Carrier SDN and NFV have been major buzzwords for the past few years, generating a great deal of head-scratching, strategizing and hot air blowing.
Now it's time for the telco vanguard to step up a gear and forge a path from PowerPoints and proofs of concept to group-wide deployment strategies and investments. I get the feeling that's about to happen at Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), which has undoubtedly been one of the key players in the development of next-generation, virtualized wide area communications networking concepts and tangible projects during the past few years.
My gut tells me we'll hear about DT's plans during its Capital Markets meeting, which takes place on Thursday, February 26 and Friday, February 27 at its headquarters in Bonn, Germany. And my perhaps far too noisy gut is also telling me that my SDN socks might be blown off.
The German giant has long been a focus for attention from the SDN community because of TeraStream, the next-generation, all-IP network model that the operator has been introducing in some of its European markets, particularly Croatia. (See Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator, Adtran: We're In at TeraStream and DT Teams With A10 for NFV Advance.)
Now it's time to take TeraStream to the next level -- and I think that's what we're going to hear about on Thursday, hopefully from CEO Timotheus Höttges and a number of his colleagues.
TeraStream has been underway for a few years as Deutsche Telekom, in line with its Tier 1 peers around the world, figure out how they can develop networks that are cheaper and easier to run and "fit for purpose" -- that is, networks that:
- have a high degree of automation
- can be programmed using software
- are capable of responding in near real-time to customer demands and security challenges
- can handle the unfathomable pressures of massive volumes of streaming 4K/ultra HD high-definition video and data (cloud, IoT and so on) that are going to be traversing communications networks in the coming years
- can deliver new revenue-generating opportunities.
I expect to hear DT executives talk during the next few days about how they are taking what they have learned so far from TeraStream and applying it to their broad corporate strategy.
How will that manifest itself? It could come in the form of a medium-term, wide-ranging network and IT overhaul plan that will cost billions but keep DT in business. It could come in the form of a new corporate entity set up to take TeraStream to that next level and innovate and advance DT's networks, systems and capabilities from outside the corporate rump.
The only thing that would come as a surprise to me during the next few days is if DT does not outline a bold new networking and IT strategy that has software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and a cloud/web-scale at its core.
I hope I won't be surprised, and I don't expect to be. Whatever the DT executive team announces during the next few days will have an impact on the whole communications networking ecosystem. Let's hope it involves a plan that can be the catalyst for more strategic decisions that will move our industry forward.
That's not to say that DT has the answers or that it's the one company that everyone is waiting to lead the way. Far from it: The likes of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), to name just two, are also helping to shape the future of the telecom industry. (See AT&T Touts SDN Push, Seeks Talent and NTT Shares Critical SDN Lessons.)
But TeraStream is one of those developments that has captured the attention of everyone who has been trying to figure out what comes next: It's special.
So it's over to you, Tim. Please blow my SDN socks off.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading