On Tuesday June 9th, I presented at Light Reading’s Big Telecom Event and spoke about NFV in the mobile network. The event hosted a few thousand attendees for several hot Chicago days by the Lake and the NFV session was well attended.
NFV is a hot topic in the Carrier industry. According to Heavy Reading, nearly 50% of the Carriers said that they are currently testing NFV solutions in their networks and the other 50% claimed they are in active study on the topic. Carriers clearly see the value of the technology and its potential to both lower their costs by reducing their dependence on proprietary hardware (HW) solutions as well as provide them future agility to move from a network deployment model to a DevOps model. Christos Kolias from Orange Silicon Valley said that Orange is aggressively moving into virtualization and NFV for the agility to deploy new services particularly in areas where they do not have infrastructure today. He even went so far as to say they have already tested 4 different solutions for virtualizing the entire EPC.
There was a lot of discussion around how much improvement in time to market from NFV. Several Carriers have told me that 40% of their test cycle when deploying new services are around HW (time to order, ship, bolt down, commission, etc.) so NFV has the potential to almost double their speed in delivering new services. This has important implications in their ability to deliver new services faster and more accurately.
Let’s look at the Carrier model today. Carriers need to purchase HW for lab test followed by First Office Application (FOA) and then general deployment. This can typically take six months for a Carrier to fully validate a new service. A 40% reduction in this service introduction cycle can save 2.4 months, which can represent millions of dollars in new service revenue based on the faster time to market. In addition, a virtual solution can make the solution more flexible since new virtual services in the chain can be added or deleted more easily.
It was widely agreed that there is still work to be done on OSS/BSS and reliability and redundancy, but the feeling on the panel and in the audience is that NFV is coming out of the lab test environment and ready to move into the field for FOA moving to large scale deployments. The OSS/BSS work is around standardizing the APIs needed to get the equivalent billing and troubleshooting information for the Carriers’ higher level management systems (like OSMINE), that they already get in their HW based environment. This is an arduous process that may take years since many Carriers have home grown OSS/BSS systems.
Each carrier is developing their own roadmap and timeline for OSS/BSS based on their business cases. All in all, the mood was exciting that NFV has represented the biggest opportunity to remake carrier networks in the last few years. Get ready for accelerating news on NFV deployments for Carriers.