NFV Tests & Trials

Telefónica: SDN Vendors Need to Interoperate

CHICAGO -- International Telecoms Week -- Telefónica has been one of the most aggressive operators when it comes to NFV and SDN, but at least one of the carrier's executives isn't quite convinced either technology is ready for prime time. (See Telefónica Unveils Aggressive NFV Plans.)

Telefónica 's Global Solutions division, which serves 600 wholesale customers and 500 multinational corporations (MNCs), has a plan when it comes to SDN -- wait and see what its customers are asking for. And, according to Eduardo Guardincerri Ortola, vice president of services development and planning for the carrier, they are not asking for SDN.

In an interview this week in Chicago, Ortola said that his customers are asking Telefónica to speed up delivery of services and institute bandwidth flexibility. Yes, SDN is the simple answer to these questions even if these customers aren't asking for it by name, but he believes the technology is still three to five years away from maturity. (See Telefónica Looks to SDN for Network Flexibility.)

"We are trying to find out what the customer really wants," Ortola said, adding that SDN is still very immature. Part of the hold-up that's impeding both SDN and NFV is that all the vendors are presenting him with proprietary stories, he said. Vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) are so embroiled in competition that they have no interconnection between them.

"Everyone is telling you it's open source and so on, but when you go deep, you see there's not real interconnection between them," Ortola said. "We know what we're talking about. We're in the middle of a proof of concept and have to use HP and Alcatel-Lucent, and they are not [inter]working. It's that simple."

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The proof of concept (PoC) Ortola is referring to is in partnership with HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) to virtualize three functions in one that sit between the data center and MPLS network. Those include network address translation (NAT) services, security via the firewall and the customer premise equipment (CPE). The results of this PoC will determine what Telefónica decides to do next, he said. As it is today, Telefónica finds itself having to provision the same MPLS circuit three or four times, and he wants to reduce this to one. (See Telefónica Taps HP for Unica NFV.)

Is it also working on another PoC with Netcracker Technology Corp. to see if Telefónica can build a full-stack IP system along with the BSS/OSS needed to orchestrate services. What the carrier is hoping to prove out with Netcracker is if IT can really interact with a virtual network to provision new services from BSS to OSS to the function. (See Telefónica Selects NetCracker for Massive BSS Transformation.)

Ortola stressed the importance of any new virtualized system being able to work with legacy equipment as well. He praised HP for its flexibility in running other companies' software or orchestrators, even if it doesn't interwork with its competitors. They're more open than Cisco at least, he said. That said, Ortola recognizes that it's not just a vendor problem -- Telefónica still has work to do on SDN and NFV as well. (See HP's NFV Director Merges Physical, Virtual.)

"We are always saying it's not just the technology; it's the change of the mindset of people that operate our network," Ortola added. "We're not going to be a specialist in equipment boxes, but in software. It's not going to happen like this."

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

Roz Rose 5/12/2015 | 12:41:18 PM
Re: Really? I've recently done some research on telcos' perceptions on "open" and they are still quite skeptical of vendors' claims on openness. It's helpful for TF to call this out publicly. Telcos need to keep the pressure on.
melao2 5/12/2015 | 12:35:21 PM
Re: Really? Didn't you like that Telefonica was calling names? :)
sarahthomas1011 5/12/2015 | 12:18:37 PM
Re: Really? Thought it was interesting to hear the most aggressive operator in NFV and SDN say his vendors weren't open enough (even ranking HP above Cisco) and that the tech it's championing is still five years away from reality.
sowen557 5/12/2015 | 12:14:35 PM
Really? Revelation statement from Telefonica.  Interoperate?
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