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 Analyst Summit 2017: The IP and Optical Core Network Go Cloud – It’s About Time

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:
• The telco cloud requires an IP and optical core that can handle massive traffic growth and data center interconnection requirements. Huawei’s Network Cloud Engine (NCE) solution brings a cloud operational model to the network core.

• Huawei’s NetEngine 9000 (NE9000) IP core router delivers leading capacity to address massive 100G-centric connectivity requirements, from drivers such as 4K video.

This year, at Huawei’s 14th Annual Analyst Summit, affectionately referred to as HAS2017, we found a strong focus on the infrastructure layers of the network – specifically the IP core and optical core. The attention given these network layers has historically been sporadic, driven by necessary upgrades in link and/or switching capacity to keep up with growing traffic demands, a cycle that has occurred in four to eight year cycles, and further paced by technological breakthroughs. Recent industry discussion related to telco cloud seemed to be focused on network functions virtualization (NFV) in an effort to create an environment capable of supporting traditional carrier connectivity businesses and counter the threat from OTT players. However, with the arrival of web-scale providers and moves by operators to adopt a more flexible data center-centric architecture, attention is now focused on optimizing the core layers of the network.

With respect to SDN, the IP and optical domains have evolved separately, each having developed software to enable programmable control and management for the elements in their respective domains. To establish a common solution platform, Huawei introduced its Network Cloud Engine (NCE) to provide an integrated end-to-end solution for each domain, as well as provide the ability to combine multiple domains and multiple layers. In addition to the IP and optical domains, NCE includes additional solutions designed to address the access, metro and other network layers (to be covered in separate reports and blogs). Huawei has also expanded its flagship Network Engine 9000 (NE9000) core router portfolio and provided an update on its progress and new capabilities. The idea of providing a common control and management model for a multi-layer multi-level core infrastructure is not new, competitors are also pursuing similar approached to optimize the performance and efficiency of their core infrastructures.

CloudBackbone: The IP core layer, under Huawei’s NCE architecture, is controlled by the CloudBackbone solution, which includes the company’s Agile controller for IP, network service orchestration and a suite of common management functions. CloudBackbone provides support to address services such as HD video and features like automated service provisioning and network security. Also included is the ability to optimize traffic across the optical layer, which promises to deliver significantly greater bandwidth efficiency, support traffic on demand and improve provisioning efficiency.

CloudOptiX: The optical layer, under Huawei’s NCE architecture, is controlled by the CloudOptiX solution, which provides the equivalent management for the core optical transport layer as CloudBackbone does for the IP layer. CloudOptiX leverages Huawei’s Agile TSDN controller as well as common management functions and orchestration. By integrating IP + Optical, Huawei projects a 40% TCO savings through multi-layer planning and improvements in reliability with multi-layer restoration.

IP Core Advances: Along with Huawei’s NCE launch, the vendor provided an update on its flagship NetEngine 9000 (NE9000) IP core router portfolio which addresses massively scalable data center-centric interconnection (DCI) requirements, as well as traditional and emerging IP core routing functionality. The NE9000 (initially launched at HAS2015 in a 20-slot version) now includes a smaller 8-slot version, targeted to smaller core applications. Both models provide massive low latency 100G connectivity with port densities up to 400/160 per chassis, respectively. The design provides improved power/space efficiency through the use of advanced thermal techniques and expanded network programmability via Huawei’s programmable “Solar 5.0” silicon. Huawei further noted that the NE9000 is now deployed in ten service provider networks, and the NE9000-8 model will be commercially available in October 2017, along with 4 Tbps per slot line cards, to further increase capacity and density. The ability to support network slicing is also included, which enables operators to leverage one platform to support fixed, mobile and enterprise core applications.

The NCS and new NE9000 routing capacities highlighted at HAS2017, help us to remember that behind the software, is a highly capable data plane to deliver on the promise of next generation services. Capabilities such as Huawei’s NCE are well timed to support carrier transition to a DCI to cope with increased east – west traffic patterns, expected to grow >30% CAGR; support the adoption of fewer, but larger data centers, located outside of populated areas to address factors such as facility cost and power consumption; and adopt a more cloud-based operational model to automate provisioning and improve time to service. The noted capabilities also support the notion that carriers will want to manage their networks and cloud environments together, not as independent silos.

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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

AT&T, ECOMP and the Increasingly Difficult Pace of Virtualization

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Last week, AT&T leveraged its Shape event in San Francisco to unveil 5G launch plans, new virtualization goals for 2017, and herald the handover of ECOMP to the Linux Foundation.
  • While not immediately obvious, open-sourcing ECOMP and meeting its virtualization goals (75% of network functions by 2020) are intimately linked because, every year, virtualizing additional functions will only become harder and harder – and AT&T will need all the support it can find.

Last week, AT&T held its co-called Shape event in San Francisco.  On the agenda: progress with its AirGig solution, initial commercial 5G markets for this year and 2017 virtualization goals, and success in moving continued development of its ECOMP platform to the Linux Foundation.  Coming out of the event, an article from SDxCentral called out that these last two items were intrinsically linked – open sourcing ECOMP is critical to helping AT&T execute on its long-term virtualization goals. 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