Light Reading

Verizon Worried About SDN, NFV Impacts

Sarah Thomas

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Genband Perspectives -- Verizon is banking on using SDN and NFV in its network to handle the growth in IP traffic, but at least one executive thinks the company is behind in thinking about the operational impacts of the emerging technologies.

Speaking here on Tuesday, Kyle Malady, SVP of global network operations for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), said that the carrier has a "strong program to leverage SDN and NFV," but he's concerned because he's seen a lot of hype of this kind in the past, such as with IMS. (See Defining SDN & NFV.)

"It's one thing to think about it on paper and another in the field with operational problems," he warned. "We are running behind in my company on thinking about the operational impacts of SDN and FNV on our business."

His main concern is that, in the past, if one of his engineers had a problem with, say, Genband Inc. equipment, it would call Genband. "In an NFV world, I'm not sure what happens," he admitted. "There could be a lot of different maintenance issues and people to talk to in order to fix one box." (See Liability Issues Increase in Virtual World.)

That said, Malady thinks SDN and NFV hold a lot of promise, and Verizon is "banking on it." It is just moving more cautiously than some of its competitors like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has been more bullish about the potential for the virtualization technologies. (See AT&T Working on Home-Grown SDN Controller for Later in 2014 and AT&T Spotlights Early SDN Efforts.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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Kevin Mitchell
Kevin Mitchell,
User Rank: Lightning
6/11/2014 | 2:52:28 PM
Cloud Means NFV From Single Vendor
This is one of the major drivers we hear for cloud sourcing voice vs rebuilding a voice network (NFV or otherwise). A cloud voice platform consolidates over 10 functional elements into a single elastic, fully managed and horizontally integrated solution. And done so with the all-OPEX, success-based SaaS model.

So that's leveraging NFV but from a single vendor and with a better business model, single point of contact for support and lower risk. Cloud voice platform equals NFV plus NOC, plus operations. And done right, the cloud voice platform gives the service provider an elegant way to manage the voice business, not technology.

MNOs and telcos no longer need to run a voice network to be a voice provider. They should leverage the cloud, bot build one when it comes to voice. Their core focus should be on investing in broadband and mobility networks and applications not rebuilding a network that delivers a commodity service with declining ARPU.

My blogs on the topic:

Delicate Balance: Voice without the Investment

NFV is Necessary but not Sufficient

User Rank: Light Sabre
6/11/2014 | 1:23:51 PM
Re: Choking throats

I think you are a bit optimistic about Systems Vendors ability to control themselves.  My experience over the past 10 years or so that the old multiple vendor thing has devolved into 1 winner and a stalking horse.  Given the margin pressure and lack of differentiation that has been put into the business. The stalking horses slave away trying to get any amount of business and end up with less than they spend in R&D for a given program.


To the main point here, there are two ways to proceed.  Purists would like 100K employee organizations to completely redo themselves to use the new technology.  Most people think that we will have experiments and trials.  I think that the experiments and trials will lead to some potential actual RFPs for actual deployment.  This will be true after there has been some time to consume the output from the experiements.  The challenge is going to be is that nobody is likely to have the exact product requested in that RFP.  On top of that things that actually get deployed won't match the RFP.  

Use case at a time will be how this goes. Took 20 years for ARPANET to become the WWW.  We are now 20 years into that revolution and think how different the prirorities are now.  Why should I think a fundamental shift will take less?

User Rank: Light Sabre
6/11/2014 | 9:38:06 AM
Re: Choking throats
Except you choke that one throat a little too much and you could sufficate them and then you suffer because all your eggs are in one basket.  While not always the best to have multiple vendors which create more maintenance and operational issues, it's better to have them competing against each other to improve their products and reduce costs. Keeping Vendor X on their toes knowing they can be swapped out fairly quickly with Vendor Y who is already embedded in the network. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/10/2014 | 11:44:18 PM
Choking throats
Cultural changes with SDN and NFV are more important than technology.

When multiple vendors provide a solution, you can get into fingerpointing when something goes wrong. With a single-vendor solution you have one throat to choke.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/10/2014 | 10:22:57 PM
Re: Implementation
@danielcawrey, good points. I think, however, that it appears that Verizon may not be fully recognizing the differences, which will truly slow down their understanding of the new.  You first have to know what you don't know and then learn about it.

I think that has been the problem with much of new technology, the tendency is there to just think of a new application, rather than learning and understanding the technology and how it is different.

User Rank: Light Sabre
6/10/2014 | 7:24:20 PM
It seems like this is a common problem with any new technology. How do you plan for something that has not yet been implemented? If you don't understand the specifica consequences of things, it can be difficult to put them into any sort of context. 

The future for SDN and NFV is inevitable. But its realization may be further off than many may think. 
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