Author Archives: Gabriele Di Piazza

About Gabriele Di Piazza

Gabriele Di Piazza is vice president of solutions for VMware Telco Edge Cloud

Introducing Telco Cloud Automation

Accelerate network agility with VMware Telco Cloud Automation™

Today we announced VMware Telco Cloud Automation general availability (GA)—VMware’s next-generation telco cloud orchestrator (previously announced under the name, Project Maestro). VMware Telco Cloud Automation transforms the CSP’s telco cloud experience and delivers tremendous value through unified lifecycle management automation, multi-cloud agility and improved MANO interoperability.

Many communications service providers (CSPs) have set their sights set on the cloud in hopes of achieving operational agility, lower costs, and network resiliency while also delivering an exceptional service experience to their customers. However, the cloud is evolving quickly, both in terms of technology and multi-cloud expansion; and this doesn’t necessarily align with the traditional CSP’s carrier-grade technology adoption pattern. It’s a big shift that serves up new challenges in terms of learnings, growing complexity, and interoperability – especially as you bridge physical and virtual ecosystems. In a nutshell, as the cloud and networks evolve with containers, 5G and MEC, the challenge to contain operational costs will become increasingly more difficult. We are today at a crucial moment– and CSPs that build a foundation that enables them to innovate quickly and control their operational costs will have a distinct advantage over their current competitors and OTT players.

The good news is that CSPs can bypass much of the complexity with VMware Telco Cloud Automation, a new orchestrator that accelerates time to market for network functions and services while igniting operational agility through simplified automation—across any network and any cloud.

VMware Telco Cloud Automation

Figure 1: VMware Telco Cloud Automation

An orchestration and automation platform for the telco cloud

VMware started this journey back in 2016, by assessing the market and listening to customer requests.  Our findings were twofold. First, CSPs must implement orchestration and automation as soon as possible to improve efficiency and to ensure readiness for future cloud network innovations. Second, most of the MANO solutions on the market today are designed around telco vendors’ vantage points with traditional pros and cons (vendor lock-in, heavy integration costs, etc.).  These all share a fundamental flaw: none have fully taken advantage of the cloud’s capabilities over time, nor have they tapped into possibilities associated with the multi-cloud. To this end, we’re applying VMware cloud expertise and designed a new cloud-first approach to MANO, a strategy that abstracts much of the cloud complexities and exposes the new multi-cloud ecosystem through standard telco interfaces (following ETSI standards). At the very heart of this approach is VMware’s ability to build native integrations at each layer and to continuously synchronize the bottom infrastructure stack (VIM/NFVI) with the upper MANO stack (NFVO/VNFM).

This new approach allows the service and application layers to be cloud/multi-cloud aware and to leverage all available data centers as a shared pool of resources. It also enables more savvy policy/placement decisions that avoid rollbacks, a major problem in most of today’s MANO implementations.

Figure 2: Difference between traditional blueprint-first and VMware new cloud-first approach

By applying this cloud-first philosophy combined with a standards-based and a network function vendor-neutral position, VMware Telco Cloud Automation helps CSPs to:

  • Orchestrate and automate network functions/services with multi-cloud agility from the core to the edge, and from private to public cloud.
  • Unify the management of network functions of any vendor on VM-based and Container-based infrastructures (ETSI standard-compliant VNF/CNF/PNF).
  • Streamline the orchestration journey with native VIM integrations and a pluggable architecture following ETSI-MANO standards.
  • Enable a thriving multi-vendor telco cloud ecosystem with standard interfaces and the certification of partner’s network functions from the NFVI to the NFVO.

Vetted by customers and partners

From day one, we have worked with customers and partners to create a product adapted to their needs. We are thankful to them for all the guidance provided and the time they’ve devoted to proof the product’s capabilities.

As a positive response, VMware is already engaged in Beta trials with several customers.  More notably, the platform is being rolled out in various Opcos of a large Tier 1 carrier, supporting its next-generation automation initiative. As part of that project, VMware Telco Cloud Automation manages the orchestration and automation of hundreds of network functions and services for both 4G and 5G networks – plus the implementation of new cloud-native 5G network services.

A fundamental aspect of any MANO solution is its ability to evolve in a multi-vendor ecosystem. As an infrastructure provider for many years, VMware already has a robust group of VNF partners certified on its technology (150+ VNFs certified from all major equipment providers).  And, as part of our Telco Cloud Automation efforts, we’ve worked with many of these partners to integrate their VNFs and now CNFs, including Affirmed Networks, Metaswitch, Altiostar, Mavenir, Altran, VeloCloud, and Avi Networks. The Ready for NFV Program, extended for VMware Telco Cloud Automation, will open soon after this announcement. Any partner can submit a certification request today and will be contacted once the certification program becomes available.

A closer look at the core capabilities and features provided with this version:

The core capabilities for VMware Telco Cloud Automation can be grouped into four areas:

  • Generic VNF Management (G-VNFM) unifies and standardizes network function management across physical (PNF), VM (VNF) and Container-based (CNF) infrastructures.
  • NFV/Domain Orchestration (NFVO) simplifies the design and management of centralized and distributed multi-vendor network services (chaining PNF/CNF/VNF).
  • Multi-Cloud Infrastructure Management abstracts cloud complexity, eases VIM registration, synchronizes inventories/resources, and collects faults and performance from infrastructure to network functions.
  • Policy and Placement engine enables intent-based and multi-cloud workload/policy placements from the network core to edge, and from private to public clouds.

Figure 3: VMware Telco Cloud Automation & multi-VIM integrations

A set of features to simplify and transform network operations 

  • Native VIM/Kubernetes integrations. VMware Telco Cloud Automation integrates natively with VMware vCloud NFV 2.1/3.2.1/3.3 (vCD/OpenStack editions), VMware Cloud (VMC) 1.9, VMware Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) Cluster API 1.16 (w/ Helm support for resource description).
  • Multi-cloud, multi-VIM registration. The multi-VIM registration process allows CSP to easily add multiple VIMs to Telco Cloud Automation. Through its local VIM distributed component, it auto-discovers all required VIM/tenant configurations without needing API integration or complex commands to execute.

Figure 4: Multi-cloud – multi-VIM

Figure 5: Simplified VIM registration

  • Continuous VIM synchronization. Once registered, the VIM automatically synchronizes with Telco Cloud Automation, providing real-time information about its configurations, state, faults/performance (FM/PM) and inventories – from resources (CPU, storage, memory, etc.) to network, deployed VMs and network functions.
  • Single pane of glass. The orchestrator lets you view all elements of your telco cloud in a centralized location, from network services and network functions to the cloud virtual infrastructure. CSPs can quickly assess the state of all components and their performance, and trigger automatic actions to remediate identified issues.

Figure: 6: Telco Cloud 360° awareness

  • Access all network functions and services in a single location. The centralized catalogs offer access to all onboarded network functions (PNF/CNF/VNF) including those onboarded using VMware Telco Cloud Automation and others managed through third-party S-VNFM (see southbound integrations). Similarly, all onboarded network services are available in a centralized catalog.
  • Easily onboard any network function and service. VMware Telco Cloud Automation enables onboarding of SOL001/004-compliant network functions and services. Once onboarded, the network functions and services are added to their respective catalogs for review and instantiation. Note that the VMware Ready for NFV program lets VNF partners certify VNFD and package on VMware vCloud NFV and VMware Telco Cloud Automation.
  • Design network functions and services through an easy-to-use visual composer. The visual composer provides an end-to-end environment to design new or modify existing ETSI-MANO compliant TOSCA templates. The network function template integrates elements such as VDU/HELM, network, resources, automation interfaces, and other artifacts. Similarly, network services can chain network functions from different vendors and technologies (VNF/CNF/PNF). In parallel to the design, the solution generates a YAML source file as part of the package that can be further edited. Once saved, the ETSI compliant package is automatically onboarded or can be downloaded.

Figure 7: VNF/CNF onboarding and design

Figure 8: TOSCA-template network service visual composer (also available for CNF/VNF design)

  • Customize automation processes. VMware extends ETSI-MANO standard automation capabilities with custom workflows enabled through interfaces. Telco Cloud Automation integrates natively with VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO) to trigger—and simplify—the design of new custom workflows. CSPs can also easily reuse any existing VNF workflows created through vRO.
  • Intent-based placement. Continuous synchronization between Telco Cloud Automation and the VIM enables effective intent-based placement. Telco Cloud Automation automatically optimizes workload placement on the most suitable cloud, matching the descriptor requirements with the cloud profiles. These cloud profiles include available resources, networks and VIM-specific capabilities (e.g., SR-IOV, DPDK, etc.).
  • Distribute workload placements. The orchestrator lets CSPs take full advantage of their multi-cloud ecosystem, distributing workloads among multiple clouds. As part of the network service instantiation process, CSPs can assign clouds in similar or different locations, and each network functions part of the service. The right transport network is then assigned to provide connectivity across sites.
  • Hybrid cloud placements. CSPs can now take advantage of public clouds as an alternate set of resources. Telco Cloud Automation allows for workload placement and mobility across both private and public clouds such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google (via VMware VMC).

Figure 9: Multi-cloud and hybrid placement

  • Automate lifecycle management. The orchestrator offers automation capabilities driven by a policy engine that executes standard closed-loop policies described in VNFD and NSD, plus custom defined workflows. These policies apply to the entire lifecycle management (day 0; day 1; day 2 operations – instantiate, heal, scale, update, etc.) of network functions and services for lean operational processes. They also remove complicated, tedious and repetitive tasks while maximizing overall resource utilization through dynamic scaling and multi-cloud workload mobility.
  • Auto-action operations. The orchestrator allows actions to be triggered from various decision points including NFVO, G-VNFM and Element Manager.
  • Tailored governance. Telco Cloud Automation combines multi-tenancy and role-based access control to enable a tailored governance model. The multi-tenancy allows the isolation of network functions and services to specific group(s) (and/or Opcos) while the roles-based access control enables data and operation segregations (e.g., NFVO, VNFM, VNF Designer, Voice VNF Manager, etc.). These governance capabilities apply to both GUI and API interactions.

A product that speaks telco and cloud

VMware Telco Cloud Automation supports core ETSI-MANO guidelines for telco component interoperability and leverages native integration with VIM and Kubernetes for northbound interfaces (e.g., placement, KPI collection, etc.). This architecture provides a streamlined and flexible approach for orchestrating telco standards-compliant workloads on a fast-evolving multi-cloud ecosystem. CSPs can interact with telco standards and allow Telco Cloud Automation to translate the requirements in cloud capabilities.

Telco standardized interfaces facilitate Telco Cloud Automation deployment and interactions within a multi-vendor MANO architecture. Here’s a list of supported interfaces:

  • VNF descriptor definition and package IFA011/SOL001 and IFA014/SOL004
  • S-VNFM integration to NFVO through IFA007/SOL003
  • EMS integration to G-VNFM and NFVO through IFA008/SOL002
  • Service Orchestrator/Service Assurance/OSS/BSS integrations to NFVO through IFA013/SOL005 and relevant TMF API’s

Figure 10: Southbound interfaces

Northbound VIM interfaces are supported by Telco Cloud Automation through native integrations with VMware vCloud NFV 2.1/3.2.1/3.3 – (vCloud Director and VMware Integrated OpenStack editions), VMware Cloud (VMC) 1.9, and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid (TKG) – Cluster API 1.16 (w/ Helm support for resource description).

Accelerate the network transformation journey while controlling operational costs

CSPs switching to the network cloud can now do so with great ease thanks to VMware Telco Cloud Automation. Its broad feature set simplifies and expands your capabilities, delivering consistency from infrastructure to network services. The latest addition to VMware’s growing cloud portfolio, VMware Telco Cloud Automation empowers CSPs with a solution that streamlines the orchestration journey, enables a thriving multi-vendor ecosystem and delivers the multi-cloud agility that modern networks require.

Learn more about VMware Telco Cloud Automation, the new telco cloud orchestrator for CSPs brought to you by VMware:

Innovation at the Telco Edge


Imagine watching the biggest football game of the year being streamed to your Virtual Reality headset, and just as your team is about to score, your VR headset freezes due to latency in the network, and you miss the moment!

While this may be a trivial inconvenience, there are other scenarios that can have serious consequential events such as a self-driving car not stopping at a stop sign because of high latency networks.

The rapid growth of applications and services such as Internet of Things, Vehicle to Everything communications and Virtual Reality is driving the massive growth of data in the network that will demand real-time processing at the edge of the network closer to the user that will deliver faster speeds and reduced latency when compared to 4G LTE networks.

Edge computing will be critical in ensuring that low-latency and high reliability applications can be successfully deployed in 4G and 5G networks.

For CSPs, deploying a distributed cloud architecture where compute power is pushed to the network edge, closer to the user or device, offers improved performance in terms of latency, jitter, and bandwidth and ultimately a higher Quality of Experience.

Delivering services at the edge will enable CSPs to realize significant benefits, including:

  • Reduced backhaul traffic by keeping required traffic processing and content at the edge instead of sending it back to the core data center
  • New revenue streams by offering their edge cloud premises to 3rd party application developers allowing them to develop new innovative services
  • Reduced costs with the optimization of infrastructure being deployed at the edge and core data centers
  • Improved network reliability and application availability

Edge Computing Use Cases

According to a recent report by TBR, CSP spend on Edge compute infrastructure will grow at a 76.5% CAGR from 2018 to 2023 and exceed $67B in 2023.  While AR/VR/Autonomous Vehicle applications are the headlining edge use cases, many of the initial use cases CSPs will be deploying at the edge will focus on network cost optimization, including infrastructure virtualization, real estate footprint consolidation and bandwidth optimization. These edge use cases include:

Mobile User Plane at the Edge

A Control Plane and User Plane Separation (CUPS) architecture delivers the ability to scale the user plane and control plane independent of each other.  Within a CUPS architecture, CSPs can place user plane functionality closer to the user thereby providing optimized processing and ultra-low latency at the edge, while continuing to manage control plane functionality in a centralized data center.  An additional benefit for CSPs is the reduction of backhaul traffic between the end device and central data center, as that traffic can be processed right at the edge and offloaded to the internet when necessary.

Virtual CDN

Content Delivery Network was one of the original edge use cases, with content cached at the edge to provide an improved subscriber user experience.  However, with the exponential growth of video content being streamed to devices, the scaling of dedicated CDN hardware can become increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.  With a Virtualized CDN (vCDN), CSPs can deploy capacity at the edge on-demand to meet the needs of peak events while maximizing infrastructure efficiency while minimizing costs.

Private LTE

Enterprise applications such as industrial manufacturing, transportation, and smart city applications have traditionally relied on Wi-Fi and fixed-line services for connectivity and communications.  These applications require a level of resiliency, low-latency and high-speed networks that cannot be met with existing network infrastructure. To deliver a network that can provide the flexibility, security and reliability, CSPs can deploy dedicated mobile networks (Private LTE) at the enterprise to meet the requirements of the enterprise.  Private LTE deployments includes all the data plane and control plane components needed to manage a scaled-out network where mobile sessions do not leave the enterprise premises unless necessary.

VMware Telco Edge Reference Architecture

Fundamentally, VMware Telco Edge is based on the following design principles:

  • Common Platform

VMware provides a flexible deployment architecture based on a common infrastructure platform that is optimized for deployments across the Edge data centers and Core data centers.  With centralized management and a single pane of glass for monitoring network infrastructure across the multiple clouds, CSPs will have consistent networking, operations and management across their cloud infrastructure.

  • Centralized Management

VMware Telco Edge is designed to have a centralized VMware Integrated OpenStack VIM at the core data center while the edge sites do not need to have any OpenStack instances.  With zero OpenStack components present at the Edge sites, CSPs will gain massive improvements in network manageability, upgrades, scale, and operational overhead. This centralized management at the Core data center gives CSPs access to all the Edge sites without having to connect to individual Edge sites to manage their resources.

  • Multi-tenancy and Advanced Networking

Leveraging the existing vCloud NFV design, the Telco Edge can be deployed in a multi-tenant environment with resource guarantees and resource isolation with each tenant having an independent view of their network and capacity and management of their underlying infrastructure and overlay networking. The Edge sites support overlay networking which makes them easier to configure and offers zero trust through NSX multi-segmentation.

  • Superior Performance

VMware NSX managed Virtual Distributed Switch in Enhanced Data Path mode (N-VDS (E)) leverages hardware-based acceleration (SR-IOV/Direct-PT) and DPDK techniques to provide the fastest virtual switching fabric on vSphere. Telco User Plane Functions (UPFs) that require lower latency and higher throughput at the Edge sites can run on hosts configured with N-VDS (E) for enhanced performance.

  • Real-time Integrated Operational Intelligence

The ability to locate, isolate and provide remediation capabilities is critical given the various applications and services that are being deployed at the edge. In a distributed cloud environment, isolating an issue is further complicated given the nature of the deployments.   The Telco Edge framework uses the same operational model as is deployed in the core network and provides the capability to correlate, analyze and enable day 2 operations.  This includes providing continuous visibility over service provisioning, workload migrations, auto-scaling, elastic networking, and network-sliced multitenancy that spans across VNFs, clusters and sites.

  • Efficient VNF onboarding and placement

Once a VNF is onboarded, the tenant admin deploys the VNF to either the core data center or the edge data center depending on the defined policies and workload requirements. VMware Telco Edge offers dynamic workload placement ensuring the VNF has the right number of resources to function efficiently.

  • Validated Hardware platform

VMware and Dell Technologies have partnered to deliver validated solutions that will help CSPs deploy a distributed cloud architecture and accelerate time to innovation.  Learn more about how VMware and Dell Technologies have engineered and created a scalable and agile platform for CSPs.

Learn More

Edge computing will transform how network infrastructure and operations are deployed and provide greater value to customers.  VMware has published a Telco Edge Reference Architecture that will enable CSPs to deploy an edge-cloud service that can support a variety of edge use cases along with flexible business models.

Learn more about VMware Telco and Edge Cloud solutions at

Also, check out our latest press release.

Delivering applications and services for a multi-cloud and 5G network with VMware vCloud NFV 3.0

Changing CSP Network Requirements

NFV objectives have evolved quite significantly from the initial need for CSPs to virtualize the infrastructure to being able to scale with technology, products, and services into new and adjacent markets.  There is acute focus on operational transformation with CSPs driving continuous innovation and rapid service deployment for 5G and IoT use cases.  Applications, services, and greater network intelligence is being deployed at the network edge to deliver higher QoE and security.

A key enabler of this transformation is the Telco Cloud – an operating model that leverages programmable networks, with NFV and SDN being key enablers.  With the ability to run a multitude of network functions on off-the-shelf servers, CSPs can provision and scale services faster and substantially reduce costs.

With its vision of delivering any application on any device on any cloud, VMware has extended its technology to cross every infrastructure boundary there is, from the data center into public and telco clouds, and the network edge supporting edge clouds and IoT devices.

VMware vCloud NFV – A platform for Multi-Cloud

At Mobile World Congress 2019, VMware has taken another step in the expansion of its vCloud NFV offerings, with the announcement of VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 vCloud Director Edition.

With support for VMware vCloud Director 9.5, the new release features key enhancements in NFV performance, secure multi-tenancy, networking, and multi-site operations, enabling Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to quickly scale and grow revenues while reducing cost and complexity.

VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 vCloud Director Edition

Enhancements in VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 help CSPs realize the true potential of distributed multi-cloud services through accelerated time to revenue leveraging NFV automation and service onboarding, lower infrastructure costs while delivering greater performance, and optimized operations for increased network efficiency and reduced operational costs.

Key capabilities provided with the VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 vCloud Director Edition include:

  • Secure Multi-tenancy and Enhanced RBAC – VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 includes support for vCloud Director 9.5 that implements a redesigned multi-tenant Role Based Access Controls (RBAC) model. The model allows CSP administrators to create Global Tenant Roles assigned to tenant users enabling self-service management without the need of service provider involvement. CSP administrators can also create rights bundles that correspond to tiers of service, separately monetizable functionality, or any other arbitrary rights grouping and make them available to various organizations.
  • Deterministic NFV Performance – VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 includes support for VMware NSX-T Data Center, which adds Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) based techniques to deliver accelerated data plane network performance with the new NSX Managed Virtual Distributed Switch (N-VDS) in Enhanced Data Path mode. Efficient separation of data plane functions from control and management plane functions enables CUPS based architectures while automated NUMA alignment, multi-tiered routing, bare-metal edges, and HugePages support enable increased workload performance while preserving the benefits of key vSphere functionalities like HA, vMotion, and DRS.
  • Efficient Multi-site Deployment – VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 enables CSPs to achieve the scale and manageability required to efficiently deploy and operate distributed multi-cloud deployments. It facilitates efficient cloud services management with the flexibility to deploy centralized VIM for a common management plane across sites or a distributed architecture with federated management. Decoupling NSX-T Data Center functionality from vCenter server enables cloud-scale performance using a distributed control plane architecture, while the separation of data plane workloads from control plane and management plane workloads enables CUPS-based scalable architectures.
  • Advanced Networking – VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 supports a range of new carrier-oriented networking capabilities through dual stack support for NSX-V and NSX-T. The vCloud NFV platform delivers increased network resiliency through fast link failure detection, ERSPAN port mirroring, and support for a broad category of workloads including container-based workloads, multi-cloud workloads, and PaaS platforms.
  • Intent-Based Service Assurance – VMware vCloud NFV 3.0 with support through vRealize Operations 7.0, vRealize Log Insight 4.7, and vRealize Network Insight 3.9, delivers a new paradigm in NFV operations with intent-based assurance that allows CSPs to define operational and business intent for the network and continuously verify performance against the defined intent through Day 0, Day 1 and Day 2 operations.

Evolution of Networking in vCloud NFV

Also announced this year at MWC 2019 is the release of VMware NSX Data Center 2.4.  CSPs need for highly scalable networks that are truly reliable is at an all-time high.

NSX-T Data Center is a core component of vCloud NFV providing the networking overlay support across the complete NFVI and supporting multiple telco-oriented use cases. New networking features now available in NSX Data Center are:

  • IPv6 Support: As business around the world ramp up IPv6 deployments, support for IPv6 in NSX-T meets a critical requirement of telco networks.
  • Scalability: NSX-T 2.4 can scale to hundreds of thousands of routes, over a thousand hosts per NSX domain, and enables high-scale multi-tenancy. 
  • High Availability: NSX-T 2.4 supports clustering with NSX managers, enabling a highly available management plane for GUI and API, reducing the likelihood of NSX operational failures.
  • Service Function Chaining: NSX-T 2.4 introduces the ability to perform Service Insertion and Service Function Chaining, through the IETF SFC framework and NSH, enabling CSPs to rapidly onboard, automate, and launch new services to meet dynamic subscriber demands
  • Container Networking and Cloud Native architectures: VMware is enhancing support for containers with enhanced visibility into all container and PaaS clusters that are supported by a NSX deployment, as well as visibility into all containerized applications supported by a NSX deployment.

VMware Ready for NFV

The VMware Ready for NFV program is a certification program that recognizes VNF partners that have made commitments to the vCloud NFV platform.  VMware Ready for NFV certified partners have completed a range of operability and interworking assessments in a dedicated accreditation facility and have access to VMware product roadmaps and solution development strategies in order to ensure their solutions continue to maximize the potential of the underlying vCloud NFV platform.  CSPs can look to the VMware Ready for NFV certification program as proof of close VNF integration with the vCloud NFV platform.

VMware continues to increase the number of partners that have been certified within the VMware Ready for NFV program. At MWC 2019, we have announced certification of more than 105 Virtual Network Functions from 85 vendors worldwide.  VMware’s broad ecosystem of certified partners creates a true marketplace that helps CSPs remove barriers to successful NFV implementations.

Additional Resources

To learn more about VMware’s vCloud NFV Platform

Introducing VMware Service Assurance: Real-time network intelligence for your network

Planning for 5G

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are in the midst of a network transformation as they plan their evolution from 4G to 5G networks.  As CSPs plan their network rollout and the delivery of new 5G services, ensuring reliability, availability, and quality of service (QoS) in their networks is paramount to their success. Service Assurance plays a key role in delivering the foundations of a highly available network with the ability to provide greater insights and analytics along with real-time automation and optimization.

At Mobile World Congress 2019, VMware announced the continuing momentum of delivering key strategic network initiatives with the latest release of VMware Smart Assurance v10.0 and VMware Smart Experience.

VMware extends it operations management portfolio with VMware Smart Assurance and VMware Smart Experience solutions. Six key characteristics are seen necessary for an effective design strategy:

  1. Advanced analytics and automation, fueled by machine learning for proactive avoidance
  2. Distribution, graph based topologies with hierarchical analytics
  3. Real-Time intelligence, for dynamic optimizations and avoidance
  4. Intent-Driven, moving away from static rules to dynamic policies and operational intent
  5. Extensible solution, to cater to declarative constructs
  6. Open solution, that is model driven and offers ease of integration

Key Use Cases Addressed by Smart Assurance and Smart Experience

VMware Smart Assurance and VMware Smart Experience deliver real-time intelligence in a hybrid physical cloud environment spanning transport, network, infrastructure, and services. Operational intelligence ranges in granularity from fault and performance monitoring to individual subscriber experience management.

Key capabilities in VMware Smart Assurance to look for include:

  • Dynamic Topology Discovery: automated VNF and network discovery using VMware Integrated Openstack multi-tenancy and standardized blueprints including TOSCA and HEAT correlating and isolating faults and performance issues across physical (transport, IP core, MPLS) and virtualized layers
  • NFV Assurance: VMware Smart Assurance v10 includes integration with VMware vCloud NFV with support for virtual compute (vSphere), virtual networking (NSX-T), both Virtual Infrastructure Managers – VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) and vCloud Director (vCD). Smart Assurance 10 enables VMware vRealize Operations to perform multi-tenant cross-domain performance monitoring and isolate faults and degradation across physical, virtualized, and service layers
  • Assurance for Virtual IMS Deployments: VMware Smart Assurance v10 extends a new common information model for vIMS, correlated across several layers such as VNF components, VIM Tenancy, Cloud Infrastructure, and Physical Network, providing effective Performance Monitoring, Root Cause Analysis and Issue Isolation
  • SD-WAN Assurance: VMware Smart Assurance v10 supports SD-WAN enterprise services and is fully integrated with VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud for fault management. It provides discovery of branches, gateways and networks along with providing issue isolation and impact assessment of sites, gateways, and networking. VMware Smart Assurance’s multi-vendor SD-WAN monitoring strategy already in place for Viptela and Versa Networks.
  • Performance Management & Analytics through integration with vRealize Operations: the integration extends vRealize Operations virtual operations management with a single pane of glass visibility across service, virtual and physical domains and includes powerful features such as capacity planning, performance monitoring, cost analysis, and compliance monitoring. The integration with Smart Assurance auto discovers and collects performance statistics from telco services (SD-WAN, vIMS) and physical networks (router, switch, interface, port), enabling vRealize Operations to provide correlated health visibility across VNFs, virtual machines, hosts, logical networks, and physical networks, including Machine Learning with dynamic thresholding and behavioral alerting.

VMware Smart Experience is a streaming analytics solution that delivers real-time actionable insights, at a subscriber level, for mobile access and core network management and optimization. Valuable capabilities and use cases include:

  • Network Planning and Real Time Operations: understand the demand and capacities of cell/sectors, gateways, regions, and data centers.
  • Customer Experience Management: understand the quality of services and effective customer experience over the 2G/3G/4G mobile networks and proactively optimize VIP customers.
  • Fraud Detection: identify various SIM swap and device swap use case scenarios and avoid revenue leakage for voice and data.
  • Location-aware marketing: enable up-sell and cross-sell opportunities to customers with location based subscriber profiling and service consumption.
  • QoS analytics: measure and analyze data and voice QoS with precise granularity – per subscriber, per application, per cell site – in real-time
  • Application and Device profiling: understand the consumption of various applications such as multimedia, browsing, social, etc. dimensioned by devices for targeted cellular network planning, QoS management, and network tuning.


The VMware Smart Assurance platform also delivers a new modular architecture featuring:

  • New Data Collector Framework (DCF): enabling a variety of new data sources integration, additional scalability and distribution using Kafka publish/subscribe
  • New Platform Architecture: based on Kafka messaging bus allowing more scalability, application decoupling and sharing of data
  • KPI Engine: declarative component for KPI definition and calculations using multiple streams and expressions
  • Enhanced persistency of events: active and historical events can now be easily analyzed using ElasticSearch simple and sophisticated querying mechanism
  • Enhanced UI/UX: new notification screens based on VMware Clarity framework

VMware solutions are poised to address the key characteristics of an effective service assurance solution which can be enabled in 5G distributed cloud environment composed of hybrid physical and virtual transformations. A real-time dynamic discovery engine embodies the complex multi-directed correlations providing the foundational constructs to enable effective fault and performance management decision trees. Intelligence engines with signature and machine learnt algorithmic approaches, achieve the real-time proactive optimization cadence necessary for autonomous assurance in transport, physical, virtual, and service domains.

Service Providers Benefit from SD-WAN

By Gabriele Di Piazza,
Vice President of Solutions, Telco NFV, VMware

VMware’s signing of a definitive agreement to acquire VeloCloud signals a strong commitment to build deeper partnerships with communication service providers (CSPs) by providing solutions that align with their business objectives. These CSP priorities include offering of new services, delivering a superior quality of experience, improving agility and lowering costs.

VMware is a proven, strategic software partner that enables global CSPs to manage, transform and grow their business. Once the acquisition closes, the addition of VeloCloud to VMware’s portfolio will extend our Telco strategy and further strengthen the partnership opportunities between VMware and CSP’s. We continue to help them transform their network with network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), and take to market innovative edge cloud services, resulting in increased agility, improved time to market and ultimately greater revenue opportunities.

In the new Telco landscape, growth and continued success depends on a digital transformation that takes CSPs from being simply “connectivity providers” to being providers of rich services, content and personalized experiences. CSPs must deliver new and differentiated services faster in an on-demand model, which means turning on services when and where subscribers want them. Doing so will enable Telcos to rethink new business models and services where enterprises can run their applications in their private cloud or in the public cloud, and they want to be able to seamlessly, securely, and with near real-time response connect between the clouds.

Telco’s enterprise customers are witnessing an unprecedented transformation of how they consume bandwidth. There are three key trends driving this massive demand:

  1. The rapid growth of bandwidth-intensive services and applications that enterprises are consuming on a daily basis.
  2. The growth of enterprise branch offices, remote users and just about any device (and let’s not forget the Internet of Things) connecting to the network.
  3. The migration of enterprise applications and services to the public cloud, which not only requires increased network connectivity, but also requires an increase in network security between the enterprise’s private cloud and the public cloud.

VeloCloud does a great job of addressing all three trends, equipping CSPs with the powerful ability to service enterprise needs as a managed service provider. Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) managed services can provide a less costly and complex network connectivity option that complements a CSPs existing services portfolio. And VeloCloud cloud-delivered SD-WAN can be deployed on as a virtual network function (VNF) on universal CPE, increasing agility, improving time to revenue, and reducing operational costs.

Delivering SD-WAN as a service in a VMware NFV Environment

VMware is leading the way for CSPs to virtualize their infrastructure with our VMware vCloud NFV platform. The vCloud NFV platform allows CSPs to deploy VNFs from multiple vendors, while delivering secure multi-tenancy and service automation, along with carrier-grade reliability. With our platform, CSPs can build, provision and sell new services based on real-time subscriber demand, driving customer quality of experience and significantly improving OPEX and CAPEX.

VeloCloud is a compelling complement to the NSX SDN solution from VMware. It is already part of the VMware Ready for NFV certification program, which validates interoperability and operational readiness between 3rd party-developed VNFs and our vCloud NFV platform.

Hear it from customers

Many CSP customers see SD-WAN as a key enabler to enhance their cloud-based architectures and deliver virtual services via software from the cloud. As an example, AT&T announced it is working with VeloCloud, stating that “VeloCloud’s virtualized infrastructure supports us in delivering network efficiency and flexibility for our customers.”

Sprint teamed up with VeloCloud to deliver cloud-based SD-WAN services, with software-driven centralized management that reduces complexity, maximizes network resources, and enables fast responses to changing business priorities. “The Sprint SD-WAN dashboard provides our customers with real-time, detailed visibility into the performance of their entire WAN and all of their applications, while single-click deployment minimizes the set-up time for branch offices and temporary sites.”

Just last week, Telstra announced a major platform update to their Telstra Programmable Network (TPN), partnering with VeloCloud to deploy a virtual branch network software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) solution, with Telstra calling it a first for Asia Pacific. “We are the only company in Australia and across APAC that can offer virtual branch networking, VeloCloud SD-WAN, and zero touch management all in the cloud, powered through Telstra Programmable Network” Telstra explained.

In Conclusion

We are very excited that we will be adding VeloCloud to our solutions portfolio for CSPs once the acquisition closes. In a multi-cloud world, where enterprises will have applications and services residing in their private cloud as well as in the public cloud, VMware with VeloCloud will enable CSPs to provide the connectivity with the reliability and security that enterprise customers demand.  In addition, CSPs can leverage VeloCloud as an established leading platform for simplifying the deliver and deployment of VNFs on top of VMware vCloud NFV.


VMWare & Intel – Partnering for 5G Success

By Gabriele Di Piazza, Vice President Solution Telco NFV at VMware

I joined the Telco Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) group at VMware just over a year ago. During that time, I have seen significant, industry advancements around software driven architectures, commercial solutions and more robust customer deployments.

NFV is not just a transformative technology; it is a foundational technology in the sense that it will provide the foundation on which communication service providers (CSPs) move from monolithic, inflexible networks towards software-driven, agile networks with built-in technological and operational intelligence. And, this digital transformation cannot come soon enough.

As access to the Internet becomes ubiquitous around the globe and the proliferation of digital services, sensors and networks continues to skyrocket exponentially, CSPs are constantly challenged to maintain and build network infrastructure to support the scale and bandwidth requirements. These network demands will only become more acute with the imminent arrival of 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Beyond bandwidth, CSPs and their profit margins face increased competition from over the top (OTT) providers. OTT providers are generating revenue from high margin services on top of telco networks. Meanwhile, traditional CoSPs are still monetizing only basic voice and data services and increasingly struggle to differentiate their own services.

As an industry, continuing to maintain and support traditional network infrastructure can collectively cost CSPs trillions of dollars. NFV provides an opportunity for CSPs to rethink network infrastructure and to leverage a software-driven architecture to support a cloud-based digital world. By transforming to NFV, CSPs can benefit from major OPEX and CAPEX cost savings. The new, software-driven architecture gives CSPs the ability to accelerate the market introduction of new and personalized services, which can contribute to new revenue and improved customer experiences, while making more efficient use of network resources, which provides CAPEX savings.

VMware continues to grow its NFV business, bringing its expertise and success in the IT industry to the network side. With more than 90 NFV deployments by more than 50 CSPs serving 350 million subscribers worldwide, VMware vCloud NFV simplifies network operations, accelerates service innovation and delivery and reduces costs. Organizations can use the vCloud NFV platform to deploy a multi-vendor, multi-function NFV platform that delivers service automation, secure multi-tenancy, operations management and carrier grade reliability. VMware has created a true marketplace for customers to build new services based on best-in-class virtual network functions. Today, the VMware ecosystem includes 30 virtual network functions (VNF) from 23 vendors that are certified as VMware Ready for NFV. By deploying the vCloud NFV platform, CSP customers can build, provision and sell new services in days instead of months, positively influencing customer quality of experience, and significantly improve OPEX and CAPEX.

A key part of our ability to provide our customers NFV solutions with carrier-grade performance is our partnership with Intel. Leveraging Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, the next-generation platforms for cloud-optimized, 5G-ready networks, VMware is able to provide better performance to CSPs. With an open architecture that efficiently scales and adapts to handle the demands of emerging applications, the platform provides a future-ready foundation for agile networks.

The Intel Xeon Scalable processors operate with cloud economics, and support the rapid and secure delivery of enhanced services enabled by 5G, including autonomous driving and augmented reality. With the convergence of key workloads such as applications and services, control plane processing, high-performance packet processing and signal processing onto industry-standard Intel Xeon Scalable processor platforms, CSPs can accelerate their transition to a virtualized, software-defined infrastructure.

Tests performed by Intel have shown up to 4.2x greater VM density. With the integrated, Intel Xeon Scalable processors, vCloud NFV supports native drivers that deliver improved throughput and performance. This increase is due to the removal of the previously required translation layer. This advancement creates a framework for greater agility and lower total cost of ownership and provides a stable foundation for software defined initiatives that utilize vCloud NFV.

Intel and VMware are jointly innovating to advance NFV solutions. One of the key challenges of NFV is the ease of onboarding virtual network functions (VNFs). Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress 2017, our companies announced a critical new initiative to accelerate the adoption of telecom services over virtualized infrastructure. Together, Intel and VMware developed a set of web based tools that make generating basic TOSCA (Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications) blueprints as simple as filling out a web form.

By building portable TOSCA templates and using management and orchestration (MANO) solutions that support TOSCA, VNF onboarding becomes agnostic to both MANO and the virtualized infrastructure manager (VIM) vendor. This advancement reduces the time, cost and risk for onboarding new VNFs, and accelerates speed-to-market for new services.

Moving forward, Intel and VMware will continue to partner to advance NFV solutions and enable CSPs to drive rapid service deployment. Together, the companies provide CSPs in the 5G-enabled world with the NFV solutions to support extreme levels of scalability, agility, programmability and security across an ever-growing volume and variety of networking workloads—from the network core to the edge.

It is both necessary and urgent that CSPs transform purpose-built, fixed function networks in order to implement new business models, drive faster innovation and meet enterprise and consumer service level expectations in the 5G era. The transition to a new generation of open networks, based on flexible and optimized industry-standard servers and virtualized and orchestrated network services, is the essential first step. For more information visit:

This blog was first posted on Intel® Network Builders Social Hub

MNOs come out fighting: the great industry come-back

Doing nothing is not an option

There’s a groundswell of chatter and opinion-sharing about the pressures swirling around the network; perfect storm formations of connected things, smarter devices, and 5th generation mobile networks. For a long time, we’ve been able to feel 5G in the air.

It would be a mistake to do nothing in the light of these trends. MNOs cannot take refuge in established mainstream subscriber services, and simply offer more competitive rates. Analysis Mason’s predictions for the telecoms, media and technology sectors 2017 features digital experience as the third big thing in its top ten predictions: “Network operators will increasingly use digital experience initiatives to appeal to digital natives.”

Fourth on the same list is a suggestion that “an increase in the volume of mobile video traffic will lead network operators to invest in virtualized video delivery and traffic management solutions.”

In a recent blog – Monetizing the network: operators’ new models – my colleague addressed the ‘dumb pipe’ syndrome. He suggested that only by meeting new subscriber demand for more sophisticated services could operators expect to retain and build business. Meeting this demand requires an honest reassessment of how fit the business is, in its current format, to accommodate new demands subscribers are making on their service providers.

It can be done. All is far from doom and gloom. Focus is important; leaving the past behind and turning the business on its axis. Everything is getting smart. Once upon a time it was just the mobile phone. Now connected cars are well on their way and wearables are gaining pace of adoption and consumer popularity. Deloitte’s 2017 Telecommunications Industry Outlook observes:

…”wearables such as smart watches and fitness bands have seen tremendous percentage growth. Smartwatch penetration doubled from 2014 to 2015 and tripled in 2016; smartwatches have now penetrated roughly 12 percent of the mobile consumer market in the US.”

Market dynamics

One is tempted to wonder which type of organization stands most to benefit from network-dependent new technologies, such as the Digital Assistant. Will disruptors continue to cannibalize the market? History suggests that they will, unless market dynamics change.

Past incursions such as Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook have established an evolutionary pattern – the fittest are surviving and thriving. These OTT service providers are delivering exciting and relevant services that customers are finding to be more useful and engaging than traditional services. What’s more, they are delivering these services through the pipes built by the MNOs.

Look no further than this year’s CES, where Amazon’s Alexa stole the show and is already being incorporated in products from LG, Lenovo, GE and even Ford, the latter putting it into cars.

If these significant recent trends are anything to go by it is easy to imagine that these organizations, and others like them, are already planning their service propositions to meet IoT and its potentially limitless manifestations.

Claim your share

Here’s some advice that has stood the test of time ever since Fleetwood Mac released Rumours, back in 1977:

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow, Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,

It’ll be, better than before, Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.

Tomorrow will only be better than before for MNOs if they take such advice and start obsessing about tomorrow. Any five-years out view, based on offering network services as they are today, is simply not realistic. ‘Better than before’ is not a right. It has to be claimed.

Here’s what KPMG had to say last year about tomorrow for the ‘traditional telco’:“(it) will struggle to survive beyond the next decade …unless it embraces the opportunity presented by digital.” [1]

A need to adapt is clearly emerging as a theme in just about every blog and pronouncement you read nowadays. Everybody agrees that the fittest will survive and I was delighted to note another observation from KPMG that largely concurred with my own long-held views:

“Their (Telcos’) first challenge must be to shift the prevailing business mind-set from one focused on engineering to one focused on the customer. There remains a legacy culture in some Telcos in which the customer is a secondary consideration to engineering.” [2]

The new battleground

My colleague talked about the need for agility in provisioning new services in a blog ‘MNOs might never be the same again’. Legacy network infrastructures, or – more to the point – the legacy style of thinking that goes with them, are highly suspect as foundations for competitive agility in the future. Customer focus will be the new battleground – requiring new thinking and a new, agile approach to network technologies that permit speed of response and dynamic services provision.

Video, picked out in Analysis Mason’s predictions, is but one area to prepare for. IoT will be soon upon us. MNOs need to be ready to meet the demands of the modern customer. Providing digital services and great customer experiences is necessary to win. The most important thing is to recognize the need for change now. It will all soon be here. A transition to software-driven architecture, providing the agility and flexibility that a changing world craves, can be made in such a way as to retain many of the robust and still valuable capabilities derived from existing investments.

How realistic is it to move swiftly to a customer-centric business mind-set? I’d welcome your views on the great MNO come-back, particularly with regards to the people skills you think are most likely to make it possible and how those skills can be deployed.