Author Archives: Gabriele Di Piazza

About Gabriele Di Piazza

Gabriele Di Piazza is vice president of solutions for Telco NFV at VMware

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.

Gabriele

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: www.vmware.com/go/nfv

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.