The TM Forum is expanding the range of the hands-on technology demos it calls Catalyst projects, and is focusing more than half of the 21 new efforts on orchestrating network functions virtualization. The global network management organization will announce the new Catalysts tomorrow, and will debut them in June at TMForum Live in Nice.
In addition to NFV, which is involved in 11 of the 20 projects, the TM Forum is also heavily focused on the Internet of Things, the subject of seven projects. Each of the Catalysts is sponsored by at least one network operator, and generally involves multiple hardware and software vendors in a real-world demo. AT&T is taking a leadership role here, as the company is sponsoring or co-sponsoring at least one third of the 21 projects including at least five related to network management and orchestration of NFV or cloud-based services.
All of the NFV Catalysts are focused on verifying ideas about management and orchestration that will enable the technology to get to commercial deployment more quickly, says Carl Piva, VP of strategic programs at the TM Forum.
"We have moved beyond establishing foundational knowledge to becoming more practical, to getting things adopted more easily," he tells Light Reading.
For example, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is sponsoring a Catalyst on using NFV orchestration to maximize profitability, and AT&T, Orange (NYSE: FTE) and KDDI Corp. are co-sponsoring one on end-to-end automated management of hybrid networks. A third project involves AT&T, Telecom Italia (TIM) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) in a demo of how to transform and simplify operations using virtual CPE.
TM Forum is also more actively engaged with other organizations, namely the MEF and European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) , both whom are actively promoting new efforts to build industry consensus around management of virtual and legacy networks. The MEF is joining with PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) and Charter Communications Inc. on a Catalyst that will demonstrate self-ordering capabilities for Carrier Ethernet service as part of an automated process across both physical and virtual infrastructure.
That effort stems from MEF's Third Network initiative, Piva notes. Another Catalyst builds on standards work by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) , ETSI, and NGNM to demonstrate what is being called "closing the loop" capabilities -- i.e., end-to-end automation -- of converged virtual-physical networks to deliver better customer experience management.
"We are getting to the place where we have been aiming from the Forum perspective to catalyze not just technology by our own initiatives those from different spaces, when people have a stake and interest in NFV," Piva says. "We are trying to do it in a very collaborative manner."
Yet another Catalyst, sponsored by AT&T, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Orange, is looking at the value and impact of dynamic security orchestration in an NFV environment. "What that Catalyst is actually doing is testing the ETSI security use cases published last year," Piva says. "That Catalyst is tightly linked to our collaboration theme, and we will learn a lot about whether this will work in a real environment."
One Catalyst will be looking at power consumption in the data center, enabling an automatic process that shifts workloads to the networked data center with the current lowest cost per kilowatt hour at a given time, he notes.
On the IoT front, the Forum has catalysts demonstrating smart city, smart energy, banking, connected car and digital health applications, among others. Other Catalyst topics include better connections for SMB customers, analytics and big data, and improving customer experience with multi-screen video.
All of the Catalysts will be featured in live demos at the Nice event June 2-4.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading