Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been unable to meet the NFV needs of national European operator Swisscom, which is now seeking an additional virtualization partner to put its NFV plans back on track, according to reliable industry sources with knowledge of the situation.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has been the major technology partner for the Swiss operator's enterprise virtual CPE (vCPE) rollout, announcing its involvement in February this year. (See HPE Lands NFV, PCRF Deals.)
But some of the vendor's technology has failed to live up to expectations, forcing Swisscom to seek a new partner that can deliver a more suitable NFV platform, according to Light Reading's sources, though this has been officially denied by both the operator and vendor.
A "Swiss miss" would be a hammer blow to HPE's NFV aspirations, as the vendor's virtualization team also failed to deliver at Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) in late 2015. (See Telefónica Ditches HPE as Virtualization Lead.)
It's also another reminder that NFV is tough to implement in the real world: The advantages have been identified and talked about for years but successful commercial deployments are still few and far between.
The situation in Switzerland appears similar to the vendor's flop at Telefónica, where HPE promised a carrier-class solution but was replaced within months.
So what's the deal at Swisscom? HPE was selected by the operator earlier this year to deliver multiple NFV-related systems -- Virtualized Infrastructure Manager, its flavor of OpenStack, Virtual Services Router, Service Director plus consulting and integration services -- to support the operator's vCPE strategy, but the operator is now said to be seeking a new key supplier and integrator, though it plans to retain some individual HPE NFV applications.
According to the sources, who requested anonymity, key elements of HPE's NFV package have failed to live up to the operator's carrier-class expectations and the Swisscom technology team is now working to find a suitable replacement. Like many operators, Swisscom wants to work with one prime supplier partner for its virtualization deployments rather than try to integrate hardware and software from multiple suppliers itself: In this instance, though, it looks like HPE will end up being a junior supplier to whichever company is brought in as the prime partner.
Officially, Swisscom maintains that all is well. "There are no plans to replace HPE as the key provider of technology and support/integration services for Swisscom's virtual CPE deployment. The partnership with HPE remains unchanged," a spokesman for the operator tells Light Reading.
UPDATE: Heinz Herren, CTO/CIO, Swisscom, and David Sliter, VP and GM, Communications Solutions Business, at HPE, emailed a joint statement to Light Reading: "The relationship between HPE and Swisscom remains unchanged; HPE continues to serve as a key vendor for Swisscom's vCPE implementation and we intend to build on that partnership moving forward. We will further develop the joint vCPE solution together, including HPE Aruba zero touch provisioning networking solutions planned for production early 2017. So far our joint collaboration and innovation has been a success."
Another NFV disappointment is not what HPE needs right now: Following some major corporate restructuring and the sale of business units, HPE is increasingly relying on next-gen cloud/virtualization deals with major telcos and enterprises to remain competitive.
But the wheels seem to be coming off HPE's NFV bus. The earlier rejection by Telefónica had already raised major question marks about its ability to deliver carrier-class NFV capabilities, while the vendor's reputation has taken another blow following the recent revelation by SDxCentral that its lead NFV executive and figurehead, Saar Gillai, is preparing to leave the business.
So which companies could Swisscom turn to for help with its vCPE program? Having strong professional services and integration capabilities will be key for any new partner.
No doubt the Swiss team will have put a call into their peers at Telefónica to find out if Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), which replaced HPE as the Spanish operator's NFV lead partner, is delivering the goods.
Swisscom already has some experience of the Swedish vendor's NFV capabilities, as its mobile networks team has been working with Ericsson to introduce SDN, NFV and cloud capabilities for its next-gen mobile core. (See Swisscom Picks Ericsson for Telco Cloud, NFV.)
And Ericsson would also be able to bring its best buddy, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), along for the ride, should it have anything in its armory that might help Swisscom's cause. (See Cisco + Ericsson: From Soup to Nuts.)
Other potential NFV partners offering a virtualization and integration combo include Huawei, NEC and Nokia.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading