Cloudy Enterprises, Virtual Routing Profits, OSS Orchestras, and the Road NFV Travelled, with a GEN14 Round-Up!

Weekly Round-Up: 11/10/2014 – 11/16/2014

Folks,

Asad Naveed, GM-PTCL and a senior member of our Carrier Ethernet Group with MEF President Nan Chen at MEF’s GEN14. Do note Nan’s signature sunglasses!

Excited to bring you another Weekly Round-Up after an absolutely smashing week on the Group; a week that saw 16 high-quality discussions, over 30 comments from 11 contributing members, and over 15 likes from members and non-members alike (some of whom subsequently became members :-) )!

[Clearly, if you’re not on our Carrier Ethernet Group “network”, you can’t benefit from the interesting discourse :-) . Thus, a good reason to participate, and point out to colleagues/peers the value of being on this forum – FYI, you can easily invite colleagues to the Group by sending them the following pointer http://linkd.in/L645fy.]

Thank you Marc Lippe, Ryan Yaeger, Ray Le Maistre, Craig Matsumoto, Brian Hedstrom, Jules Pedersen, Nir Cohen, and Asad Naveed for your posts on diverse topics (more on these ahead)! Thanks also to Luc-Yves Pagal Vinette, Asad Naveed, Amuthen Selvarajoo, Chandra Mallela, among others, for your insightful and thoughtful comments.

I’m also excited to let you know that to help those who, like me, are auditory learners :-) , an mp3 audio capsule of this Weekly Round-Up is now available at http://bit.ly/1yw6p6M, so you can download and take this on the go, and be updated on the exciting goings-on in our Group, and contribute more easily.

MP3 Audio Capsule of the Weekly Round-Up is at: http://bit.ly/1yw6p6M  (Right click the link and choose “Save File As” to download and save the mp3 file. Then enjoy on your favorite player!)

1.MEF GEN14: Crystallizing the Future of Networking 

Carrier Ethernet Group members Asad Naveed (GM, PTCL, second from left), and Anuradha Udunuwara (Engineer, Sri Lanka Telecom, extreme right), with MEF officials, Kevin Vachon (COO, extreme left), and Daniel Bar-Lev (Director of Certification and Strategic Programs, second from right) at MEF’s GEN 14.

Even though this Round-Up is for the week of Nov. 10th, no post this month would be complete without mentioning the Carrier Ethernet event of 2014, MEF’s  GEN 14 in Washington, D.C., Nov. 17-20. For a GEN14 summary, you’re referred to the excellent post by Asad Naveed http://bit.ly/1y7FX5A, and to Anuradha Udunuwara’s blog http://bit.ly/1FJ8PlD.

Did you or your colleagues attend MEF’s GEN14? If so, what were your experiences like? What were your key takeaways from the event? What should we be looking out for in 2015? Please do share your views in the comments, or on the Group!

 2. DevOps in the Telco

Unifying ServiceOps and DevOps

Tom Nolle made the insightful observation that operators’ challenge comes from the changes in their business and not the technology http://bit.ly/1sLnCn1. In fact, the need operational changes are driven by the need to improve revenue and control costs. Given that the most useful new services are those that move the industry to short time interval commitments, this requires a move from human interfaces to automated processes (which must be conceptualized as workflows).

… while Virtualizing Network Functions …  

In the same vein, Stuart Corner’s post from Down Under that I referred to http://bit.ly/11mRyQB  talks of Vodafone Australia’s plans to virtualize their mobile core network in the next 5 years with Ericsson’s help, where 15-25 mobile core components (e.g. those supporting SMS, MMS, HLRs, and voice mail) will be virtualized. Telstra and Signtel Optus have similar plans, in keeping with the sentiment that mobile operators can benefit from NFV.

Virtualization provides 3 benefits to such operators – it enables operators to: leverage economies of scale, meet demand peaks dynamically (which they cannot do today), and flexibly locate functions in different parts of their network (e.g. shifting them from old to modern datacenters).

A third industry whitepaper on NFV http://portal.etsi.org/NFV/NFV_White_Paper3.pdf , by 30 telcos, focuses on the need for interoperability of key interfaces identified by the NFV architecture to ensure an open ecosystem.

What is your view? Is it technology or is it business transformation that is the driving force here? What should telcos be focusing on? Do share your views here http://bit.ly/1sLnCn1 or http://bit.ly/11mRyQB!

3.An Orchestra of OSS and Back-Office Operations! 

OSS is Sexy! …

According to Ray Le Maistre of Light Reading OSS is sexy again! Marc Lippe http://bit.ly/1CnD1od  posted on the sentiment that the operator’s OSS must, first and foremost, be compatible with the transition to SDN/NFV – a theme that will recur in our discussions of this subject.

… But the Marriage of Network and IT Ops May Still Have Hiccups! …

Chris Cullan of Infovista observed http://bit.ly/1CnD1od that with the onset of virtualization, OSS boundaries are becoming harder to identify, and with network technologies increasingly relying on an IT stack, a CSPs (communication service provider’s) network and IT operations teams must increasingly work together. Even so, aligning a CSP’s operations with SDN and NFV will not happen instantaneously or without pain!

In fact, the questions to ask in this regard are (see the excellent post by Chris Cullan for details  http://bit.ly/1CnD1od ): What is required of the OSS to support a dynamic and virtualized network service infrastructure based on NFV? and, “What is required of the OSS to increase network configuration automation in new networks while managing legacy technology in others; knowing that the transition will last 5-10 years?

Are you a CSP engaged in making this transition or a vendor/integrator involved in/helping a customer with such a transition? Or, contemplating this transition? If so, what are some of the challenges you are facing? Do you agree with what Marc and Chris are postulating? If yes, why? If not, why not?

… But There’s Hope with BT’s “Third Way”! …

By the same token, BT’s Chris Bilton, Director of Research and Technology in an interview with Ray Le Maistre http://bit.ly/1CnD1od, observed that the “third way” is to take the best of network operations and management approaches and blend them with the best of IT operations and management approaches, which is possible for operators that have both networking and data center infrastructure and thus both network and IT expertise. Even so, blending them to a coherent whole is not an easy task!

… And Colt’s Early Experiences …

Meanwhile, Ray Le Maistre posted interview with Colt’s Simon Farrell  http://bit.ly/1xmO123 where Simon outlined that Colt has been a pioneer in implementing SDN in the data center and the WAN (since before the term was coined), and is not bringing it into the core.

They are taking their learnings from having implemented their modular MSP platform and their data center innovations, and applying them to NFV. The evolution of their OSS will involve: adapting to open source, creating new API’s, and rethinking some of it’s architecture and principles to decide where different functionality sits in the OSS.

In fact, their SDN deployment has taught them that they must de-centralize and push functionality towards the network edge, and attempt to virtualize parts of the OSS to keep it vendor-neutral.

Who else do you think is an industry pioneer in taking a stab at SDN and NFV? What have their experiences been? How do their experiences mirror, or differ from, those of BT? Those of Colt? Do share your views here http://bit.ly/1CnD1od or http://bit.ly/1xmO123!

4. Who Defines the Road to NFV?

The Old Order Changeth? ….

Tom Nolle asked who among the leading vendors Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, HP and the like really defines networking today http://bit.ly/1zCt1BU, and, I might add, by extension, who defines the road to NFV (and SDN)? (‘cause these define networking today!)

He observed that although SDN promises to lower costs in networking, it still requires a new conception of IP services – one that brings about new benefits of networking. The incumbent vendors, like Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent and the like, however, aren’t developing a new value proposition for networking, but rather finding a way to insert their own version of SDN into the industry dialog, or, simply positing that SDN and NFV are trends that will be confined to the edge of the network, thus arguing that the dominance of the big, bad, ASIC-based, specialized core router space will continue for some time to come.

However, for SDN and NFV to truly add value, Tom’s view is that they must extend across both the carrier infrastructure and the enterprise IT infrastructure in both public and private networks, and must break down, rather than reinforce, service silos. This provides an opportunity for players like HP that have traditionally not been in the telco space to jump in with their partnerships with Windriver and Intel.

… Giving Way to New? …

Ryan Yaegers post http://bit.ly/1xUlei8, part of a series prior to the SDN and NFV: Next-Generation Solutions for Network Management conference, contributed by Chris Fleming of RAD alludes to the notion that effective service chaining of VNFs (virtual network functions) to create new services for the customer should require limited-touch provisioning, which would reduce OPEX and shorten time-to-revenue for the operator. One way for operator’s to do this (even as the industry works to resolve open challenges in OSS/BSS, management, standards) is to virtualize only a small subset of their functions, especially those needed at the network edge (security/authentication and filtering, for instance). These can be realized as VNFs that can be configured via limited provisioning, thus leading to the notion of virtualized CPEs realized via Distributed-NFV.

… And, Can Routing Companies Change Their FIBs …

Tom’s sentiments were reinforced by Scott Raynovich when he also underscored that traditional routing vendors must rethink routing itself! http://bit.ly/1yjDeDI

What is your view? Do you agree with Tom and Scott’s assessment? Are the big routing companies’ days numbered? Will the space be overtaken by vendors who are not network vendors like the HPs of the world? Check out Tom’s post here http://bit.ly/1zCt1BU and Scott’s post here http://bit.ly/1yjDeDI, and do weigh in!

5. Virtual Routing for Real Profits?

Virtual Router Races …

We’ve heard much about virtualized routers lately (consult the last Weekly Update here http://bit.ly/129gr1S), and along that line of thought come two posts this week.

The first from Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, of Light Reading, http://bit.ly/1Fzg3J0 pointing out that Alcatel-Lucent announced it’s VSR (Virtualized Service Router) capable of 320 Gb/s (full duplex, Cisco accounting), in a single x86 server, which is a virtualized version of its flagship SR device. The VSR allows for up to 6 x86 servers working as a single router, with each server acting as a linecard, and claims to provide 2x the throughput of the corresponding virtualized Juniper device (the ERX), and 8x the control plane performance of either Juniper or Cisco. This is, however, still being pitched to network operators for the IP edge and customer premises, and for incremental expansion. ALU, however, believes that this will be a 5-10 year transition, and that core and aggregation routers will not become part of NVF.

… Do Not Real Profits Make! …

Clearly, the industry does not agree. As both Tom Nolle (see http://bit.ly/1zCt1BU), and Scott Raynovich (see http://bit.ly/1yjDeDI), hold quite a different view Scott posits that hardware equipment vendors are in denial, and having to make price concessions because of the profusion of the white-box model! This is under-cutting profits, and so an alternative approach focused on software innovation is one need of the hour.

6. The Cloud Removing the Haze for Enterprises?

Cloud Data Center traffic to triple by 2018, and grow at over 40% CAGR …

Jules Pedersen pointed out http://bit.ly/1zKqqG2 that per Cisco’s 4th Global Cloud Index, over the next 4 years data center traffic will triple and account for over 75% of data center traffic. The public cloud will be a $191 Billion market by 2020, with a CAGR of over 50%, while hybrid cloud will grow at a CAGR of 40% and the private cloud at a CAGR of a healthy 45% over the same period, as per Synergy Research.

… Requiring CSP’s to Scale Back-Office Operations …

What all of this means is that CSP’s will face a brunt of changes, with their network, products, service definitions and business operations all evolving and driven by 3 trends: the move from hardware-centric to software-centric networks, the increasing complexity of their back-office (network management and operations), and the need for software innovation based on open interfaces, as noted by Brian Hedstrom in his excellent post here http://bit.ly/1CnD1od).

Brian observed that to scale operations, their back-office and network management methods have to change.  Indeed, CSP’s need vendors to open up interfaces and share common data models across systems. This is the key to revolutionizing back-office OSS’s and to embracing SDN and NFV. Indeed, Brian contends that if back-office transformation does not occur, the migration to SDN and NFV cannot effectively occur, due to the software and programmable nature of SDN/NFV. This is a theme we’ve heard from several quarters, even though, IMHO, it is still largely dampened by the SDN/NFV euphoria.

So, unless the CSP back-office is adequately transformed to usher in SDN and NFV, the cloud picture for enterprises may remain a bit hazy :-) .

What about you? Do you agree with Brian? Why? or Why not? How important is back-office transformation and modernization of OSS’s to the adoption of SDN and NFV in CSP networks? Share your thoughts here http://bit.ly/1CnD1od!

7. Industry Goings-On: An ALU Comeback and a Distributed RAD

Alcatel-Lucent was much in the news this particular week. First with Ray Le Maistre http://bit.ly/1vU7GXe  reporting from their Technology Symposium that ALU has gone from near bankruptcy about a year and half ago, to a turnaround in 4 key ways: first, customers are now talking of what they want to do with Alcatel-Lucent; second, they have refocused from traditional telecom systems to applications and are talking of cloud enablement, SDN, NFV and data center networking; third, they have engaged in intense relationships with the components companies developing the foundations of next-generation networking http://bit.ly/129cVEx;  fourth, they have worked hard to improve relationships between different parts of the organization. [ Ray noted that some key ALU partnerships are with Qualcomm for next-gen multi-mode small cells, Intel for carrier-grade servers to support NFV implementations and high-speed packet processing, and with Freescale to virtualize L2 and L3 functions for fixed- and wireless-networks.]

Indeed, this is evident from what Craig Matsumoto of SDN Central reported here http://bit.ly/1AYodLb, where he noted that CEO Combes on a visit to Silicon Valley noted that the Timetra philosophy must now permeate and infuse the entire company because with the proliferation of IP, Timetra (and it’s product line – the flagship SR series of routers) migrates to the heard of Alcatel-Lucent’s customers’ networks.

Finally, Nir Cohen brought our attention to the vCPE demonstration that RAD, Fortinet, Cyan, et al are doing at the MEF’s GEN14 event http://bit.ly/1tP19po. I’ve requested Yuri Gittik and Eitan Schwartz of RAD to share some takeaways from their respective panels with the Group, and hope they’ll oblige.

Do you have a view on the ALU turnaround or RAD’s distributed-NFV initiatives? Do share them http://bit.ly/1vU7GXe and http://bit.ly/1tP19po, respectively!

Welcome your views on all of these, and do take the time to contribute to and learn from those topics that align with what you are working on or interested in at present. Also, for the auditory learners among you (and I am one myself, listening to a few hours of technical content each week!), I’ve made this update available as an mp3 podcast, downloadable from the link below – so happy listening!

Would love your feedback on how you like the new formats, and what else we can do to make this more valuable for you. Until next time, may be bits in your byte and the bytes in your packets be profitable!

Best,

Vishal