& cplSiteName &

Virtual Uncertainty Over Business Processes

Carol Wilson
1/17/2017
50%
50%

Telecom hardware and software vendors are well aware of what their network operator customers want as virtualization takes hold. But many of them are telling me the industry in general needs to sort out some critical issues around core business processes before everyone can move forward.

Issues around how open source software is consumed, the need for better software licensing processes and balancing the resistance to vendor lock-in with the need for vendor support are all common knowledge at this point. Many of the vendors with whom I speak point to a broad uncertainty as to the best way to address these challenges and concern that it can't be on a one-off basis.

For example, as Kevin Woods, director of product management at Brocade, told me way back in September, the industry needs to be looking at new business processes around open source distribution and issues such as intellectual property rights.

"There's the simple notion that the vendor will stand behind the distribution and be open source, but there is a whole second tier around business models and where the value is, and what role the intellectual property plays and who owns derivative works," Woods said. "I think the industry has to sort that out yet. We are making progress as individuals but I would like to see the industry talk about this more."

An adjacent issue is keeping both vendors and operators disciplined around how open source is used. "There is a great temptation to corrupt the code," Woods commented. "You just tweak something because your customer is asking for it, and customer satisfaction is important."

The problem comes when that "tweaking" isn't fed upstream into the open source group to become part of the ongoing effort. As Santiago Rodriguez, vice president of engineering and head of the Product Development Unit SDN & Policy Control at Ericsson explained, also last September, the resulting "forking" of the open source causes great pain when it comes time for the next open source version to be released because compatibility is lost. It's why Ericsson moved from having its own version of OpenDaylight to an "upstream first" mentality fairly quickly, he said.


Want to know more about the companies, people and organizations driving developments in the virtualization sector? Check out Virtuapedia, the most comprehensive online resource covering the virtualization industry.


But having discipline around those kinds of "tweaks" is a responsibility vendors and operators share, Woods notes. If operators shop around for the vendor willing to tweak the open source code to their advantage or even just buy one vendor's version of open source, they undermine the process entirely.

Another major issue for operators was the notion of software licensing and how to control what is becoming an unwieldy process of managing licenses, particularly as applications scale. Operators are looking for a more efficient and yes, likely cheaper, way to handle this. At minimum, they want to insure they aren't just swapping out hardware costs for software costs.

The problem, according to three industry veterans, is that it's not clear what will substitute for today's processes.

Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of solutions of the Telco NFV Group at VMware Inc., has heard from his network operator customers on this issue, and says his company is trying to respond to customer demand for relief from licensing each instance of software as it is spun up.

"We have seen requests for alternative software licensing processes, but in many cases, the operators are not ready to purchase software licenses in other ways -- based on capacity or a subscription model," he says. "We are very open to other procurement models."

ADVA Optical Networking's Ensemble unit has run into the same challenge, says its CTO, Prayson Pate, and Michael Heffner, its vice president of product line management.

"Suppliers are going to have to change based on what operators are looking for and the thing we see them looking for is flexibility," Pate says. That includes flexibility in the way the software is delivered and how it is priced.

"We were at a meeting with a current customer and they didn't know how they wanted to take delivery of our hardware and software," he says. The variables included how to handle integration of that ADVA's software with white box servers and other third-party virtual network functions, Pate notes, and how VNFs would be delivered. "The final piece is that they wanted to eliminate some of the complexity in licensing, and create a licensing process based on when VNFs are populated."

Sorting out how to do that is also challenging, says Heffner, as there are multiple options, including perpetual licenses, which can be treated as capex, and usage-based variable licensing that can be treated as opex. There are different subscription models, depending on the software involved, and there is also the price of ongoing support and maintenance, which comes on top of even a perpetual model, but can be billed separately or bundled into a monthly price.

Vendors want to meet customer needs in the simplest way possible, say both Pate and Heffner, because it makes no sense to create barriers to buying their products. At this stage of the game, however, it isn't always clear to the operator which approach is going to be better in the long run.

Heffner says uncertainty around the best approach to licensing, pricing and other business process issues is slowing down virtualization deployments.

"Most of our conversations with customers are not around how does our stuff work, it's around how to operationalize this at scale across 100,000 nodes," he says. "Licensing falls into that same domain – it's the next bit of muck everybody is stuck in."

Ciena's Kevin Sheehan, vice president of global solutions for its Blue Planet platform, thinks most of the confusion around software pricing and licensing can be solved with a menu of options from vendors, including both perpetual and subscription choices, but admits there is still some uncertainty on the operator side as to which is better.

"They have a bias as to what they think is best," he tells Light Reading in an interview. Most often that bias is against subscription models, since they impact opex. "I have seen a number of service providers change their minds once they fully understood the model and they got closer to their actual business case and to what they were turning up. They start out steadfast in the perpetual approach, then switch 180% into a usage-based model."

So one of the issues for 2017 for operators may well be conquering these business case questions to speed up their virtualization transformations.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


CALLING ALL CLOUD, NFV AND SDN COMPANIES:
Make sure your company and services are listed free of charge at Virtuapedia, the comprehensive set of searchable databases covering the companies, products, industry organizations and people that are directly involved in defining and shaping the virtualization industry.


(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
bgraham
50%
50%
bgraham,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/18/2017 | 3:47:18 AM
There is some progress
TM Forum has been doing a lot of work in this area. AT&T, China Mobile, Orange, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone together are sponsoring an ongoing Catalyst proof-of-concept project called Enabling Digital Marketplaces, which is working to automate the entire lifecycle of virtual functions. The most recent phase of the project used TM Forum Frameworx and TOSCA standards along with ETSI NFV concepts to develop a common metamodel.

The end goal is to create an efficient marketplace – essentially a Network App Store – to automatically onboard independently sourced virtual functions and then use them to automatically provision, license, manage, assure and bill for services end to end across partners' networks. This requires not only a metamodel but also metadata-driven metrics to automate assessment of each step of the cycle. The Forum's ZOOM team is working on the metrics framework with other SDOs and open-source groups including ETSI, NIST, QuEST and OpNFV. The next phase of the Marketplace Catalyst will help with this work.
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/17/2017 | 4:04:55 PM
Re: Certainly
That may be a big part of the problem with virtualization -- the idea that this would be some sort of DIY project that ultimately would disintermediate vendors, or at least greatly reduce their role. The underlying concepts for virtualization are more than sound, but the ways they've been applied and the short-term expectations have been questionable.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
1/17/2017 | 3:43:42 PM
Re: Certainly
I think that is still the case, although you can definitely see heavy lifting going on within some operators as well. The challenge is how to compensate for that heavy lifting in new ways, especially since network operators still are trying to figure out how to deliver more bandwidth at lower cost and offer services faster in this process. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/17/2017 | 2:25:22 PM
Certainly
This almost makes it sound like the wheel didn't need to be reinvented after all. Or, at least, that there is a real need for technology partners (a.k.a. vendors) to do the heavy lifting.
More Blogs from Rewired
SD-WAN market set to surge but it's not replacing MPLS anytime soon, and there will be security and operational challenges ahead, according to a 451 Research survey.
Lowell McAdam says cable merger no longer seems likely but is still open to other ideas – like a Comcast merger.
Harmonization, minding the product gap, getting 5G right, mimicking Red Hat and praising the Linux Foundation's expanded role all make the list.
Open Networking Summit presentation makes clear that AT&T's journey to differentiated services is one most operators will need to take.
The Senate's vote to cut privacy rules for ISPs just means there's no longer confusion on Internet privacy protection because there isn't any.
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX at ANGA COM

6|27|17   |     |   (0) comments


At ANGA COM 2017, Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX, updates Alan Breznick with VeEX's new products and technology. This includes VeSion cloud-based platform for network monitoring, AT2500-3G advanced spectrum analyzer and MTTplus-900 WiFi Air Expert module. He also comments on DOCSIS 3.1 deployment and Remote PHY technology.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.