& cplSiteName &

Telefónica Unveils Aggressive NFV Plans

Ray Le Maistre
2/23/2014
50%
50%

Telefónica is set to become one of the global leaders of the telco cloud movement with the aggressive introduction of network functions virtualization (NFV) into its international operations, starting this year, the carrier's CTO has revealed.

During a closed-door presentation delivered to just a handful of telecoms industry editors at the Spanish operator's headquarters in Madrid, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s global CTO Enrique Blanco outlined a timetable for the virtualization of much of the carrier's new network functionality and explained his reasons for being in the vanguard of a game-changing network transformation.

The operator is calling its initiative UNICA (a name it has used previously for API development work) and will begin as soon as June 2014, the CTO said.

Driving force in NFV
That Telefónica is making an early move towards functions virtualization will not come as a big surprise to those in the industry, but the pace at which it plans to introduce multiple virtual functions across its international infrastructure might raise some eyebrows, especially as the industry is still at the early proof-of-concept stage for the testing and trial of NFV. (See MWC Offers Peek at NFV Projects and NFV Group Kickstarts Proof-of-Concept Work.)

The Spanish carrier, one of the biggest and most influential network operators in the world, has long been at the forefront of the industry's NFV and software-defined networking (SDN) developments, as a founding member of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Industry Specification Group (ISG) and through its software-defined networking (SDN) work with technology partners such as NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701). (See 6 Degrees of Separation: SPs Define 'Open', NEC, Telefónica Team on SDN and Carriers Peer Into Virtual World.)

Now, though, it has decided it should wait no longer to begin a revolutionary revamp of its network, and will phase in virtualized functions starting in the middle of this year.

”We have been working with the vendors to try to find ways to make the networks more efficient,” and using the current technology strategies and implementations, “we can achieve maybe 10-15%, but that’s not enough. We have 25-30% traffic growth year-on-year,” he noted, adding that a large proportion of the traffic on Telefónica’s fixed networks comes from wireless devices via WiFi connections.

”So now we are looking at how we can virtualize the network to reach new levels of efficiency… we are looking at how SDN and NFV can be implemented in a large telco. This is a job for networks and IT,” he stressed, noting this was no longer just the domain of the telco's networking unit.

Pressing Ahead With NFV
Telefonica CTO Enrique Blanco: 'If we wait, nothing will happen.'
Telefónica CTO Enrique Blanco: "If we wait, nothing will happen."

Building from the datacenter
The core underlying platform for what Telefónica is trying to achieve is its datacenter facilities. “We started virtualizing datacenter capacity in 2011 and this year up to 40% of our datacenter capacity will be virtualized -- maybe 80% in 2015 -- and we’re looking to utilize this in our networks strategy,” stated the CTO. “If we wait, nothing will happen,” he added, prophetically.

On top of that, Telefónica will start to introduce virtualized functions, element by element, believing it can have about 30% of its new platforms in a virtualized format by 2016.

Critical to this process is openness a buy-in from vendors. “This has to be as multivendor approach. We have to avoid vendor lock-in, so working with multiple suppliers with an open approach is vital. Some of the vendors might not be happy because it is cannibalizing [their traditional business], but we are working with them on that.”

Vendor partners
The list of vendor partners is varied and interesting. Telefónica is working with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and NEC on proof of concept trials in Spain, Mexico, and the US respectively, while BroadSoft Inc. , Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP) and Nokia Networks are also close partners.

Other suppliers also working with the Spanish carrier include Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR)

No hypervisor suppliers were named though, and Blanco is keeping those details close to his chest currently, saying only that Telefónica is working with a number of different providers and options and that he didn't intend to throw away his NFV capex savings on investments in highly-priced hypervisor platforms. (The inference being that those with high price tags need to rethink if they want in...)

Among the network elements to be virtualized initially are customer premises equipment (CPE) -- “very simple to say, very difficult to do,” says Blanco. CPE virtualization -- whereby “all the services currently defined in the CPE will be defined in the network" -- is currently being trialled in Brazil with a view to introducing commercial deployments in the fourth quarter of this year.

Other elements set for the first phase are the evolved packet core (EPC) and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), which is due to be the first implementation.

Also in phase one of UNICA are virtual deep packet inspection (DPI) elements, set-top boxes (STBs) and DNS (domain name system) servers.

Then in the next few years (2015-16), Telefónica will seek to introduce virtualized policy control resource function (PCRF), Broadband Remote Access Server (B-RAS), service delivery platform (SDP) functions, real-time analytics platforms and SDN orchestrator.

The operator is also already working on virtualizing its radio access network (RAN) capabilities in a “cloud RAN” field trial in Spain, but Blanco notes this is some way off becoming a reality and has not yet been added to the actual roadmap. “Our initial focus is on the IT and signalling platforms,” he noted.

The end result of functions virtualization should be greater efficiencies: The CTO believes Telefónica can reduce its operating expenditures by up to 30% through NFV and have shared resources internationally so that not every market needs to have its own full set of network elements.

In addition, NFV should make it quicker and easier to introduce and replicate new services and upgrade the network, using the “datacenter-as-a-service model,” and deliver an improved customer experience (due to quicker service provisioning and fewer network faults).

For example, Blanco notes that with a traditional IMS, the capabilities are provided by a single vendor with specific hardware and software. “Just adding capacity can take four months,” he notes. With UNICA, he sees upgrades being possible “in hours, possibly even minutes, instead of months. “The key to this is flexibility -- this is a different way to think, with services not being tied to physical elements.”

It also makes it easier to introduce new vendors and replace those that aren’t meeting requirements, as a swap-out will involve only a software and not a hardware replacement process.

Cultural challenge
This will be a massive step for Telefónica, involving upheaval in the way it runs its network, delivers services and deals with suppliers. So is everyone on board with the UNICA strategy?

”We need to get the trust of all the people in Telefónica in all the different countries -- we need to set SLAs and then show we can achieve them. We need to deliver the quality that the people in every country need to run their businesses. We have to deliver to five nines. If we can’t do that then we are in trouble,” said Blanco. “All the technology people know it is going to happen, but it will take time. You can’t be against it… it is a change of culture and management.”

His colleague Cayetano Carbajo, director of planning and technology for transport, core, platforms and mobile devices at Telefónica, added: “The organizational and cultural change is harder than the technological change.”

And given that the technological change is going to be a very challenging process, Blanco and Carbajo have a massive task on their hands to introduce such a revolutionary change to a Tier 1 telco.

But the process has already begun, and the Telefónica team is using demos at the Mobile World Congress event to help convince the world (including its own staff) that the virtualization of telecom network functions is the way forward and that this radical process needs to start right now.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
2/24/2014 | 9:06:47 AM
What will the reaction be?
Telefonica believes it has to act now - that the current economic crush combined with the development of its cloud platforms and opportunities for introducing virtual elements has created a perfect storm, wanted or not.

But every carrier is different, both in terms of its circumstances and its willingness to be relativelt radical. Will others follow? Or will they watch, and wait...

Blanco's entusiasm for the opportunities is contagious, but that doesn't mean it's spread elsewhere. The plan is aggressive but also cautious - Telefonica isn't rip and replacing, but the introducing some virtual elements as it adds new platforms.

That's still leaps and bounds ahead of its peers, particularly in terms of the breadth of the plans. The management of the new elemets looks to be the big challenge.

This is one of the biggest developments in telecom in a very long time and however it progresses and evolves, it's going to be fascinating to watch. 
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 14, 1:00PM EDT
What Is Agile?
Kent J. McDonald, Product Owner, Agile Alliance
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 16, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement Agile
Alan Bateman, Director, Agile Transformation
Wednesday, September 21, 1:00PM EDT
What Is DevOps?
Colin Kincaid, CTO, Service Provider, Cisco
Friday, September 23, 1:00PM EDT
How to Implement DevOps
,
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
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
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (1) comment


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (2) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Cisco Developing 'Monica' Digital Assistant
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/22/2016
Rocket Fiber Lights Up Detroit With Gigabit
Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, 8/22/2016
'Most Wanted' Kobi Comes Home
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 8/23/2016
Arista Banned From Importing Products – Cisco
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/23/2016
How the Padres Hit an IoT Home Run
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 8/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Bridging the tech skills gap is a major challenge for service providers and suppliers alike today – and the challenge is two-fold when it comes to increasing the number of women in the comms space. Level 3 Communications has made it a priority to overcome both challenges by implementing several unique programs focused on building the right candidates from within – in addition to filling the funnel by supporting STEM and other education programs. During this radio show, you’ll learn about these programs from Mary Beth McGrath, SVP of Global Talent Management at Level 3, and the best ways to bridge your own skills gap so that you are motivated and equipped for change. Plus you’ll have the chance to ask Mary Beth your questions live on the air.