Home North AmericaNorth America II 2014 NFV hits the mobile express track

NFV hits the mobile express track

by Administrator
Pardeep Kohli Issue: North America II 2014
Article no.: 14
Topic: NFV hits the mobile express track
Author: Pardeep Kohli
Title: President & CEO
Organisation: Mavenir
PDF size: 500KB

About author

Pardeep Kohli, President and CEO, Mavenir, is a Wireless Industry Veteran with 18 years of experience. As co-founder, President & CEO, Pardeep led Spatial Wireless, the Mobile Next Generation Networking market leader, to broad success across the US market. Following the acquisition by Alcatel, as Senior Vice President of the Mobile NGN business, he led the continued expansion and success of the Spatial Wireless product across the global market place. Pardeep has worked in multiple roles at NEC America, DSC, Alcatel and PacBell. While at PacBell, Pardeep participated in the technology selection and network implementation of the first large US GSM network

The world of mobile loves its three letter acronyms, and this year’s buzzwords are NFV and SDN. Pardeep Kohli, President and CEO of Mavenir Systems, maps out the way forward for mobile operators, explaining why Network Functions Virtualization or NFV, is leading the way.

Article abstract

NFV will play the critical role in mobile network transformation. Yesterday’s 2G and 3G networks, and therefore the supporting vendor industry, are hardware-based. Today’s next generation 4G LTE networks will be software-led and driven. NFV will see many of the functions of the network moved to the Telco cloud, where the intelligence, power and value is in software, and scale is achieved using general purpose hardware.

In an NFV world, operators do not have to wait for their current hardware vendor to be ready with a software based solution – they can deploy network functions on software from any vendor on industry standards servers. NFV is a true Software as a Service (SaaS), solution that gives operators the chance to act immediately and not wait for their current hardware vendor of choice to be ready.

Full Article

Every now and then, something comes along that has the capacity to rewrite the rules and change the landscape completely – and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) – fits into that category.

Little more than a year ago, both NFV and Software Defined Networks (SDN), were generating hype and garnering attention from mobile operators globally. Each technology seemed to hold tremendous promise to fundamentally change how mobile operator networks would transform to 4G LTE.

While NFV and SDN are complementary and will be linked as key technologies underpinning mobile network transformation, it’s becoming clear that operators are much further along with NFV strategy creation and implementation than they are with SDN. In fact, in some ways, it also seems as if NFV now becomes the trailblazer for SDN. Why? One of the key benefits of NFV is that it allows operators much greater flexibility in terms of network management and deployment of new, software-led services. This flexibility encompasses service agility and elasticity, software-led OPEX savings and reduced hardware CAPEX. The applicability of NFV is broad, with a wide range of candidate functions for virtualization, including IMS applications and core functions, evolved packet core, policy control, security, and many more.

A second reason behind the advance of NFV is that virtualization is a mature and proven technology. It is well established in the IT industry where it has been used to optimally utilize general purpose computing hardware and dramatically lower the cost structure of building and maintaining data centres. However, up until relatively recently, virtualization had not had a major impact on the telecoms world. That is now rapidly changing, and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s NFV initiative has galvanized the telecoms and mobile industry, focusing operators and vendors alike to leverage virtualization in order to build the next generation core network.

It seems clear that NFV will now play the critical role in mobile network transformation. Yesterday’s 2G and 3G networks, and therefore the supporting vendor industry, are hardware-based. Today’s next generation 4G LTE networks will be software-led and driven. NFV will see many of the functions of the network moved to the Telco cloud, where the intelligence, power and value is in software, and scale is achieved using general purpose hardware.

This radical change in next generation networks structure opens the door to new entrants with the right technology and approach while placing at risk those traditional vendors supplying integrated software on purpose-built hardware. NFV effectively severs the link between a mobile operator’s services and its vendor hardware – giving operators the ability to break-out from a single supplier delivering hardware-based network equipment and services and realize the cost-savings of a multi-vendor environment.

Some hardware centric vendors would like operators to wait until they have developed specific software solutions to run on their own proprietary hardware platforms. This misses the point of the virtualization transformation and has helped feed the misperception in the industry that NFV is hindered by a lack of vendor readiness and technology maturity. This is simply not true.

In an NFV world, operators do not have to wait for their current hardware vendor to be ready with a software based solution – they can deploy network functions on software from any vendor on industry standards servers. NFV is a true Software as a Service (SaaS), solution that gives operators the chance to act immediately and not wait for their current hardware vendor of choice to be ready.

Some vendors, anticipated this trend and developed software-based convergence platforms that could be deployed in virtualized data centres. Indeed, Mavenir’s entire portfolio of IMS application and core network solutions are already fully virtualized and have been carrying live commercial traffic since March 2013.

Such convergence platforms are the key to operator implementations of new services, such as VoLTE, RCS and VoWi-Fi, and can underpin the early adoption of NFV by combining the virtualization know-how of the IT environment with the wireless market understanding of a traditional telecoms vendor.

NFV can dramatically reduce network complexity and cost while making it easier to build capacity and add flexibility to a network. A fault in an NFV environment can be more easily by-passed – traffic switched to another blade or server – than is the case in the physical hardware world. This private cloud, mobile network of the future, is a challenging but highly rewarding vision for the operator community – and it is one they are beginning to embrace. This is driven by the fact that the flexibility that sits at the heart of an NFV environment comes with multiple business benefits for operators – as a platform NFV can not only reduce CAPEX costs, it can cut operational expenditure and time to market in terms of new service delivery.

For example, an operator no longer requires separate systems to run the back office. During quiet network traffic periods (overnight being the obvious example), the spare capacity on the network systems could be used to run back office functions, such as billing. But as well as potentially making it easier to operate, manage and maintain the network from both a front and a back office perspective with this elasticity, NFV makes it far easier to roll out new services across the network.

Imagine – service enhancements on an international network can be accomplished through a software download measured in minutes, rather than a hardware reconfiguration measured in multiple man-days.

Leading operators, such as AT&T in the USA, have talked about the network ‘Domain 2.0’ – an engineering-led procurement process that will see AT&T invest upwards of US$14bn across its network during the next three years. And while NFV and SDN are complementary technologies that comprise the cloud-based infrastructure that is at the heart of that investment, the NFV element lends itself to be deployed piece-by-piece, whereas SDN will require a re-architecture of the entire IP transport network – another reason why NFV adoption is gathering pace far more quickly than SDN.

But although industry focus and adoption has galvanized around NFV, it seems certain that SDN will also become a key part of the equation and that NFV will have to help change the landscape sufficiently to smooth its introduction. As operators struggle to cope with burgeoning data center scale, SDN provides a means to more efficiently expand network capacity while reducing maintenance complexity. SDN is relatively new, but revolutionary, and will change the industry dynamic in network planning terms. It will re-architect the mobile network by separating control and data planes and providing greater scale and even more flexibility, as both NFV and SDN become mainstream.

Clearly the future looks promising. NFV is here today and savvy operators are already realizing the benefits by reducing the cost and complexity of the network, and increasing the flexibility of their operations. For operators, what’s not to love?

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