Colt Blames Vendors for NFV Holdups

CHICAGO -- Big Telecom Event -- Colt Technology Services has blamed vendors' unwillingness to adapt their commercial practices for the holdup on its deployment of NFV technologies.

Speaking on a panel at this week's Big Telecom Event in Chicago, Nicolas Fischbach, Colt Technology Services Group Ltd 's director of strategy, architecture and innovation, accused vendors of being too attached to commercial models that are hindering the adoption of emerging virtualization technologies.

"Lots of them want hard commitments year over year but nobody is willing to do that right now because six months from now the NFV solution you picked might be old and you'll want another one," he told attendees. "The thing stopping us from deploying a next-generation virtual CPE is purely commercial."

Colt is seen as a pioneer in the field of NFV and SDN, having previously teamed up with Accedian , Cyan Inc. and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) on the deployment of a virtual CPE, but it appears to have hit something of a roadblock. (See Colt Bigs Up the Benefits of Virtual CPE .)

During last week's TM Forum event in Nice, France, Mirko Voltolini, Colt's vice president of technology and architecture, was similarly critical of NFV vendors. (See Telecom Italia Warns of Virtualized Silos Risk.)

Colt had been stopped from moving to a standardized, multivendor solution by the pricing practices of its technology suppliers, said Voltolini. "We've done a PoC [proof of concept] over the last nine months and are ready to go into production … but it's hard for vendors to come up with the right business model from a pricing perspective," he explained.

Fischbach's comments at the Big Telecom Event clearly echo those concerns and suggest that operators and vendors have yet to find common ground on the sale of NFV technologies.

Nor was Fischbach the only panelist to express concern on this front.

Prodip Sen, the chief technology officer of HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ)'s NFV business unit, said he had encountered the same problem during his time as director of network architecture for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which he left in June last year to join Hewlett-Packard.

"We really liked one vendor and had done some back-of-the-envelope calculations but when we asked the vendor for pricing details they quoted old terms that blew the business case out of the water," he said.

Sen did insist that vendors are trying to help operators eliminate unnecessary duplication and improve efficiency through "decomposition" of the various network functions.

However, by giving Colt more options, that approach appears to have led to additional friction between the operator and some of its suppliers.

"We are trying to be pragmatic and have already decomposed a lot of things but last year a lot of vendors complained we were spending less," he said. "We didn't spend less but we spent with more players."

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Operators besides Colt are keen on pursuing a multivendor strategy when it comes to NFV, but several have recently expressed concern that NFV products from different vendors may not be interoperable.

During last week's TM Forum event, Telecom Italia (TIM) issued a warning that virtualized silos could emerge unless there is swifter progress on standardization and interoperability.

The UK's BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has also emphasized the importance of interoperability to its NFV and SDN strategy. (See BT Predicts SDN/NFV Vendor 'Shake-Out'.)

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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