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Colt Preps Next-Gen OSS for NFV, SDN

Ray Le Maistre

DÜSSELDORF -- SDN & OpenFlow World Congress -- One of the biggest challenges for telcos as they plan to introduce NFV and SDN into their existing networks is how they'll manage their legacy/virtualized hybrid next-generation networks.

Colt Technology Services Group Ltd might just have the answer. Or, at least, the pan-European operator has one of the answers.

That's because Colt is further ahead than many operators when it comes to SDN and NFV -- it already has virtualized customer premises equipment (CPE) at enterprise customers. But now it needs to tackle its management layer -- and that's a major undertaking.

And it's not just a big issue for Colt. SDN and NFV might be the most used industry abbreviations here this week, but hot on their heels is OSS, and that's because no one yet knows what kind of management systems will be needed to manage virtualized functions and software-defined architectures.

So what is Colt going to do? Nico Fischbach, director of Strategy, Architecture and Innovation at the operator, told delegates here this morning that a big back office upheaval is being planned. "We have actually done stuff [NFV] and have learned quite a few lessons. The transition from physical to virtual has been hard -- there are lots of challenges," he said.

And the OSS is one of the biggest headaches. "We are only 20 years old, but sometimes it seems like we have more legacy systems than some incumbents."

In addition, OSS was not at the top of Colt's list as it planned and executed its initial foray into NFV. "We spent a lot of time on the [network] technology and on our people, but not enough focus on the OSS," Fischbach said. "And there are lots of questions to be answered: What to do with inventory? And all the EMSs [element management systems]?"

Need to know more about the management of network assets and applications in an SDN and NFV environment? Then check out the agenda for OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV: Evolution vs Revolution, November 5, at the Thistle Marble Arch Hotel, London

So now Colt is having a real run at a new OSS architecture and, Fischbach tells Light Reading, the operator is ready to share its insights and strategy, and plans to do so in early November at the OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV: Evolution vs Revolution conference, where Simon Farrell, OSS Architect at Colt, is a keynote speaker. (See OSS Is Key to SDN, NFV Strategies.)

Fischbach wasn't giving much away here in advance of the London presentation, but he did note that the plan does not include the complete eradication of all legacy OSS systems. He also noted at the same time that Colt is seeking a single orchestration platform for its virtualized assets, and as the operator has already deployed Cyan Inc. 's Blue Planet system it seems likely that the vendor's technology will play some sort of role in Colt's management and orchestration plans. (See Colt a Significant Win for Cyan.)

Colt is not alone in finding that the OSS is a major challenge once virtualization hits the telco wide area network: Diego Lopez, head of Technology Exploration at Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s R&D group, Telefónica I+D, today provided an update on the Spanish giant's NFV rollout plans in Brazil, where it is introducing virtual residential CPE to broadband customers at its subsidiary Vivo Participacoes SA . The whole process has been challenging, noted Lopez, but "the OSS and BSS is the pain point."

Look out for more coverage on Telefónica's NFV progress.

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

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