NICE, France -- Management World 2013 -- Amdocs has taken what must be an inevitable step for all major Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) vendors by virtualizing a number of its key products.
The company announced here in Nice that it has developed virtualized versions (that run on standard off-the-shelf IT platforms) of its Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF), Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and Subscriber Data Broker.
The company says the approach is "characterised by distributed software architecture, self-contained application clusters with no scale limitations, and no dependency on centralised session/state storage" and is designed for "easy expansion, operation and in-service upgrades."
Shannon Bell, director of sales and business development at Amdocs' data experience business, says the virtualized PCRF has been put through an internal test program and will be part of a commercial release later this quarter.
In terms of customer engagement, "we are at early stages of planning for lab trials that will take place with operators in the coming months. We don't anticipate operator field trials until end of this year or early 2014."
Bell notes that Amdocs has been working closely with VMware Inc. as its hypervisor partner on the initial release of its virtualization offering but that the relationship is not exclusive.
Why this matters
The news that Amdocs is adopting this strategy is not surprising or unexpected -- other PCRF vendor such as Tekelec are doing the same. (See Policy Control: Preparing for a Virtual Makeover?)
But that doesn't make it any less significant, as vendors such as Amdocs need to be pressing ahead with such developments right now if they're to meet the requirements of the Tier 1 operators that are pressing hard for network functions virtualization (NFV) capabilities. (See MW13: NFV Picks Up Speed.)
As Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Gabriel Brown notes in Amdocs' official announcement, "control plane applications, such as policy servers, subscriber databases, and IMS, will be among the first virtualized 4G core functions to be implemented in commercial mobile networks … By starting with the control plane, operators are able to establish new architectures and networking models that will incorporate more virtualized applications in the future, and in time play a role in broader telecom cloud and software-defined network strategies."
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading