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.