Author Archives: Honore LaBourdette

How do you plan to deliver 5G services?

 

You can do what with your phone?

As we continue to predict how the world will look according to 5G, Telcos are also considering how to deliver on the promise that the new standard holds. Fundamentally it will improve user experiences by delivering new, faster (one millisecond end-to-end round trip delay) and more seamless (1000x bandwidth per unit area) services. This entails providers improving their ability to deliver and support a heavy line-up of data-intense services.

It’s a big shift; both in customer expectations and in technology. It requires new approaches to network operations; new skills and effective ways of providing a bridge from what is, to what will be. Consumers will be looking for exquisite personalized services delivered instantaneously to their smartphones. The world will be real-time. Meanwhile, the enterprise and society will expect far more.

The GSMA suggests that 5G will cover a third of the world’s population by 2025, approximately 1.4 billion connections. Providing a thought-provoking context for the impact of 5G on network operations, the GSMA says:

“5G will see a major shift in how cellular networks are designed and what they are used for. Mobile operators will use new network architectures…Advanced software will enable the mobile network to adapt to the needs of the service, rather than the other way around.”

The 1.4 billion connections won’t, of course, all be enthusiastic gamers on their morning commutes thrilled with faster speeds. They’ll be connections changing the way society functions, becoming the base enabler of autonomous driving, remote robotic surgery, smarter manufacturing, and, yes, great fun gaming. A bigger focus than ever before will bring data analytics to the top of the agenda; the ability to assimilate huge volumes of data and extract the meaning from it in real-time to drive ever-more responsive services and deliver the fundamental requirement of IoT; the ability of machines and systems to talk to each other and react accordingly.

Enormous commercial opportunity

Autonomous cars will be communicating in real-time with traffic systems and other vehicles. Smart homes and office buildings will be sensing environmental influences to activate internal building systems. Transportation systems in smart cities will be more in evidence. Virtual Reality will become a widespread, well, reality. Healthcare will embrace remote intervention and prevention capabilities. IoT, in short, will lean heavily on 5G.

It’s time to make sure not just that your network can take the weight, but also that your entire approach to network architecture – the creation of 5G-capable infrastructures – and servicing customer needs is geared around an enormous commercial opportunity and potential new revenue streams.

Planning for transition and beyond

I’d like to explore how to put this ‘bridge’ in place; allowing the crossing-over from a 3G/4G world into 5G while taking a view that also goes beyond that. Any CSP needs to be concerned with the long-term value of investments and/or the sustainability of changes to network management, technology and company culture; it’s not just about the opportunity to come but the many opportunities that may then come after that.

Network changes undertaken in response to the requirements of 5G will stand the network in very good stead for many years to come. These changes may well dictate bringing new skills into the business, restructuring teams, and basically becoming the sort of organisation that can thrive in a substantially redefined competitive environment. Solutions should be robustly future-proofed; capable of evolving as demands on the network evolve, which they certainly will.

The NFV path to innovation

NFV is a prime enabler in the essential network transformation. My colleague, Gabriele Di Piazza, discusses the essential agility that NFV brings to network infrastructure automation and orchestration in his blog: The network is at the epicentre of all that happens next; Multi-access Edge Computing is right there alongside it. Network operators can react faster when they decouple core network functions from hardware appliances.

An Ericsson spokesperson puts it in perspective:

“NFV is now a prerequisite for having the kind of network that you need to be able to address the IoT workload for 5G. Furthermore, the time is now for operators to formulate their strategies to transition their core network in preparation for 5G in 2020.”

Changes made to the network now need not be regarded as fixed in stone or, in other words, embedded in the machine. At VMware we’re delivering solutions that enable CSPs to build the bridge now, work with containerised applications, but also lay the foundations for the road ahead after the transition, wherever that may lead. Without NFV there is no easily operable solution to grasp the enhancements that 5G will bring.

Telcos should consider that NFV is a mandatory first step towards 5G, but effective deployment depends on a partner, architecture and technology strategy to pin down the journey path and streamline network operations.

What do you think? Have you made the shift to NFV ahead of the arrival of 5G? If not, do you think you need to be exploring why not? Is it something you’d like to explore further? Contact me if you want to continue the discussion.

Dell EMC and VMware – Better Together for Service Providers

Co-authored by:

Kevin Shatzkamer, Vice President, Service Provider Strategy and Solutions, Dell EMC

Honore’ LaBourdette, VP Global Market Development, Telco Business Group, VMware

Some of their main challenges CSPs face include:

  • Slowing growth & innovation due to increasing technological complexity
  • Rising CAPEX and OPEX for legacy network infrastructure
  • Price/Margin erosion due to disruption in existing businesses models
  • Uncertainty in new business models – new value chains, new competitors
  • Operational transformation requires workforce and process retooling

Dell EMC and VMware are teaming together to help solve these challenges and are excited to demonstrate of the value of Dell Technologies end-to-end for service providers.

As a starting point, at Mobile World Congress Americas last fall, we announced the Dell EMC NFV Ready Bundle for VMware to simplify and accelerate NFV deployments for service providers.  This bundle includes open standards-based Dell EMC Cloud Infrastructure (compute, networking, Service Assurance Suite and management tools) and a choice of a Virtual Infrastructure Manager (vCloud Director or VMware Integrated OpenStack) with vSAN or Dell EMC ScaleIO.

The Dell EMC NFV Ready Bundle for VMware was just the beginning of joint, pre-validated solutions between both companies.  Dell EMC and VMware are on a journey to integrate and demonstrate the value of our joint solution in other areas as well.

SD-WAN is another area where both companies are working together to expand SD-WAN opportunities for service providers.  According to IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Forecast, 2017-2021, SD-WAN sales will grow at a 69% compound annual rate and will hit $8.05 billion by 2021.

Enterprises are increasingly searching for cost-effective and simpler alternatives to WAN connectivity for their sprawling branch networks. SD-WAN addresses many enterprises needs around WAN costs, simplified operations and improved application performance.  For service providers, offering SD-WAN as a Service is a new revenue opportunity because they can manage WAN services for enterprises.  This is appealing to enterprises that don’t want to manage the WAN network, or applications, and would prefer to outsource these services to a service provider.

To help with SD-WAN adoption, Dell EMC and VeloCloud, which is now part of VMware, offer the Dell EMC SD-WAN Ready Nodes for VeloCloud to accelerate SD-WAN revenue for service providers. VeloCloud can also go one step further by hosting and operating SD-WAN service on behalf of the service provider to accelerate adoption.  We will also be demonstrating leading edge joint SD-WAN solutions for service providers at Mobile World Congress.

We understand that the industry is constantly moving and evolving, and Dell EMC and VMware will continue to integrate capabilities that service providers want.  Our goals as both companies is to significantly reduce deployment complexities by offering more joint pre-architected and pre-validated solutions that integrates industry leading Dell EMC hardware and VMware software, reduce installation complexity, and provide confidence that the joint solutions are ready to work in production for service providers.

 

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV): Early adoption or a timely and essential strategy?

A hot topic in a cold climate

MWC, once again, captured multiple developments, ideas, initiatives, inventions and new ways of looking at things and delivered universal focus to help us all calibrate our efforts, or at least sensitise our plans. It was great to catch up with colleagues and share ideas and insights about the hugely significant year that 2018 is shaping up to be for Telcos. We can count on an increasing wave of pressure building up around 5G and its natural and ever-present partner, network transformation.

Just about this time last year I posted a blog pre-MWC17 where I said “As MWC17 approaches…there is every sign that things are about to change. To put it another way, there is overwhelming pressure to make sure they do.” My thoughts were around the advent of the IoT and the requirement for carriers to invest carefully in new technology and networking infrastructure as they set about the task of creating the network of the future.

There is more than just a technology issue involved. The business case for modernising the network is strong; new customer demands will require new business models from Telcos, representing a clear step forward on traditional services and demonstrating true organisational agility in giving customers what they want.

For an organisation to be able to respond rapidly to market pressures, revitalising and innovating its services to deliver outstanding customer experiences, it has to have the technological agility to do so. Technology for its own sake is just a way of diluting your ROI. Technology associated with a clear revitalised business strategy and models is a winning combination.

Unprecedented resilience and reliability

I’m not a lone voice in such views. An article in TechTarget suggested:

“ Network functions virtualisation andsoftware-defined networking will play increasingly large roles in the future of networking, converting what used to be specialised hardware or local virtual machines into software running in the cloud. All management functions, including analytics, will reside in the cloud, providing full-function, extensible, manage-anywhere flexibility and unprecedented resilience and reliability.”

Finding the way forward isn’t always easy in a market where so many pressures continue to pile up, so many technologies present themselves as the optimum solution, and so much remains invested in legacy infrastructures, not to say legacy approaches. VMware’s focus at MWC18 was on engaging with individuals to clarify strategies around NFV adoption. To hold back simply because the methodologies may be new is not the soundest of strategies, while all around the signs (5g/IoT/4th Industrial Revolution primarily) are consistently pointing to the need for change.

Virtualisation is a tried and tested technology that has for so long been delivering new efficiencies in the datacentre and across the enterprise in general. The natural assimilation of abstraction into network infrastructures therefore has many use cases to prove its effectiveness. Network operators need only look beyond their own sphere to appreciate what NFV can bring to their networks.

Be different now or be just the same later

Innovation is just that – doing new things, taking on board new approaches and ultimately, daring to be different. Those who do it first are different and they gain the first mover advantage. Those who delay, by definition, become followers. When they do there will be a risk of finding that the best claims have already been staked. At MWC18, VMware showcased how our multi-cloud-to-edge infrastructure and support for OpenStack and cloud-native apps empower CSPs to digitally transform from being no more than ‘connectivity providers’ into agile enablers of rich 5G & IOT services, dynamic content and personalised experiences. We also presented a path for CSP’s to participate in the new “cloud economy” across private, public and Telco clouds to further enable new revenue opportunities.

The hunt for mass market NFV

One of the overall discussion themes at MWC was ‘The Hunt for Mass-Market NFV’, a session described thus: “NFV has been much discussed, and much trialled. There have been few substantial live deployments, though. This session investigates what lessons have been learnt from live NFV so far and what barriers to wider adoption remain in the technology, the market and the mobile industry itself.”

I was a little surprised to see this topic outlined in the way it was, given that VMware now has more than 100 live NFV deployments in production, some running multiple VNFs and multiple services across our NFV infrastructure platform. There are numerous Telcos well ahead of the curve, or where MWC18 believes the curve to be.

NFV is a large constituent element in any strategy to meet the future head-on with agile operations and a responsive network that can scale on demand; and demand for bandwidth there will be, in abundance. From cities and transportation systems to cars and houses, and every industry you care to name, IoT is upon us. The need to transport data rapidly is upon us.

What’s the hold-up?

Telecommunications will respond with both new technologies and increasingly more aggressive competitive spirt. It will be, quite simply, a gold rush. The question must be asked, therefore, what’s holding anybody back from at least exploring their options around NFV?  Why hesitate when evidence shows that competitive companies are advanced on their virtualization journeys? Do they know something you don’t?

If there’s hesitancy in the industry, where is it coming from? There certainly will be golden opportunities for Telcos with the right network capabilities. There can be little sound rationale for not assessing what those capabilities are, and how they can be assimilated into current network architectures.

At MWC18 VMware provided not only demonstrations of how to pin down the benefits of NFV, but also showed the ease with which NFV can be adopted. Our vCloud NFV platforms, for example, enable CSPs to:

  • Accelerate services deployments and foster innovation for IoT and 5G services
  • Simplify operations, delivering operational intelligence and visibility across the network
  • Access enormous choice through a best-in-class NFV partner ecosystem

We looked also at on-boarding, with our partners, Intel. This technical session looked at accelerated NFV adoption through open sourced tools and a community that helps remove the roadblocks of on-boarding network functions. As the year unfolds and the challenges mount, VMware can help you gain agility in the network to respond, revitalize, and reap the rewards of the opportunities ahead. Get in touch if you’d like to discuss further.

Collaboration in the new NFV-driven economy

Today’s new subscription economy allows both business and consumer customers to pay as they go, which is great for them, but the impacts for the service provider are both obvious and seismic. This fundamental change in revenue and operating models means that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) now look and behave very differently from only five years ago.

Software-defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are primary drivers of this on-demand approach to core infrastructure. Leading CSPs are collaborating with their technology vendors, looking closely at their offerings to realign their services and more firmly secure their relationships with business customers. In doing so, CSPs become more valued as strategic go-to partners to their customers, delivering capabilities that make agility and innovation possible.

If CSPs are being forced to rethink their revenue models in response to evolving customer demands, then it’s only natural that they’ll be reviewing their commercial relationships with technology vendors. I believe that to meet the demands of the customer, a new perspective on the commercial model between the vendor and the CSP is needed. It’s time to move the conversation on and start looking at the options.

The investment challenge of the modern network

CSPs are shifting away from traditional CAPEX infrastructure renewal projects; because they can. One leading analyst firm reports that CSPs anticipate CAPEX reductions of 40% and also expect OPEX reductions to be in the region of 60%.

A downward spiraling equation seems to be in play. As CSP revenue streams reduce, market demand for new services, delivered to and paid for by their customers in new ways, is escalating. To optimize the commercial opportunities CSPs need to invest relatively heavily in infrastructure. Spending more and making less in the short term, against the expectation of greater long term gains, is a tenuously sustainable business model. Something has to give. So, what is it?

A recent IHS Markit report lists a number of common consumption model approaches. These include the stalwarts such as term and perpetual licensing, and SaaS, but also two particular models that promote relationships far more intertwined than age-old seller/buyer arrangements. These are:

  • Risk and Revenue Sharing: Where vendors assume the risk and expense of integrating hardware and software for a specific service in return for pay-back in revenue sharing.
  • Co-Development projects: An approach which is beginning to characterize the development of SDN and NFV orchestration in a style not dissimilar to DevOps.

These two models are of interest as CSPs increasingly look to vendors to share the risk involved in delivering a modernized infrastructure while responding to the natural laws of the new subscription-based world. The time has come to drop the supplier/customer confines and stuffiness of traditional vendor/CSP relationships and look to capture the spirit and practice of mutuality, creating a vibrant commercial model that turns on the light at the end of the tunnel for all involved.

Paving the way for a new commercial relationship

In my conversations with our CSP customers I often encounter a focus on the use of technical criteria to justify investment in network modernization. I suggest that the commercial business case is as, if not more important, where decisions are driven by the desired business outcomes, rather than simply the perceived requirement to update technology.

One way around dealing with initially unquantifiable factors is to move an existing service over to the NFV approach and compare the associated P&L to that which would apply with traditional networking.

To pave the way for mutually beneficial partnerships a number of changes need to take place, not least the creation of a commercial agreement for a new type of relationship that will in many cases contradict pre-existing contracts. Of interest here is that 96% of virtualization contracts are managed by the IT team – which could be a challenge when NFV contract owners will sit across IT, Network and Data teams

Many vendors who are prepared to take on this partnership role will also require a higher level of transparency into CSP revenues and it is not unreasonable for any organization to be hesitant about opening the books to a third party. It’s not an insurmountable hurdle but it is a high one to jump especially when opening negotiations with the procurement teams.

Many hands, light work

To allay fears and also to bring in the skills and contributions, not just from vendors but also the diversity of internal specialists, the most instantly workable and amicable scenario lies in the area of co-development. This is an approach that allows vendors to identify projects that they could co-develop with CSPs that can showcase the potential for innovative revenue generating services that help CSPs fast-track NFV implementation.

CSPs prefer the freedom and flexibility of an ‘a la carte’ menu – what they want, when they want it. Vendors need the security of revenue potential. Co-development seems to address everybody’s strategic goals.

At VMware, we are working with CSPs proactively and collaboratively to reach outcomes that work well for both parties. When they do, the relationship gets stronger as it becomes mutually beneficial. Together with many of our customers we are getting creative about commercial models, sharing risks and anticipating shared rewards for effort. This approach is based on respect between partners and will, I believe, deliver solutions that work for all.

What do you think? Is a new era of working together going to work for all of us? I’d welcome your views about new styles of relationships and whether or not they’re the way forward.

 

 

Three steps to customer centric strategy in the IoT era

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This article was first published by Honore’ Labourdette, VP Global Market Development, Telco Business Group on LinkedIn

MNOs have billions of opportunities for growth

The pressure is on for many Communications service providers. Their enterprise customers expect them to provide a more streamlined environment capable of delivering new services faster. Driving this demand are factors such as the changing workplace, mobile, cloud and – gathering significant momentum – the Internet of Things.

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Inside the Telco camp on the eve of the revolution

This blog was first posted by Honore’ Labourdette on LinkedIn heremba blog 1 header

The past is behind us

Telcos have been through an exhausting time in recent years. Nerves and profits have become a little frayed. As MWC17 approaches, however, there is every sign that things are about to change. To put it another way, there is overwhelming pressure to make sure they do. Continue reading

VMware vCloud NFV Platform Wins World Communication Award for Vendor Innovation

We are excited to announce that our VMware has been honored with more winning hardware wca-2016-awardsfor its VMware vCloud NFV Platform. By hardware, we mean trophies not big iron boxes. Earlier this year, VMware vCloud NFV was recognized as the “NFV Innovation of the Year” by Informa at the 2016 Network Virtualization Awards.

This week, VMware won in the “Innovation Award: Vendor” category at the 2016 World Communication Awards, sponsored by Total Telecom magazine. In their 18th year, the World Communication Awards (WCA) are awarded to those who have shown the highest level of quality and innovation throughout the year. WCA is the largest awards ceremony in global telecoms recognizing innovation and outstanding industry performance. Continue reading