Data Center Infrastructure

DT: New IP Era Heralds Revamp for Telcos

DÜSSELDORF -- SDN & OpenFlow World Congress -- NFV doesn't just involve taking legacy capabilities and virtualizing them; it requires a much more holistic view of the way future network architectures will behave and the impact that will have on processes and skills requirements, noted Deutsche Telekom executive Axel Clauberg.

NFV, which was "born" two years ago, has resulted in many misconceptions, among them that it's just about virtualizing existing capabilities. "Just virtualization doesn't help at all," Clauberg said in a keynote address here Wednesday. (See Tier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDN.)

What's needed is a clear understanding of what the telco of the future will look like -- and that means getting to grips with the concept and idea of the "software-defined operator," a model Clauberg introduced a year ago. (See Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator.)

Understanding that model requires a familiarity with the shift towards The New IP, stated Clauberg, name-checking Light Reading's recently launched online community. "That's exactly what we're talking about here," Clauberg said (Thanks, Axel!). "Everything we're talking about is based on IP." (See Introducing 'The New IP' .)

Operators need to run NFV in an "infrastructure cloud," at the heart of which are data centers that function as part of the IP network. Those data centers are optimized for IP, requiring new skills for the operators and teams that run the data center facilities, Clauberg said.

SDN is key to building a software-defined operator. SDN requires open standards, not just software from a single vendor, Clauberg said.

"Open interfaces for me are really the key. [The software-defined operator] doesn't work with vendor lock-in," Clauberg said. Going forward, the Open Compute Project will play a big role in software-defined operators, bringing the open source software model into hardware. (See Facebook in Production Testing of Open 'Wedge' Switch.)

And the open model also needs to be extended into applications. "Every application vendor wants to bring its own orchestrator. You end up with a zoo of orchestrators," he said. Open source will help standardize orchestrators.

Looking forward, the network itself is becoming a service, driven by operators' customers demand for faster deployments, Clauberg said. "Customers don't want to wait to get new service," he said. Customers want new service in "minutes, not months." He called this model the "Third Network," or "network-as-a-service."

The transition to network-as-a-service requires a change in development model. Previously developers worked with a "waterfall" process, but now operators are moving to a DevOps model, where developers are responsible for operations as well. Organizations will need a couple of years to make that transition, requiring employee retraining in new skills -- IP, data center programming, as well as operations skills.

"You will fail in an agile world if you use waterfall processes," he said.

Need to know more about the management of network assets and applications in an SDN and NFV environment? Then check out the agenda for OSS in the Era of SDN & NFV: Evolution vs Revolution, November 6, at the Thistle Marble Arch Hotel, London

Software-defined operators make new demands on vendors, which need to stop protecting their legacy and accelerate the new software model. But that doesn't mean abandoning hardware development -- software-defined operators still require high-performance hardware for their networks, Clauberg said.

Clauberg also discussed the vision of the software-defined operator earlier this year, including at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event in June. He said all technologies must be sacrificed if they don't simplify networks in service of the transformation to software defined operator. (See Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator, Nothing Is Sacred, DT's Clauberg Tells BTE and Deutsche Telekom: A Software-Defined Operator.)

— 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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