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BT’s NFV Guru Joins CableLabs

Ray Le Maistre

Don Clarke, one of the leading individuals spearheading NFV developments at BT, has left the UK incumbent to join CableLabs, the not-for-profit R&D consortium that develops cable network technical specifications.

Clarke, a BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) veteran of 25 years who was most recently head of network evolution innovation at the UK telco, joined CableLabs in early May as principal architect, network technologies, with a remit to "drive network technology innovation with a focus on NFV and SDN."

NFV is Clarke's driving passion. He was the editor of the joint-carrier paper that brought NFV out into the open in October 2012, was a co-founder of the ETSI NFV Industry Specifications Group (ISG), where he is chairman of the Network Operator Council (NOC), which guides the ISG's work (a role he retains), and had been leading a team focused on NFV research at BT. (See Carriers Collaborate on Network of the Future, Carriers Peer Into Virtual World, and NFV Group Finds Its Feet.)

Now he has taken that knowhow to CableLabs, where he faces the challenge of translating his telco work into the world of cable network technology. Clarke is not without cable experience: He was once responsible for network strategy at Westminster Cable, a local London operator that was eventually acquired by NTL (now Virgin Media) in 1999.

BT's other key NFV figure has been chief data network strategist Peter Willis, who is still with the British operator.

Clarke's shift to the cable world comes as MSOs begin to embrace the possibilities of virtualization and as cable network assets become more attractive to telcos such as Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), which has been snapping them up around Europe to supplement its mobile business. (See ONO Says Yes to Vodafone.)

Hear about Clarke's take on NFV for cable networks at an Open Networking Foundation Workshop, The Evolving Role of Standards, to be held on Monday June 16 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers as part of the Big Telecom Event (BTE).

The June 16 workshops, hosted by the ONF and Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) , are free for anyone registered for BTE: To register, click here.

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

Want to learn more about NFV? Check out the agenda for Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which will take place on June 17 and 18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. The event combines the educational power of interactive conference sessions devised and hosted by Heavy Reading's experienced industry analysts with multi-vendor interoperability and proof-of-concept networking and application showcases. For more on the event, the topics, and the stellar service provider speaker lineup, see the agenda.

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User Rank: Lightning
6/3/2014 | 10:29:19 PM
Peter Willis role in the foundations of NFV
I am very pleased to see Peter Willis mentioned here. Peter was instrumental in creating BT's NFV research capability and was (is) the technical mastermind behind BT's NFV endeavour. My role was to orchestrate external industry collaboration in a spirit of open innovation. With Peter at the helm, I am confident BT will continue to be a leader on NFV. I would also like to mention Jeff Patmore who was the manager and technical lead at Westminster Cable. I supported Jeff in my then role at BT Labs to help chart the evolution roadmap for Westminster Cable. Subsequently Jeff became a colleague at the labs and remains a friend and mentor. - Don Clarke.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/2/2014 | 7:20:27 PM
Glad Don's Vision isn't Lost!
Don was the founding visionary behind NFV, and his new role is important both because it could bring the cable industry more into NFV and because, since CableLabs is a carrier lab organization, Don can still hold leadership positions on the carrier advisory side of NFV.  Contrats, Don, and best of luck!
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