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Tier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDNTier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDN

Major telcos are collaborating on a joint-operator initiative into network virtualization that's closely related to SDN

October 22, 2012

3 Min Read
Tier 1 Carriers Tackle Telco SDN

A group of Tier 1 operators from Asia/Pacific, Europe and North America is set to announce a new industry initiative on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) at an industry event Oct. 23 in an effort to pin down exactly what the next generation of carrier networks might look like.

But while the initiative is to be launched at an event dedicated to the topic of software-defined networking (SDN), its members appear to be steering clear of that term -- at least for now.

The operators behind the initiative include (in alphabetical order):

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) Orange (NYSE: FTE) KDDI Corp. NTT Group (NYSE: NTT) Telecom Italia (TIM) Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)

The NFV proposition will be explained by Uwe Michel, a network architect at Deutsche Telekom, during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress in Darmstadt, Germany. The abstract for his short presentation states the following: "NFV aims to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, thus providing a new network production environment, which lowers cost, raises efficiency and increases agility. The IT and Telecom industries are invited to contribute their complementary expertise and resources to encourage common approaches for NFV."

That approach tallies with the new network vision laid out by Michel's colleague, Axel Clauberg, DT's vice president of IP Architecture and Design, earlier this year. That vision sees SDN protocols being deployed in data centers and access networks but not in telecom operator core networks. (See DT Unveils New Network Vision.)

Michel's presentation will be followed by a speech from BT's chief data networks strategist Peter Willis, titled "Network Functions Virtualization -- a key enabler in the evolution to SDNs."

It seems, then, that the major telcos are keen on exploring how the SDN approach can be applied to their future architectures while at the same time viewing their roadmap as being on a parallel track to the SDN revolution.

If that's the case, the likes of Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. should feel encouraged: The Swedish vendor has just called for a new definition of SDN that can be applied to the needs of communications service providers. (See SoftCOM: Huawei's Take on SDN and Ericsson CTO: Let's Redefine SDN.)

Others will be pleased, too: Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) , of which AT&T and Verizon are members, is set to announce an initiative to define carrier-grade SDN best practices. (See ATIS Weighs In on SDN Standards.)

Light Reading will be at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress event to report on the details of the NFV initiative, set the record straight and get industry reaction. And drink German beer.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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