PARIS -- MPLS/SDN/NFV World Congress -- A leading executive from Telecom Italia has confessed that his organization is unprepared for the transformation that will be needed as the telco introduces more software and virtualization technologies into its network.
Michele Gamberini, the Italian incumbent's head of core network and infrastructure, says the operator is being forced to rethink its entire operating model as user demands change and traditional business activities continue to founder.
Along with other service providers in western Europe, Telecom Italia (TIM) has begun making investments in NFV technologies, based on open access principles, that will support greater automation and allow it to offer network-on-demand services in future.
Speaking at today's MPLS/SDN/NFV World Congress in Paris, Gamberini told attendees that the technical hurdles would be easier to overcome than the business and organizational ones.
"I can tell you that the organization is not ready to go ahead with this transformation," he said during a morning presentation. "We need to review skills sets, internal processes and culture, which will be the most difficult thing. The business proposition has to change to really profit from this transformation."
Key to Gamberini's vision is the introduction of open APIs that will expose network functionality to third parties as well as internal users. But this will require Telecom Italia to establish so-called DevOps methodologies throughout its organization.
The DevOps term is typically used to describe a culture in which developers are able to collaborate effectively on the rapid design and release of new software.
Telecom Italia is accordingly planning to run a series of training programs this year addressing both engineering and operational needs around these DevOps methodologies.
It will also continue to press ahead with the rollout of SDN and NFV technologies.
The operator claims to have already deployed NFV infrastructure at two points of presence, where it has begun to "onboard" virtual network functions (VNFs). This year it plans to set up two additional NFV sites, according to Gamberini, and continue onboarding VNFs. It also intends to conduct a series of tenders for an SDN controller and NFV orchestrator.
Gamberini says Telecom Italia's network will need to be able to react "dynamically" to future changes without having to go through what he calls a "long and cumbersome operational activity."
Another requirement of the operator is for two different layers of network orchestrators. "The NFV orchestration layer will provide a series of building blocks that can be composed through APIs while the end-to-end service orchestrator will deal with business and customer-centric logic," said Gamberini. "It's important to keep a clear demarcation and abstraction between the two layers so that changes in the network, such as swapping vendors, does not affect the service platform."
Next year, Telecom Italia aims to set up additional NFV sites, start virtualizing its radio access network and deploy the NFV orchestrator it will select this year.
"There are lots of actors involved in the transformation -- not just engineering but all the parts of the company," emphasized Gamberini. "An operating model shift is key to competing in the new digital arena."
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading