Light Reading

Data Center Virtualization: Tough for Carriers, Tougher for Vendors

Mitch Wagner
8/4/2014
50%
50%

Welcome to telco data center month here at Light Reading. Throughout August, we'll be taking a close look at the technology, people, and business issues driving change at carrier data centers.

To kick things off, we talked to two of the sector's key experts on carrier data centers: Jim Hodges and Roz Roseboro are both senior analysts at Heavy Reading , specializing in data center issues.

So what are the major technology and business issues driving telco data center transformation?

Jim and Roz laugh. "SDN and NFV," they say, nearly at the same time.

"I guess we're done then," I say. "Thanks for your time. Bye now!"

OK, so I didn't say that... it's not that clear cut.

Carriers are deep into the process of virtualizing their server and storage infrastructure, and are now beginning to virtualize the network, Roseboro explains.

That's true in many industries, but it's a particular challenge for carriers, which face high availability, security, and regulatory requirements that do not constrain companies in other sectors, Hodges says.

Carriers need to move methodically, because virtualizing requires deep cultural change, Roseboro adds.

Both carriers and vendors need to move from managing hardware to software. "Operators are currently managing lots of boxes and they're moving on to manage software, requiring different tools and processes," Roseboro says.

SDN and NFV are two faces of virtualization. Of the two, NFV is moving faster, in part because NFV is being driven by network operators, with a key group of major telcos -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), KDDI Corp. , NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), among others -- having published a white paper in 2012 laying out their demands. "Operators have been clear about their desire to move away from proprietary hardware solutions," Roseboro says. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

Carrier-driven disruption is rare, says Hodges. In the past, disruptive technology came from outside; it's something the carriers could not control. "It's a major switch to the telco business model, but it's being driven by the telcos in many respects," Hodges says. "In some respects, NFV is more disruptive to the vendor communities."

Roseboro says she's been hearing from carriers that it's harder to make a business case for SDN than for NFV, because SDN's primary benefit -- at least for now -- is reducing opex. "Carriers will invest to increase revenue. It's hard to get people to invest to save money," she says.

So which carriers are leading the move to virtualization? It's hard to say.

All the Tier 1 carriers have ongoing programs, "because they realize this is their architecture of the future," and it's very much a global process, Hodges says: The operators that signed the NFV white paper in many respects have set the pace, he notes.

Operators are putting virtual firewalls and other appliances at the edge of the network to take their first steps toward NFV, but core functions have yet to be specced out, Roseboro says, adding that it's too early in the virtualization transition to identify and name leaders.


Find out more about how NFV is shaping the data center -- join us for our NFV & the Data Center event Sept. 16 in Santa Clara.


Look out during the rest of the month for more coverage of telco data center issues and developments, including features on the top people and vendors leading the transition.

And for further reading, check out these NFV and SDN articles on Light Reading:

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to wagner@lightreading.com.

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
More Blogs from Wagner’s Ring
The long-standing project, which includes Google among its sponsors, transferred to Australia after failing to get relief from a law requiring operators to notify the government of any network changes.
But he's happy to talk about running and lifting weights.
The Cisco lawsuit is taking its toll. But it's not all bad.
The departure comes to light a few weeks after Cisco was calling Meraki a big deal. Awkward!
Cisco ONE is an attempt to simplify a 'morass of complexity and price maximization' that Cisco created itself, HP says.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Interviews
In the Cloud With Telecom Italia

3|5|15   |   7:10   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders sits down with Telecom Italia's Simone Battiferri at Mobile World Congress to discuss virtualization, agility and the economic advantages of the cloud.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
New Ways of Working

3|5|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Hong Kong Telecom's Michael Yue explains how the transformation in its business has changed its customer relationships.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bridging the Digital Gap

3|5|15   |   4:03   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Boingo's Dr. Derek Peterson explains how ICT can help telcos bring the physical and virtual worlds closer together.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Making the Internet of Things Affordable

3|5|15   |   2:42   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Telefonica's Dr. Mike Short explains how the Internet of Things demands a new low-cost approach to connectivity from telcos.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Evolution, Not Revolution

3|5|15   |   2:00   |   (0) comments


At the ICT Leaders Roundtable, hosted jointly by Light Reading and Huawei at the Hotel Renaissance in Barcelona just prior to Mobile World Congress, Heavy Reading's Patrick Donegan explains why telcos can't be too hasty in their efforts to transform themselves.
LRTV Custom TV
Management & Orchestration Enablement Strategies Required for NFV Commercial Success

3|5|15   |   6:22   |   (0) comments


NFV commercial success rests on successful service orchestration strategies which can span heterogeneous physical, virtual, legacy and next-gen networks. Network data and security integrity are additional key aspects. Nakina provides a suite of orchestratable network integrity applications built on an open, scalable MANO enablement platform.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Power of Five Convergences in OceanStor OS

3|4|15   |   6:24   |   (0) comments


OceanStor OS is Huawei's brand-new storage operating system. While inheriting the consistent high stability, reliability and performance from the company's previous storage products, OceanStor OS abounds in new converged storage features. Specifically, the new storage operating system achieves "five convergences" to lift storage convergence to a higher level.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
4K Brings Extreme Video Experience

3|4|15   |   8:10   |   (0) comments


4K video is a hot topic in the video industry. It will certainly bring an extreme video experience to end users. At the same time, however, it will also pose a big challenge to operators. Check out this Huawei 4K experts' discussion about how operators can achieve success in 4K video service.
LRTV Interviews
DT's Virtualization Vision for Europe

3|4|15   |   10:23   |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks virtualization, cloudification and standards with Deutsche Telekom's Axel Clauberg at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE's Wireline at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   6:35   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks with Jane Chen, ZTE's Senior VP of Wireline Business, about innovations in her product line at Mobile World Congress.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at MWC 2015

3|4|15   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dick Chen of ZTE USA gives Light Reading an overview of what's new at ZTE's pavilion at Mobile World Congress 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson CEO Talks Telco Data Center Tech

3|4|15   |   05:45   |   (1) comment


At Mobile World Congress, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg discusses telco data center technology, business models, small cells and more.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Internet Pioneers Decry Title II Rules
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/2/2015
Wheeler: We'll Enforce Title II 'Case-By-Case'
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/3/2015
New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/4/2015
Verizon Takes Radio Dot to Detroit, VoLTE Overseas
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/27/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders talks transformation and virtualization – including Light Reading's independent testing of the vendor's virtualization solutions – with Cisco CEO John Chambers at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.