VMware is making a big splash this week in Barcelona, intending to redefine itself as a key strategic partner to the telecom industry in delivering new services, increasing revenue and streamlining operations.
The virtualization giant is reaching well beyond its traditional role in data center infrastructure and even its growing status as a provider of network functions virtualization infrastructure and management to become a major player across the telco value chain. That point is being driven home in Barcelona via an explosion of product announcements and product demos, a keynote by VMware Inc. CEO Pat Gelsinger, and an onsite hackathon with Intel and Cloudify that will feature virtual network function onboarding by more than 30 VNF vendors.
Chief among the product announcements is VMware vCloud NFV 2.0, the next generation of its NFV platform, combining NFVi, virtual infrastructure managers (VIM), VNFs and NFV orchestration, and offering open interfaces that the company says allow for choice of vendor for each element. But there is also a major Internet of Things announcement with Harman that includes a connected car demo at MWC, and a managed services version of VMware AirWatch to enable network operators to offer enterprises a range of new services including device management, more easily. (See VMware Launches vCloud NFV 2.0, VMware Announces AirWatch as a Managed Service and VMware Teams with Harman on IoT.)
"The message we are bringing to market is about how we are helping telcos realize their potential," says Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of solutions for the Telco NFV Group at VMware, in an interview with Light Reading. "It goes from network transformation -- what we are doing in NFV -- but also how we are helping them drive new businesses and launching new services, updating our IoT strategy with new partnerships and introducing a set of offerings that allow telcos to create and launch new business services, like mobile device management, end point management, all the way to private cloud buildout."
Di Piazza says VMware considers itself uniquely positioned to help network operators "address some of the core business issues they are facing in terms of how to lower cost of ownership and make the network more agile to produce services and grow the top line.
"We are moving from an IT supplier to more a 360-degree partner with telcos where we believe software-defining their cloud network data center is fundamental to their progression," he says.
One network service provider is already on board -- CenturyLink last week announced an expansion of what it calls a "strategic relationship" with VMware to speed up cloud adoption by its enterprise customers and make more software-defined networking capabilities available to those same customers. (See CenturyLink Deepens Ties to VMWare.)
"We are doubling down in terms of how CenturyLink and VMWare work together," David Shacochis, vice president of Cloud Ecosystem, CenturyLink, tells Light Reading in an interview. "CenturyLink is already one of the largest public clouds in the world that use VMware technology as its underpinning enabler. CenturyLink is also one of the largest private cloud service providers based around VMware technology and we are going to continue to work together around VMware's software-defined data center vision."
The VMware software-defined data center reference architecture "is a real key enabler for us," he adds. CenturyLink sees VMware as key to getting a software-defined data center reference architecture "stood up in a seamless, automated way, that work on many different platforms" including the traditional hosted platforms that exist today but also bare metal service offerings that CenturyLink is developing and that VMware is developing with Amazon Web Services.
One of the roles VMware sees for itself, says Di Piazza, is helping telecom operators navigate the complexities of hybrid cloud platforms, which bridge the public and private space. In that realm, VMware can offer additional end-to-end capabilities because of its established position in the enterprise realm, he says.
"The fact that we have a very large installed base in enterprises around the world means that our customers who are offering services to enterprises -- large, small, medium -- are consistently finding enterprises which have a large use of VMWare technology," he says. "They have commonality, they know how to operate and they are demanding leverage of VMware technology."
The opportunity exists to deliver end-to-end security, policy management and micro-segmentation, controlling movement and prioritization of work flows, that benefits the enterprise customer and opens up new service opportunities for operators, he says.
In announcing the vCloud NFV 2.0 platform, VMware is also touting its market power, given its position in more than 45 carriers with 80 production implementations, ranging from IMS to mobile core to security to virtual CPE, he says.
Among the key capabilities is an acceleration of service creation, onboarding and deployment capabilities including automated importing of existing VNF workloads into VMware Integrated OpenStack. In addition, the vCloud NFV 2.0 enables multi-tenancy in the network, compute and storage realms, with security baked in from the outset, Di Piazza says.
There are new levels of automated operations management and carrier-grade availability as well, all intended to reinforce VMware's intention to be a major long-term player in the telecom space.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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