Light Reading

Alcatel-Lucent CTO States the Case for NFV

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The industry needs hardware virtualization, and while network functions virtualization (NFV) might not be the answer, it's a good start, Alcatel-Lucent's CTO said here yesterday.

Marcus Weldon was speaking as part of the launch of Nuage Networks, the AlcaLu spin-in focusing on software-defined networking (SDN). (See Alcatel-Lucent Spins Up Its SDN.)

The answer is certainly not ATCA, which is "the last attempt of the industry to standardize and has largely failed," Weldon said.

What's wrong with ATCA is that it's a box mentality, Weldon said. A particular function is scaled up by adding the exact card for that function, and when you run out of room in the box, you've got to install and configure another box.

What NFV promises is freedom from boxes, in a sense. You'd still need equipment, but a function could grow by being activated in as many instances as necessary. "That's the problem. We're running at box scaling rules and we have to get to Web scale," Weldon said.

NFV isn't necessarily going to save the world. In fact, Weldon took a couple of jabs at the group: "They're not going to standardize anything; they're just going to point to standards," he said. "They're united, but they're not sure what they're united around'

Fair enough. The NFV has only met a couple of times, just long enough to establish that they exist and determine how well the members get along. The group's next meeting is in three weeks in Santa Clara, at Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s site, which added a touch of timeliness to Weldon's talk.

Virtualization is important because it's happening on the data-center side, and telecom, for now, can't possibly keep up, Weldon said.

He gave the example of WebRTC, open-source software that allows for real-time communications on the Web. Apps using WebRTC could scale up rapidly at peak times -- if everybody ran to grab a particular Web video promoted in a Super Bowl ad, for instance -- but on the telecom side, IMS wouldn't be able to respond in kind. IMS is still bound by telecom systems that can't be expanded so quickly.

NFV sometimes gets described as an attempt to bring cheaper hardware into telecom. But the real benefits are in scaling, not penny-pinching, Weldon said. By escaping that box paradigm and working on a virtualized basis, operators would be able to deploy functions more quickly, and scale them up and down at will, he added.

Of course, cost matters, too. NFV could result in some telecom equipment moving to virtual form running on general-purpose processors. But it wouldn't happen to everything, Weldon argued.

Anything coming in contact with the physical layer is probably not do-able on a general-purpose processor -- that would include coherent optics, the radio access network and DSL, Weldon said. He also argued that core routers won't virtualize, as the number of processors needed to replace a core-router ASIC would be just ridiculous.

Virtualization comes with risk, as Weldon mentioned repeatedly during his talk. Server virtualization is based on the assumption that server failures are no big deal; that's fingernails on a chalkboard to the telco five-nines mentality. Changes to OSSs might be required as well.

Then there's the telecom culture, Weldon said. Network operators would have to work hand-in-hand with IT, "and that's not a comfortable conversation or an easy one."

For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/3/2013 | 5:13:27 PM
re: Alcatel-Lucent CTO States the Case for NFV
Cultural resistance could be a substantial barrier to things like NFV and SDN. That might end up being the big story in carrier SDN, a year or two from now.-á
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.