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Nothing Is Sacred, DT's Clauberg Tells BTE

Ray Le Maistre

CHICAGO -- Light Reading's Big Telecom Event -- As telcos transform their networks with SDN and NFV in the coming years, pretty much every technology and protocol currently deployed in communications networks needs to be assessed and, if it makes sense, banished from the network in the name of simplification.

That's the view of Axel Clauberg, VP of Transport, Aggregation and IP & Fixed Access in the CTO Team at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT). Giving a keynote presentation on his favorite topic, "the Software Defined Operator," he told the audience that to survive, operators need to strip as much complexity out of their networks as possible, and that means retiring certain technologies that underpin current services. (See Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator.)

"ATM and SDH will go, but there should be no protected areas. Will we still need MPLS?" he asked, making the hearts of the some of the vendors in the audience pause for just a moment. "I was guilty of pushing MPLS into the market when I was at Cisco, but now, many years later, we can think about taking it out -- it's possible to build networks more efficiently without it."

Network operators need to think about simplifying their networks as much as possible -- taking OTN out of the transport layer should be another consideration, and eradicating IPv4 from the core.

But is this just fancy talk? Well, Clauberg was described by Heavy Reading Chief Analyst Graham Finnie here this morning as the man who is "walking the walk as well as talking the talk" when it comes to SDN and NFV, as he has been building these technologies into the Deutsche Telekom TeraStream pilot networks in multiple European countries during the past few years.

In addition, DT is moving fast towards a full migration to all-IP networks across all its territories: Clauberg said that by 2018 the PSTN will be retired across Deutsche Telekom and "the only language will be IP. We already retired the PSTN in Macedonia at the end of 2013," he noted.

Such moves will take some complexity out of the Tier 1 giant's networks, but it's going to be a constant challenge to head in the right direction, especially if the vendor community doesn't play ball. Many vendors talk about embracing openness and virtualization, even as they develop virtualized network elements that don't work in an Openstack environment and proprietary management and orchestration systems.

"We are seeing a zoo of orchestrators," said Clauberg, one that would create new silos, and that's exactly what the telcos don't want. "That would be miserable. We have to avoid vendor lock-in. Virtualized chaos is still chaos, as one of my colleagues noted. We have to clean up."

So what do vendors need to do? Truly embracing openness and thinking about how telco networks will be based around the three pillars of IP, SDN, and NFV/infrastructure cloud would be a good start. Working with networks management standards such as Yang would also help. (See Netconf & Yang Go Mainstream.)

"We've been working on new OSS for the past two years and we're far from done. We've been using Yang data models… there is huge momentum behind Yang, and believe it could be a way to get rid of the element managers in the OSS," added Clauberg.

Clauberg's main partner for Yang capabilities to date has been the Swedish specialist vendor Tail-f Systems -- it'll be interesting to see what Clauberg thinks of today's news in the context of his hopes for openness from the major vendors. (See Cisco to Buy Hot Startup Tail-f for $175M.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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6/17/2014 | 6:13:50 PM
Losing The Sacred
"So what do vendors need to do? Truly embracing openness and thinking about how telco networks will be based around the three pillars of IP, SDN, and NFV/infrastructure cloud would be a good start."

The battle between vendors and network folks will be continuing but as pointed out there will have to be some forward thinking by those manufacturers to fit in with just where telco networks seemingly want to be headed.
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