Huawei has stepped up its NFV game with the launch of a lab in Xi'an, west China.
The NFV Open Lab, which formally opened its doors last week, is aimed at providing an NFV testbed for all comers. Initial collaborators include China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), RedHat China and HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ).
Radoaca Vasile, head of NFV integration architecture for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , said the company is spending $5 million on the initial buildout of the lab and has set aside up to $30 million for the next phase.
Huawei lists multi-vendor interoperability, integration complexity and O&M optimization as some of the issues the lab will grapple with. But it is also planning to build platforms that will help enable NFV management, such as for multi-vendor verification and big data analysis.
Vasile says Xi'an was chosen as the facility site because Huawei already has 10,000 researchers there working on IT-related projects. The NFV lab has just 30 or so full-time staff, but across the company Huawei has 500 engineers involved in NFV projects with more than 20 operators.
For Huawei, NFV, SDN and the cloud are part of its SoftCOM architecture for network operations. (See Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei.)
But the transition to the next-gen architecture also means a shift to a business model based around consulting and business integration rather than just selling gear. That's new territory for Huawei, Vasile acknowledges. (See Huawei Boasts 2014 Revenues of $46B.)
He says the open lab is a way of re-framing Huawei as a trusted integrator and consultant.
"Because there's so much complexity we need to create this trust relationship [with telcos]. Here they can see it, they can test it, they can prove it," he said. "If you look at the overall value of the solution, we believe that integration will be the big app for us. It's something that telcos can outsource. It will be a very interesting model."
Huawei expects large-scale commercial deployment of NFV solutions in 2016 and "wide commercial deployment" in 2017.
"What we want is to accelerate NFV acceptance," said Vasile. "All of this makes it happen. We can't wait another two years for [telcos] to come out with another field trial."
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading