I might not be able to see, touch or smell it yet, but I get the very real sense that "virtualization" might just be one of the most used (and misused) words at Mobile World Congress 2013.
It might also be very hard to say once the Barcelona evenings are in full swing.
But it's a very real topic: The recent formation of the network functions virtualization (NFV) Industry Specifications Group by a collective, including some of the world's biggest and most influential operators, means the mobile networking community can't afford to ignore the topic, whatever they think of it. (See Carriers Peer Into Virtual World.)
It's growing importance was highlighted Thursday by the announcement from Telefónica SA that it is collaborating with NEC Corp. on network virtualization developments "based on SDN (Software-Defined Networking) and NFV" with a focus on the virtualization of "current IP edge network elements." (See NEC, Telefónica Team on SDN.)
There are plenty of other companies ready to shout about this topic in Barcelona. Also today, Juniper Networks Inc. announced it'll be showing off an updated version of its MobileNext evolved packet core (EPC) for 4G networks that includes a virtual instance of its control plane appliance. (See Juniper Puts a Virtual Spin on MobileNext.)
Sticking with the packet core, Connectem Inc. has been touting the idea of a virtual EPC for 4G networks for some time and has had its technology put through its paces by SingTel Optus Pty. Ltd. in Australia. (See Ex-Stoke Startup Aims to Shake Up 4G Core and XIUS, Connectem Form Partnership.)
Mavenir Systems Inc., meanwhile, will be showing off virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) solutions for the deployment of services such as 4G voice (also known as voice over LTE/VoLTE) and RCS (Rich Communication Services) version 5.0 applications. (See Mavenir Offers Virtual Mobile Core.)
All the big mobile network equipment vendors will be trying to own the subject too -- Ericsson AB and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. have both been talking about the topic ahead of the Barcelona jamboree. (See Huawei Unfolds SDN Roadmap and Ericsson Claims SDN Advantage.)
The Light Reading team will be trying to get to grips with what's really happening around the virtualization concept while we're at MWC, so don't hesitate to let us know if you've got something to contribute to the topic.
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading