Data Center Infrastructure

BTE 2015: Making Old Technology New

Adapting existing technology to suit the needs of the modern service provider is a common theme for Heavy Reading analyst Roz Roseboro's presentations at the Big Telecom Event this week.

I caught up with Roseboro last week (and that's no mean feat, because she moves -- and talks -- at warp speed) to hear from her about her three BTE presentations. They're all about making old things new and exciting.

"Re-architecting VNFs for New Services" is the title of a panel Roseboro is moderating Wednesday afternoon. The title is dry, she concedes, but the subject matter definitely isn't.

"NFV is taking stuff that used to be on dedicated platforms and moving it onto general purpose hardware," Roseboro says. Network functions move from custom-built, expensive appliances to inexpensive commodity hardware. Router hardware, for example, is optimized for routing -- getting the software to run well on commodity hardware takes work.

Developers need to get the software working on a hypervisor, Roseboro says.

But achieving hardware independence alone isn't enough to get the full benefit of NFV. The real benefit starts when network functions have been broken down into individual components -- modularizing it, in other words.

"Once it's in the virtual form, you can create new types of services," Roseboro says. You mix and match the components in different ways.

"That can only be done if the VNF owners architect it that way -- and it's not at all clear they're doing that," Roseboro says.

After that comes "cloudifying" -- pooling resources, automating orchestration, to scale up and scale down as needed and provide orchestration, Roseboro says.

Joining Roseboro on her panel are Christos Kolias, senior research scientist, Orange (NYSE: FTE) Silicon Valley; Milind Kulkarni, director, Product Management, Software Networking Business, Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD); Kelly LeBlanc, vice president of marketing, 6WIND ; and Sanjeev Mervana, senior director, product and solutions marketing, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

Later that day, Roseboro and panelists look at "The Future State of Telco Data Center Infrastructure," with a focus on defining the data center in the context of a telco.

"The perception of a data center being like a Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) or a Facebook , with hundreds of thousands of servers in a central location, isn't likely to be one that telcos use," Roseboro says. Telcos have large numbers of central offices, spread out geographically, and will want to take advantage of equipment located there. And they'll need to. "Some services take advantage of being closer to the edge," she says.

Sharing the stage with Roseboro will be Paul Obsitnik, vice president of service provider marketing, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR); and Jared Wray, senior vice president of Platform, CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL)

Finally -- or, rather, first up -- for early birds at BTE, Roseboro is participating in a 7:00 a.m. Tuesday workshop titled "How Telcos Can Leverage and Influence Open Source."

That's a subject of great personal interest to me; it's been fascinating to watch open source mature over more than 20 years. I've seen it mostly from an enterprise perspective for most of that time. Early on, when you mentioned open source to IT managers and vendors, their reaction was nearly physical revulsion. They equated open source with communism.

Now, open source has become mainstream, as companies see open source as entirely compatible with doing business. Service providers are adopting open source, driven in part by need to avoid vendor lock-in. "That's become almost as bad a word as communism," Roseboro quips.

Roseboro says she's only presenting about five minutes at that event, which is led by the OpenDaylight Project.

"Telcos know about open source," Roseboro says. "But not everyone knows why and how they should engage." Answering those questions is the subject of that early morning discussion.

To hear from Roseboro and other industry experts, join us this week at Light Reading's second Big Telecom Event in Chicago. Hope to see you there!

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected]

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