The situation may be critical because costs per bit are not dropping as fast as revenues per bit. The forces of competition are driving operators to be increasingly generous with data allowances for customers. As a consequence, the hunt for efficiency has become the #1 activity for many operators. (See Nolle: In 2017, Cost Per Bit Exceeds Revenues.)
Concern about NFV is certainly not confined to North America. On the other side of the planet, the Philippines' Globe Telecom Inc. sympathizes with Gedeon's complaints. Still weighing its NFV options, Globe wants to get rid of silos and duplication at its enterprise business, and have a common infrastructure platform for different workloads. But Vincent Seet, a Globe advisor on enterprise architecture, is disappointed by what he sees.
"We've realized there are a lot of strategy alliances between vendors and this so-called openness is limited to the strategy alliances they form," he tells Light Reading. "Some are providing VNFs [virtual network functions] that are certified to run only on their own hardware. If they are saying there is a secret sauce only their hardware can provide, we are still being locked down."
Seet agrees that NFV may have brought more operational complexity and little in the way of automation. Vendors' marketing of fancy but vague new expressions like "cloud infrastructure platform" has led to confusion in an NFV context, he says. He also thinks costs may have risen partly because operators warily investing in NFV have been maintaining more than one solution for a given function. "I would ideally want only one solution to provide that function on NFV," he says.
Vendors, for their part, have privately lashed out at telcos demanding a radical overhaul of charging arrangements for software licenses. Suppliers also need to make a profit, they point out. A recent squeeze on equipment spending has left some in a bad enough shape as it is.
Seet is unimpressed. "That is really shortsighted of the vendors," he says, when asked if suppliers are making a fair point about the commercial arrangements. "Of course, we don't want them to be making a loss, but they shouldn't be charging us more than we should pay."
Next page: Lashings of open source and a sprinkling of startups