Light Reading

Let's Federate Our NFV Labs – Telefónica

Ray Le Maistre

Major network operators are planning to hook up their NFV reference labs in order to share their R&D findings and accelerate the deployment of virtualized network functions.

The revelation came during a Big Telecom Event (BTE) keynote presentation by Diego Lopez, senior technology expert at Telefónica I+D, the R&D operation of Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF). (See the BTE show site for all the news from the show.)

Lopez, a senior figure in NFV circles, explained that Telefónica had built its own NFV reference lab using multiple components (commodity switches, hypervisor, OpenStack-based virtual infrastructure management, orchestrator, multiple virtual functions), and is now in the process of "federating reference labs" with other operators to "validate common use cases, experiment with collaboration mechanisms, explore business models, and build a global reference implementation." (See Telefónica Building NFV Reference Platform With Red Hat & Intel.)

Lopez declined to name any of the other telcos currently involved, but noted there were "a few" and that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been agreed around the use of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU)'s CloudBand platform, which would enable the labs to link up and collaborate via a virtual network.

And while Lopez was keeping any further details to himself, sources on the BTE show floor suggested that NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) is one of the operators ready to engage with Telefónica and others in NFV lab collaboration.

That Telefónica is leading the charge here is not a big surprise. The Spanish operator has a very aggressive timetable for the introduction of virtualized elements into commercial operations, starting with virtual residential CPE in Latin America any time soon, and is keen to accelerate developments and understanding on NFV use cases in any way. (See Telefónica Unveils Aggressive NFV Plans and Telefónica Preps NFV Trial .)

"We are focused on accelerating innovation," said the Telefónica man. "We want to shorten the roadmap … [and] break the cycle of long-term development. We are witnessing a paradigm shift in networking, with software at the core of the network," Lopez told the BTE crowd, adding that "SDN is more than a promise."

NFV, though, is more advanced. "NFV is well beyond the first steps -- there are mature proofs of concept and initial field deployments" that are leading to "completely new business models," noted Lopez.

And completely new collaboration models too, it seems.

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

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Dor Skuler
Dor Skuler,
User Rank: Lightning
7/2/2014 | 10:28:14 AM
Re: Telcos pushing the agenda
Actually, we're very happy to see service providers collaberate with each other and are super proud that they're using the CloudBand eco-system as a platfrom to work together.

there are many common challanges regarding operational transformation, business case, change management, "where to start", etc. We think that sharing approaches around these items are crucial to move NFV adoption forward.

Dor (CloudBand team)
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
6/30/2014 | 9:48:49 PM
Re: Telcos pushing the agenda
But would AlcaLu be pleased that Telefonica might show the workings of CloudBand to operators who are working closely with Ericsson and Huawei? Sure, it's a standards-based industry so eventually everyone ends up sharing some of their best stuff, and there are industry forums to mediate cooperation. But a vendor who's got ahead of the curve might legitimately be reluctant to see its customer over-sharing.  

sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/30/2014 | 4:25:42 PM
Re: Telcos pushing the agenda


Don't see why there would be regulatory issues involved. This sort of thing has happened between vendors and SPs before when they are trying out a new technology. They can do this thru an established standards body (e.g., IETF), or set up a group to try things out (e.g. MPSL Forum, Carrier Ethernet Forum), or do this informally among themselves (as in this instance). Anyhow, that's my 2 cents...
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
6/30/2014 | 4:07:26 PM
Re: Telcos pushing the agenda
Are there anticompetitive factors, with competing carriers cooperating in this fashion? Could regulators block this?
User Rank: Blogger
6/30/2014 | 11:58:44 AM
Telcos pushing the agenda
THis is another example of how the service providers, rather than the vendor community, are creating the agenda in NFV... 'organic' collaboration that has the potential to be very influential. 
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