Nokia Shuffle Intensifies Focus on Mobile and Services, but Managerial Changes Are Ill Timed

John Byrne

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia will divide up its Mobile Networks and Chief Innovation and Operating Officer units to align with the company’s ‘Rebalancing for Growth’ strategy unveiled in November 2016.
  • The moves create greater visibility for Nokia’s services unit, and should lead to improved operating efficiency and strategic investment, but significant management changes give the impression of disarray.

On March 17, Nokia announced changes in its organization and leadership team, to better execute the strategy unveiled by CEO Rajeev Suri at the company’s Capital Markets Day in November 2016:

  • Mobile Networks will be divided into two distinct organizations: Products & Solutions and Global Services. Marc Rouanne will assume control of the Products & Solutions unit, while current Mobile Networks President Samih Elhage will step down. Igor Leprince will continue to head up Global Services and will be added to Nokia’s Group Leadership Team (GLT), an indication of the growing importance of services.
  • Despite being placed within Mobile Networks, Global Services will house all managed network services and company-wide global service delivery. The Global Services unit will also be responsible for developing a common approach for processes and tools, managing a Services Committee to coordinate services development across different groups, with a common Customer Delivery Manager responsible for managing all services for a single customer.
  • Global Services will also continue to drive emerging strategic service areas such telco cloud, ‘x as a service’ (XaaS), prime integration and transformation consulting.
  • The former Chief Innovation and Operating Officer (CIOO) organization will be split into three: A traditional ‘operating’ unit will focus on internal operations, while responsibility for ‘innovation’ will revert to CTO Marcus Weldon and Chief Strategy Officer Kathrin Buvac. Monika Maurer, currently COO of the fixed business, will became company COO; both Maurer and Weldon will join the GLT. (Buvac is already a member.)

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Happy Birthday to AVA: A One-Year Checkup on Nokia’s Cognitive Platform

Paul Rizzuto – Senior Analyst, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • In the year since Nokia announced its AVA cognitive services platform, the vendor has announced a slew of services leveraging the technology, signaling an intention to incorporate the platform widely.
  • Predictive repair and the MIKA digital assistant represent two such innovations as the result of AVA, but the nature of cognitive platforms asserts the real story is the refinement that follows traction.

It has been a full year since Nokia unveiled AVA, a cognitive platform focused on revolutionizing service delivery via automation, virtualization and analytics (AVA!). At the time, Nokia announced it would adapt the platform to the delivery of care services, network implementation, network performance optimization and managed services. As could be expected, the integration of the platform experienced something of a ramp-up period; Nokia has devoted much of the last year to building services and gaining mindshare around the concept of ‘extreme automation,’ cementing its status as the most vocal vendor in this space. Services launches since, including predictive optimization, predictive repair and the introduction of a digital assistant, MIKA, have all incorporated AVA to some extent. The launches confirm the vendor’s commitment to the AVA platform as a differentiator in service delivery efficiency and make clear that a continuously improving AVA platform will underpin Nokia’s entire services organization. Read more of this post

Affirmed Sends a Signal: The Enterprise Will Feature Prominently in MWC17 Messaging (Hopefully Alongside Partners)

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • In an effort to expand beyond their traditional customer bases, service providers and the vendors selling into them have talked up the opportunity presented by diverse digital industries (vertical markets).
  • In announcing an upgrade to its virtualized IoT platform, Affirmed acknowledged the trend by partnering with Tech Mahindra in order to tap its “enterprise domain expertise.” Other vendors (and carriers) will doubtless follow suit at Mobile World Congress. To do the messaging right, they’ll need to involve partners.

Earlier this week, Affirmed Networks announced an upgrade to its IoT platform offer, including support for NB-IoT. Perhaps more importantly, the announcement called out work with Tech Mahindra to tap its enterprise domain expertise in supporting IoT rollouts.

Why would this be ‘more important’? Beyond consumer use cases, IoT is inherently about supporting specific enterprise applications – applications requiring intimate domain expertise. But, this is about more than just IoT. In an effort to expand their addressable markets, telecom vendors and carriers have been talking up their plans to target the enterprise. This messaging has been so loud and consistent that we’ve called it out as something we hope to concrete examples of at Mobile World Congress this year [see page 6]. And, to some extent, we’ve seen lots of enterprise-focused announcements within a telco context in the run-up to MWC. 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

2G Shutdowns, Multivendor NFV: The Glacial Pace of Telecom Change vs. Future Aspirations

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Last week, AT&T highlighted how it had shut down its 2G network on January 1st. On the same day, Ericsson announced it had worked with Cisco to address Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s SDN and NFV needs.
  • While not formally linked, both events showcase how slowly telecom service providers change the way they think about and run their networks – with implications for IoT and 5G plans.

Last Monday was a holiday in the U.S. The good folks at AT&T, Cisco and Ericsson, however, weren’t taking it easy. They had news to announce.

AT&T – with a blog post from Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan – started off the week by talking up the shutdown of its 2G network at the start of the year, positioning it as a part of their 5G network evolution. Ericsson and Cisco had their own milestone: following the signature of a “global business and technology partnership” back in November 2015, the two network infrastructure heavyweights were eager to announce a joint win at Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), supplying SDN and NFV solutions including data center assets, SDN controllers, service and network orchestration products, and VNFs. While the two had already won other joint deals, the win at VHA was heralded as “the first major collaboration between Ericsson and Cisco on Telecom Cloud infrastructure.” Read more of this post

RAN Vendors Targeting Enterprises Aren’t Waiting for 5G

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The lull between 4G and 5G operator spending motivates RAN vendors to penetrate enterprises before 5G, aided by new RAN technologies relevant to enterprises.
  • In penetrating enterprises, even RAN vendors with enterprise businesses face challenging organizational changes and market hurdles.

When RAN vendors talk about 5G, much of the discussion tends to involve targeting enterprise verticals and the Internet of Things (IoT). Take Ericsson, for example, demonstrating unmanned construction vehicles and remote surgery concepts. But, like many elements of their 5G discussions, RAN vendors aren’t waiting for 5G to target enterprises. Read more of this post