& cplSiteName &

BT: Virtualization Must Include Legacy

Carol Wilson
11/15/2016
100%
0%

LONDON -- OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV -- BT is working to bring the benefits of virtualization to the physical networks it operates today, and it's something Neil McRae believes the entire telecom industry needs to address.

Speaking earlier this month at Light Reading's event here, BT 's chief architect said he tells his team that virtualization is "not just about what we do in the future, but how do we leverage this for the stuff we have today?"

"In my mind it is impossible to ignore the fact that I have, in the UK, 6000 nodes delivering Ethernet to customers, and another 2000 points delivering broadband service and I have to build upon this capability if I want to overlay more applications such as TV or mobile services," McRae said. "I need to control all of those assets -- because those assets will be there at least 10 years, hopefully more. If I can't leverage them in this new world, then effectively we will have this thing that is very fast stuck in this thing that is very slow. And I think our industry is missing that fact."

BT's Neil McRae

McRae said BT is moving forward with other aspects of virtualization, including developing separate capabilities for larger and smaller commercial customers, and exploring white box hardware. The third leg of that stool is the effort to apply "virtualization, cloudification and SDN-ification" to legacy network assets.

"Our intention is to bring some of this agility to the networks we have today," he said. "Some people think I'm crazy for that and it might be true."

McRae said that in his conversations with other operators, they have expressed surprise at what BT is doing -- his response is that without including physical legacy networks in the virtualization effort, "you won't see the benefits of what you are doing now for a very long time."

In BT today, the goal is to make sure any piece of technology added to the network is done so within five days, McRae said. "It's all about keeping everything agile -- if it faces the network, touches the network, it has to be able to move in five days or less," he said. "The idea of something being delivered to me in a nice brown box from Nokia and Cisco and it going into the network delivery-plus-five -- that is what we have."

The BT executive also made a plea for reduced complexity in network operations, asking vendors to look for the simplest way of doing everything. One key element to that going forward will be building in more automation and machine learning and eliminating the human touch. McRae went so far as to advocate for the end of network operations centers as they are currently viewed, to be replaced by technicians with spare parts to be dispatched as needed by automated processes.


Want to know more about managing and orchestrating virtualized networks? Check out our orchestration section in the Light Reading NFV channel.


Flexibility is another key goal for BT and that includes maintaining vendor flexibility as well, he said.

He did cut vendors some slack, noting their current marketplace is as competitive and challenging as the ones network operators have, and saying it's up to the operators to maintain a level of abstraction that allows them to pick best-of-breed technology.

McRae offhandedly admitted that doesn't always happen. Initially, he heaped praise on Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) for its microservices approach, developed by acquisition Cyan, saying it "reconfirmed my commitment that we could do this in a telco because they have been able to do it with their controller." But he then added, "Sadly, we didn't buy it but that's a different story" and moved on to another topic.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
11/16/2016 | 8:15:34 AM
McRae is not alone -- figuring out how is the big hurdle
The desire to bring the agility, flexibility etc of virtualization to existing systems/infrastructure is universal, but figuring out HOW to do that is the very hard part. If BT can at least open the door, they'll find plenty of people coming a'knocking to ask how they did it.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
CommScope – Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow's Networks

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Phil Sorksy, Vice President International at CommScope, discusses addressing the challenges faced by service providers today, and as future trends emerge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
AMS-IX & Huawei's OSN 902

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shows how its OSN 902 platform helps the Amsterdam Internet exchange to connect the world using multiplexing.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Smart Energy Innovation Center

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In Nuremberg, Huawei showcases its latest capabilities in the digitalization of Internet resources, network infrastructure and intelligence at its Smart Energy Innovation Center.
Valley Wonk
OFC & Hyperscale: A Good Mix?

3|24|17   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Cloud and telecom players want different types of equipment for their networks, as the chatter at OFC reveals.
LRTV Custom TV
Etisalat on NFV Journey

3|24|17   |   10:37   |   (0) comments


Etisalat is a service provider that prides itself on bringing innovative technologies to the markets it serves. It was one of the first operators to implement 3G and leads the pack in fiber penetration. Now, Esmaeel Al Hammadi, Etisalat's SVP of Network Development, explains the operator's journey to virtualization, beginning with the network core, as well as the ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


The Citrix NetScaler mobile gateway is an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, NetScaler can be deployed on any hypervisor, on a ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: 2 Billion Adults 'Trapped' in Cash Economy

3|21|17   |   03:51   |   (1) comment


Despite advances made in the last several years, two billion adults around the world are trapped in a cash economy and lack what we take for granted -- a safe way to receive, save and use money. Shamina Singh, executive vice president of sustainability and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, chats about how Mastercard is developing new ways to ...
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Welcome to the Wild West of Privacy
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.