NFV (Network functions virtualization)

Confessions of an Oracle Shopaholic: Pt II

Light Reading: You mentioned the need to meet the service providers' needs as they shift to new networks and systems. As they move towards software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV), what do you need to do to your business to be ready for the telco RFPs they say they want to virtualize?

Bhaskar Gorti: We are seeing some requests that just say, "Do you support virtualization?" We already support this. The entire Oracle Communications portfolio right now is supported on a virtual environment and that is one of the key design criteria we have for R&D and for acquisitions, including when we looked at Acme and Tekelec. Within the broader Oracle we have our own hypervisor and we have our own VM [virtual machine] and we can leverage that expertise. It's at the early stages but you will see us bringing to market more and more of these capabilities and anything we bring will be running on a dedicated environment and a virtual environment. Whether it is policy, Diameter, session border controller, SIP trunking and IMS elements, they all run on purpose-built and a virtualized environment.

Light Reading: So that's your products in a virtualized environment, but what will be the impact on your portfolio of the introduction of SDN and NFV, because the general perception is that today's OSS tools, not so much the BSS, having been built for legacy networks are perhaps not relevant for SDN. The concern is that the OSS toolsets are not fit for purpose for future networks, albeit a long time in the future. Are you thinking about how to make your OSS tools relevant in a virtualized environment?

Gorti: If you look at our OSS portfolio, our activation tools have the capabilities for virtual IP addresses as well as physical network elements and we are adding more capabilities to that. Our inventory system has a federated user interface so that it can manage not only a physical network. So we see virtualization as a positive trend for us, it has been a direction for us for a while -- we are building service fulfillment portfolios that are not dedicated to any physical network. We are not just waiting for this to happen, we are proving it to network operators.

Light Reading: In what way?

Gorti: With deployments and with our architecture, with that level of hardware independence. Many of the operators run heterogeneous elements and they are trying to figure out what systems to get to run their networks and, well, that's perfect for us because we are a neutral party. We are saying to the operators that they can architect a service fulfillment layer that creates an abstract to the physical networks they have deployed. The other important thing is that it's not just a multi-vendor network environment but it's a multi-network environment -- mobile, fixed, cable … how can your service fulfillment handle a multi-network environment? We feel this is all very positive for us but it is at the early stages of course. It's at the early stages because the operators need to feel more confident about this and the suppliers need to adapt. If you look at some of the large traditional network suppliers they are not really ready for this, they are not motivated to come up with solutions that will make it easy for an operator to deploy, for instance, four different RAN [radio access network] vendors, but that's where we can help.

Light Reading: Do you feel there is a lot of education still needed on how the convergence of IT and telecoms is going to affect the industry on both the supply side and at the network operators?

Gorti: A lot of people are asking questions and putting things in presentations -- a lot of the time it is just buzzword compliance [laughs]. For example, I was talking with a network equipment vendor and they were talking about session delivery networks, and I asked, "What's your view on Acme?" And they noted that while Acme was independent, their session controller had to be tied to their switch or router. Acme has a large market share because most of the other SBCs have just been added as another feature of a router or of something else. A lot of the traditional players are adding these capabilities to drag their network element into the IT and virtual world and that mindset has to evolve. It has started, but it has to speed up or the software companies will … well, the landscape is changing.

On page 3: Gorti on industry rivals and the Oracle sales pitch.

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TTDCorp 8/21/2013 | 10:54:31 AM
Re: Confessions of an Oracle Shopaholic I think all four (Carrol, Ray, Gordon, Gorti) of you at the end of the article have identified the struggle here.  The Domain leaders (Ericsson, AMDOCs) and Foundation providers (Comverse, Oracle etc...) are looking at Service Providers, SCOPE, SCTE, ATIS, TMN to publish more finite information.  The source information is moving because of the parallel initiatives:

IMS and SOA Architectures addressing

Convergence Products

Wireless service additions for Multi-Mode operation

Tremendously large operators transitioning to All-IP to catch up with Wireless, Cable, CLEC, ISP/OTT

Virtualization, SDN, NFV

With so many initiatives, each company must build custom for now, without requirements, just goals exist and quite frankly, it could be 10 years before we see common modules for operators because the Business Processes do not yet exist, much less prepare for inter-operability of O/BSS messagaing between systems and operators. 

As much as a Service Provider would like to be able to pick and choose, the vendors have to respond with an all-or-nothing solution.  Oracle has several clients who have modules of successful integration of Diameter, IMS, SBC with the Wireless, Video and UCC apps developed from Arris, Cisco, BroadCloud, Sonus, MetaSphere.  So at this early stage of SDN/NFV (which some carriers look as a hosted service and internal IT capability but not a Service Platform) Ericsson, AMDOCS, Oracle now have tall orders to sell Service Providers in what can only be described as faith-based deployment. 
C Chappell 8/19/2013 | 10:37:17 AM
Confessions of an Oracle Shopaholic Ray, there are a number of companies with interesting strategies for managing a virtualized network consisting of virtual network functions (VNFs) and with roadmaps for OSS in an NFV context. NEC, Cyan, Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco spring immediately to mind here. I don't see NFV management leadership coming from the likes of Oracle and Amdocs, though - at least not at the moment. It's not enough to say that you have a hypervisor and an OSS with the ability to activate virtual IP addresses - NFV management will involve much more than this. And do operators want vendor-specific  hypervisors and 'purpose-built' environments - how open an approach to NFV will Oracle offer?
[email protected] 8/19/2013 | 3:54:08 AM
Readiness for SDN and NFV Does any company have a set of OSS/management tools that could run a software-defined/virtualized telco network? 


I think not. 

For me, the big question is -- which cmpanies will develop the software that IS capable of such tasks. This is where R&D money needs to go, including VC money.
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