BALTIMORE -- MEF 16 -- Fujitsu is taking a new approach to helping its service provider customers embrace virtualization, offering consulting services to help network operators knit together multivendor SDN and NFV solutions, regardless of whether they contain Fujitsu network technology.
The SDN/NFV Solutions Practice is aimed primarily at Tier 2 and smaller carriers and starts at the very beginning with their business objectives, says Ralph Santitoro, head of the Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. practice, and a long-time MEF figure, now a MEF Distinguished Fellow. In an interview with Light Reading here, he says the effort is totally separate from Fujitsu's equipment sales and promises objective recommendations.
"It's a complicated puzzle for many service providers and, other than the big guys, they don't have the expertise to figure it out," Santitoro says. "In many companies, the folks trying to sort through the whole SDN/NFV have fulltime 'day jobs' running the IT shop or the back office, so this represents extra work for them."
What Fujitsu's SDN/NFV Solutions Practice will do is start with the business objective -- say, a company wants to process orders faster or bring new services to market quicker -- and then work through how virtualization can be implemented to accomplish that goal.
When it comes to vendor selections, the practice doesn't push particular solutions or vendors, he says. "We don't pitch our own products -- we will pull in business unit if it looks like it's a fit," Santitoro comments. "We work with our customers -- they may already have a preferred vendor or they may want us to tell them how what Fujitsu does fits in. But we don't push any particular vendors."
Instead, he says, the practice is establishing an ecosystem of partners "based on flexibility and capabilities," using companies with which it has worked in the past, Santitoro comments. Ultimately, it could have essentially an app store of vendors and their virtualized network functions, but "it's very early days for that," he says.
Among the jobs the Fujitsu SDN/NFV Solutions Practice will tackle is figuring out how a solution is orchestrated and how it fits into the existing back office systems of a specific service provider. Because of the level of customization the practice brings to this consulting work, Santitoro doesn't see his new effort competing with major systems integrators, however, but taking on individual company challenges.
"We are trying to solve their specific problems," he says. "We can offer them a palette of choices, and support their multivendor solutions."
The practice builds on Fujitsu's long-time integration and professional services efforts, something most telecom equipment vendors have built up over time, usually around their own networking gear. In this instance, the equipment sales piece is extracted, although Santitoro admits many of the practice customers know of Fujitsu because they have been customers in the past.
There is greater urgency among smaller operators to begin a virtualization journey, as they are being pushed to respond more quickly to a new generation of customers who expect things to be available on-demand. "The sense of urgency varies," Santitoro says. "There are some smaller carriers that can't yet spell SDN. But everyone wants greater automation so they can respond to customers more quickly, so sometimes that's where we start with them."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading