August 16, 2013
The CloudNFV group lifted its veils this week, naming five vendors involved in its ecosystem, in addition to the CIMI Corp. consultancy headed by Tom Nolle.
The group has been very open about its approach, and now about its members, each of whom fulfills a different function. But its announcement is reason to review whether ecosystem creation and other forms of collaboration have become a key step in the development of new virtualization technology for the telecom network.
There are already other ecosystem efforts, such as Cyan Inc. 's Blue Orbit ecosystem focused on software defined networking and the Metaswitch Networks Project Clearwater, aimed at open collaboration around IMS for virtualized data centers; as well as the OpenDaylight effort around SDN. (See Cyan Builds an SDN Club, IMS Gets Some Open-Source Love, and What Open Daylight Really Wants to Do).
And those are in addition to the original collaborative efforts, OpenStack for virtualization and the Open Networking Foundation 's OpenFlow effort for SDNs. Oh, yeah, and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) network functions virtualization (NFV) working group.
All of these efforts, as well as individual vendor initiatives such as Alcatel-Lucent's Cloudband, are aimed at speeding deployment of disruptive virtualization technology, but at some point, do vendor ecosystems and collaborative efforts become competing efforts and self-defeating propositions?
It's all too easy to be cynical, once you've seen how well-meaning efforts to transform massive telecom networks always seem to come up short of their lofty goals. But I think there are clear indications that some the collaboration efforts we are seeing have a chance to put the pedal to the metal on virtualization, for a couple of key reasons.
Here's the first: There are clearly defined goals and deliverables for some groups -- I'd put CloudNFV at the top of this list. Its six vendors -- Overture Networks Inc. , Qosmos , EnterpriseWeb LLC , Dell Inc., 6WIND , and a vendor to be named later -- each is playing a specific role in delivering on an approach to NFV that is clearly laid out but the group collectively is promising to support open interfaces that prevent vendor lock-in.
Any group without similarly defined goals, an established timetable, and a commitment to openness becomes suspect.
The second key reason I think these ecosystem/collaboration efforts could pay off in delivering virtualization to market faster is that SDN/NFV touch every segment of the network and any effort to push forward without acknowledging that is doomed to failure. The alternative to collaboration among many different vendors is allowing a handful of large vendors to exercise control, and that approach, by definition, limits the freedom and threatens the openness of the final solutions.
Can these collaborative efforts become vendor promotional? Absolutely. Will all of them succeed, or accomplish what they have promised the market? Probably not, and likely there will be duplication of effort. But they stand a good chance of contributing to how virtualization ultimately plays out in the greater telecom network, and I doubt we've seen the last of them.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading
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