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Colt Exec Joins NIA Board

Alison Diana

At its Board of Directors meeting in Austin on Monday, the New IP Agency welcomed Nico Fischbach, director of Strategy, Architecture and Innovation at Colt Technology Services, to its roster.

The news came only hours before the Colt On Demand services platform received Light Reading's Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service Leading Lights award. (See: Leading Lights 2016: The Winners.) A long-time advocate of interoperability in virtualization, Fischbach recently shared some of his thoughts on the importance of independent testing and his new role on the NIA board. Read on for the results of his interview with NIA's Alison Diana:

Alison Diana: Why is virtualization interoperability so important to you and to Colt?

Nicolas Fischbach: We want to make sure that the next-generation infrastructure and platforms we are building deliver the flexibility and the agility the business demands going forward. It's interoperability in the IP world which enabled networks we all rely on today. Today the expectations are not only interoperability at the network layer, but across the stack and that is the challenge which is upon us.

AD: Have you learned from another set of technologies?

NF: Historically, like probably everybody in the industry, yes. But as said, interoperability issues can happen at many different layers and can take many different forms. With the advent of virtualization comes also the one of "decomposition" and "recomposition" of the many parts that deliver the end-to-end service. The risk of introducing even more interoperability issues is great at the moment while everybody's aim is to simplify!

AD: What are the advantages to vendors for participating in an independent organization like NIA?

NF: It's an opportunity for them to validate their solution outside of the lab and within a more comprehensive setup than in many proof-of-concepts. In my view it will help to significantly reduce the burden of full testing with every single service provider they work with as many issues will be identified upstream and post their QA. Hopefully this will help accelerate adoption: Many expected 2016 to be the ramp-up year for VNFs. [Now it] looks like it's going to be 2017 finally...

AD: Same question but from a service provider perspective?

NF: It gives SPs the chance to influence vendors and industry directions for the benefit of the community and our customers. While many components of the virtualization stack will be hidden from customers as they are part of the underlying infrastructure, VNFs are what next-generation services will be built on. I also believe it's an opportunity to deliver "real-world" reference architectures that are deployable.

AD: Does it change your opinion on the vendors with whom you'll partner?

NF: It might not change it but it will very likely influence it. Their willingness to invest time into interop testing and expose their solution "to the world" is a strong signal, as the first outcome of the testing might not be positive.

AD: Would you not consider a virtualization vendor that has not undergone independent interoperability testing for its product/s?

NF:It will be a key question in every future RFP!

AD: How does NIA compare and contrast with other forms of testing now available to vendors?

NF:Most of the vendor testing seems to be either focused on their solution only and sometimes within the remit of their or a system integrator's ecosystem. The latter is probably going to help with adoption too, but at this stage the NIA goes further and is much broader.

AD: You're a busy executive: Why do you want to spend some of your time on the board of NIA?

NF: I'm hopeful that by investing time in NIA it will help me reduce the amount of time I need to spend with every single vendor in the early parts of future engagements (RFx, PoCs, etc.) as many questions will already be answered or issues resolved thanks to the work they've done as part of their NIA engagement. We still see way too many teething issues at the moment.

AD: What are some of your goals as a member of the Board of Directors?

NF: At Colt we have an early-adopter mindset. My goal is to share our experience (good and bad) in this space to help with more rapid adoption. I also believe strongly that the NIA can deliver much more than interop testing. As I've said many times, there are way too many WGs, SDOs and projects active in this space for us to just be able to follow. I see it as an opportunity for the NIA to deliver tools like reference architectures that will help simplify an SP's life.

AD: How important is it for service provider executives to participate in organizations like NIA?

NF: I think I've answered that question! I'm also conscious that it's not only another significant investment for SP executives but also for vendors in a very crowded space of industry forums they "need" to be active in or part of. I believe NIA is worth that investment.

— Alison Diana, Ambassador, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana.

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