s good). Read more of this post

Three Different Approaches to VNF Data Management Could Spell Trouble Ahead

Summary Bullets:

  • David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

    David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

    ‘Stateless operation’ is the result of taking all the state (or session) data out of an application and relocating it into some form of ‘shared data entity’ to enable easier VNF scaling, failover, upgrade and so on.

  • With at least three different approaches emerging, VNF data management may prove as much of a hindrance to NFV rollout as NFV MANO.

In a previous Network Matter blog post, we identified how ‘cloud native’ terminology is now being used to highlight the differences between simply converting existing physical network function-based software into VNFs and creating VNFs ‘designed for the cloud’ from the start. In “Microservices: How ‘Cloud Native’ Are Network Vendors Today?”, we looked at some of the unanswered questions around microservices. This blog takes the cloud native discussion a little further by discussing the issues around ‘stateless operation.’ Read more of this post

Microservices: How ‘Cloud Native’ Are Network Vendors Today?

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • ‘Cloud native’ is the new virtualization mantra, often used to highlight the characteristics of applications designed for the cloud from the start.
  • A host of smaller network vendors are already claiming to be ‘microservices-based,’ a key attribute of being ‘cloud native.’ Larger vendors need to be careful not to lag behind.

It could hardly have escaped anyone’s notice at the SDN World Congress in The Hague this October that ‘cloud native’ is the new mantra in describing virtualized network functions (VNFs). Hardly a discussion or presentation from either operator or vendor took place without mentioning the term at least once. Generally, the term ‘cloud native’ highlights the differences between simply converting physical network function-based software into VNFs and creating VNFs ‘designed for the cloud’ from the start. Read more of this post

The ‘Open’ Telecom Application Server (TAS): Helping Carriers Go ‘Beyond VoLTE’

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Deploying just VoLTE makes little difference to carrier voice revenues or competitiveness; carriers now need ‘beyond VoLTE’ services differentiation.
  • Such service differentiation is sparking a new wave of vendor telecom application server (TAS) offerings and openness.

Nokia recently launched a new version of its TAS (see here), positioning it as a ‘beyond VoLTE’ offering. Nokia, however, isn’t the first to focus on the ‘beyond VoLTE’ business issue. Oracle Communications did something similar last year (see here), and in April, OpenCloud went as far as to produce a downloadable software package for ‘VoLTE service development’ on its own application server (see here). Read more of this post

NFV MANO Standardization: Becoming an Ever More Public Affair

David Snow - Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T’s decision to open source ECOMP and its selection of Amdocs as a partner illustrate that traditional standardization by cooperation behind closed doors is being superseded by public and open initiatives.
  • The number of operator-vendor-open source combinations for NFV MANO continues to increase. A shakeout is both inevitable and necessary to bring about multi-vendor VNF interoperability.

The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) market doesn’t take a break, even during the summer holiday season. The news that AT&T has selected Amdocs “to serve as integrator for companies adopting AT&T’s open source Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management & Policy (ECOMP) platform” has highlighted the unusual ecosystem dynamics of NFV and the MANO ecosystem in particular. Rather than the usual press release format, where a vendor touts the fact that an operator has selected or deployed its solution, here we have an operator, a vendor and a yet unnamed open source software community all working together towards producing a solution which, it is hoped, will be adopted by all other operators.

Maybe, though, this isn’t quite as new as it seems. Read more of this post