The TM Forum unveiled its blueprint today for transforming network operations to support the telecom industry's move to virtualization. The plan's focus is on enabling more rapid deployment of new services by automating the provisioning process.
Ken Dilbeck, vice president of strategic programs for the TM Forum , told us that the Zero-touch, Orchestration, Operations and Management (ZOOM) project is an effort to step back and take a broader look at where operations support and billing support systems need to be in the long run as part of the adoption of network functions virtualization (NFV).
"We decided that, if we only focus on the migration steps of how to get from where we are today to where we think we need to go, we could lose out on the full benefits of network virtualization," Dilbeck said. Using feedback from the major operators behind ZOOM, the Forum is instead looking at what a virtualized network operation would be if it were built from the ground up as a greenfield deployment.
In particular, network operators view NFV as an enabling technology for automating back-office processes and getting services to market at Internet speeds. Without accomplishing those goals, NFV adoption won't be successful.
The operators driving this particular effort include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Telecom Italia (TIM) . They are joined by technology companies such as Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL).
ZOOM is intended to define the forum's vision for a virtualized operations environment and to define the architecture needed to support that environment. That will include helping service providers rethink their business and operations practices, Dilbeck said, since those must change along with the systems and software. "They need to be learning from IT groups, and the things they have been successful doing in the datacenter environment, and leveraging what has been learned from moving to virtualization there."
One of the things that ZOOM intends to do is draw in thought leaders from service providers, software providers, industry standards groups, and entities outside the telecom industry -- he calls them "disruptive technologists" -- to share their thinking about what the new architecture should look like and should be able to accomplish.
"We are actually asking [participating] companies to bring someone with experience in IT virtualization, as well as another person with experience in network virtualization," Dilbeck said. "We want to get both perspectives."
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading