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NFV: Bringing VMware & the Telcos Together

Mitch Wagner

The growing maturity of NFV is, you could argue, creating a mutual attraction between VMware and the communications service provider community. But is VMware rushing to the telco market? Or is NFV bringing the telcos to VMware?

The way VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) sees it, NFV is at the forefront of the movement that is transforming service provider networks from specialized, purpose-built equipment and waterfall software development to standardized IT servers and IT-inspired DevOps development, part of the transition to New IP networks. And the team at VMware believes that all plays to its virtualization strengths.

"Our mandate is to enable telco networks to benefit from the same agility and improvement that IT has benefited from, by using the core concepts of virtualization," Shekar Ayyar, VMware senior VP strategy and corporate development and GM of the Telco NFV Group, tells Light Reading.

VMware Man
NFV head Shekar Ayyar
NFV head Shekar Ayyar

Ayyar adds: "The telco industry is in the early days of the transition, but VMware is not. The movie has been played by us in a parallel domain for some time."

Probably only a handful of telcos have deployed NFV architectures at scale, Ayyar says. "In contrast, you would be hard pressed to find a single enterprise today that has not virtualized its architecture." Telcos will follow the same path with NFV that enterprises followed with virtualization, Ayyar says. VMware hopes to see 100 carriers adopting NFV by 2017-18.

And VMware plans to lead the trend. "VMware fully expects to be a market leader in terms of number of customers and market share."

Taking charge
Ayyar took command of the new Telco NFV Group a little more than a year ago, in February 2015. He joined VMware in 2007, and during his tenure he led the acquisitions of Nicira -- which became the foundation of VMware's SDN business -- and Airwatch, an enterprise mobility management vendor. (See Nicira Founder Casado Leaves VMware, VMware to Buy SDN Startup for More Than $1B and VMware to Buy AirWatch for $1.54B.)

Find out more about network functions virtualization on Light Reading's NFV Channel.

The push to NFV comes as VMware goes through a transition. In January, it laid off 800 staff as part of a shift from its declining on-premises computing business to its growing cloud and networking business, the company said on its fourth-quarter 2015 earnings call, on January 26. The company's mainstay vSphere business is slowing down but software-defined data center products, including compute, storage, networking and management, are growing, with the NSX virtual networking line of business boasting 100% growth year-over-year. (See VMware Announces 800 Layoffs, Executive Shake-Up.)

In another big transition, VMware will soon get a new corporate parent. Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) plans to acquire EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), which holds a controlling interest in VMware, for $67 billion. Dell and EMC jointly announced the acquisition in October. (See Dell Buys EMC for $67B in Biggest Tech Deal Ever and Dell-EMC-VMware Merger Could Push Comms to Kids' Table.)

Next page: A foot in the door

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