Telecom Italia Not Ready to Transform, Admits Exec

Italian incumbent says it will be much easier to overcome technical challenges than business and organizational ones when introducing SDN and NFV technologies.

Iain Morris, International Editor

March 9, 2016

3 Min Read
Telecom Italia Not Ready to Transform, Admits Exec

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.

For more NFV-related coverage and insights, check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

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, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Iain Morris

International Editor, Light Reading

Iain Morris joined Light Reading as News Editor at the start of 2015 -- and we mean, right at the start. His friends and family were still singing Auld Lang Syne as Iain started sourcing New Year's Eve UK mobile network congestion statistics. Prior to boosting Light Reading's UK-based editorial team numbers (he is based in London, south of the river), Iain was a successful freelance writer and editor who had been covering the telecoms sector for the past 15 years. His work has appeared in publications including The Economist (classy!) and The Observer, besides a variety of trade and business journals. He was previously the lead telecoms analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, and before that worked as a features editor at Telecommunications magazine. Iain started out in telecoms as an editor at consulting and market-research company Analysys (now Analysys Mason).

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