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VMware Goes to Mobile World Congress 2018 – Cloud Without Limits: Accelerating 5G from Core to Edge

It’s that time of year again, where the mobile industry and its growing ecosystem descends on Barcelona to see the latest and greatest technologies that are shaping the future of connectivity, mobile applications and innovations that will carry us into a 5G future.

Visit VMware in Hall 3 Stand K10

We have a lot going on at Mobile World Congress this year, from connected cars to a drone that’s displaying real-time object recognition capabilities and follow me services from San Francisco. Stop by the booth to learn how VMware’s cloud- to-edge infrastructure and support for OpenStack and cloud native apps empower CSPs to digitally transform; from simply connectivity providers to agile sources of rich 5G & IoT services, dynamic content and personalized experiences. Delivering over-the-top agility with industry-standard economics.

See VMware demonstrations on leading edge NFV infrastructure and service capabilities

  • Accelerating 5G network service delivery with vCloud NFV NFVI solutions, including vCloud NFV OpenStack Carrier edition, the fastest path to carrier-grade production OpenStack deployments
  • Automating and modernizing operations with NFV Service Assurance
  • Transforming Networks to Cloud Native using Production Grade Kubernates (PKS)
  • Enabling Seamless Cloud to Cloud Service Mobility and Infrastructure Hybridity – See how Vodafone 
deploys consistent telco services and applications across the data center (private cloud) and public cloud 
  • Extending Services that require low latency/high throughput to the Network Edge with Mult-Access Edge 
Computing (MEC) Deliver
  • Deploying NFV with Best-In-Class Global Ecosystem partners
  • Delivering market leading SDWAN UCPE services with VeloCloud

The IOT Experience

  • VMware, Affirmed Networks, Globetouch & Nightingale will show a multi-cloud infrastructure supporting multiple connected drones displaying video surveillance, follow me security, and object recognition

On-Booth Events are by invitation/registration and will take place in the Influencer Room

  • “The Fastest Path to SD-Wan Success” Tuesday, Feb 27 10:00 am – 11:30 am.Dell EMC, Intel, & VMware are inviting attendees to learn how CSPs can increase revenue, deliver advanced services and improve network agility leveraging an integrated SD-WAN solution. Together, the companies will discuss how CSPs can deliver elastic transport, performance for cloud applications, and integrate advanced services all via a zero-touch deployment model. Register Here
  • VNF Onboarding “Birds of a Feather” Session Tuesday, Feb 27 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm.VMware and Intel are pleased to announce the 2nd Virtual Network Function (VNF) Onboarding “Birds of a Feather Session” that will take place at Mobile World Congress 2018 at the VMware stand, Hall 3K10. This technical Session aims to accelerate NFV adoption through open sourced tools and a community to remove the roadblocks of onboarding network functions. Attendees are required to bring their own laptops. 
If you would like to attend this session please email : lilluzzi@vmware.com

We look forward to seeing you in Barcelona.

Telco Solutions for Enterprises – “the focal point of VMware Telco Forum Singapore 2017”

VMware vForum Singapore 2017 was a success! Held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center on November 14, vForum is a complimentary one-day event ideal for IT and Networking Professionals seeking to educate themselves about the newest virtualization technologies and latest industry trends. For the 2nd year running, vForum in Singapore brought together a Telco Forum for Digital Service Providers.

A spotlight on 5G and IoT

“Internet of Things,” “5G,” and “Network Functions Virtualization” are the three main technology disruptors for the telecom market going forward, according to Ken Dilbeck, VP of Collaboration and R&D at TM Forum. Moreover, VMware CEO, Pat Gelsinger, recently stated: “We believe there will be two types of 5G developments: one that is built on 5G and one that isn’t successful.”

This is why it is imperative that CSPs seeking to beat the competition and adopt new technologies understand the value of NFV solutions. This year, Telco Forum Singapore featured sessions on digital transformation for the enterprise.

Daniel Alfredsson, Chief NFV Architect, from Telia Company, and Iskra Nikolova, Vice President Network Transformation for Singtel, joined us to share insights on deploying NFV for IoT and 5G services. Alex Tan, Chief Innovation Officer at M1, also joined us at the Telco Forum to speak about M1’s digital transformation journey, including their partnership with VMware for SDDC and their surrounding ecosystem. Walter Ching, Deputy Director for Information Systems at M1, also shared the business benefits derived from leveraging VMware solutions at a Fireside Chat with Bruce Davie, APJ CTO, VMware.

A Technology Panel discussion, involving various executives from Dell EMC, Intel, Pivotal, VMware, created a dialog about how important it is for DSP to be software focused and the tools necessary to drive transformation.

Attendees at the event had the chance to also hear from Analysys Mason and VMware Telco NFV executives. Topics included digital transformation, 5G, IoT, operational transformation, and zero-touch networks.

Telco Forum in South Asia & Korea – Inaugural Customers & Partners Appreciations Presentation

NFV Partnership & Engagements in SEAK – Ericsson Telecommunications Pte Ltd

Ericsson is a highly valued partner to VMware in the South Asia and Korea region.  Both organizations are committed to collaboration. Examples include, jointly set up an NFV Solution Lab, partnered together with Globe Telecom on the

TM Forum Catalyst project, as well as a large number of joint POCs. These helped to facilitate the testing of eco-system partners’ solutions on our mutual solution stack and foster greater traction on NFV adoption. Both companies also share the vision to accelerate the understanding of NFV among new graduate hires by providing a hands-on working experience with multiple vendors’ NFV leveraging the joint lab set up.

Partnership with VMware Cloud Solution for the Public Sector in SEAK – Singapore Telecommunications Limited

In search of a cloud infrastructure to support the Singapore Government’s private cloud, Singtel partnered VMware to provide the Singapore Government with a standardized cloud environment. VMware’s provision of the same cloud infrastructure to both government agencies and service providers enables secure interoperability between private and public clouds—bringing all of the benefits of a hybrid cloud approach. Created based on open standards with a global partner network of public cloud providers, VMware solutions allow public sector IT teams to move applications and data between clouds quickly and easily and cloud management simpler and manageable.

Innovative Use of VMware Cloud Solution for NFV and VAS in SEAK – PT XL Axiata Tbk

With more than 60 million subscribers, XL Axiata is one of Indonesia’s leading cellular service providers, offering various types of telecommunication products and services such as voice, SMS, data, and other value-added mobile telecommunication services with an extensive network around the country.

XL Axiata is among the first Indonesian telco to offer a virtual Packet Core, to support the fast-growing Indonesian market.  The solution runs on VMware cloud solution, offered agility, scalability, and security to XL Axiata, so as to better respond to market needs.

Innovative Use of SDDC in SEAK– M1 Limited

M1 built a Cloud-based Data Center based on VMware’s Software Defined Data Center with enhanced security capabilities. Together with their strategic partners, they delivered additional offerings to their enterprise customers. M1 has also announced that its next-generation Software-Defined Data Centre (SDDC) portfolio, powered by the VMware Cloud Provider™ program, provides container support through Pivotal Container Service™ (PKS). Other portfolios hosted on SDDC include their digital mobile remittance service where M1 mobile customers can access real-time exchange rates and remit funds to designated recipients anytime, anywhere. There are also further extension plans for IoT and Big Data Platforms.

Innovative Use of Technology to Drive Business Transformation – Globe Telecom

Globe’s journey to the cloud began with them re-energizing their cloud strategy. It involved transforming the cost of systems by driving cloud economics, improving customer experience by enabling self-service and providing cloud brokering services.  In addition, they aim to improve their speed to market and build a culture of innovation in Globe. The partnership created between Globe and VMware are strong examples of how we could drive Industry and Business Transformation hand in hand.

Compelling Use of VMware Automation Solution for Internal IT Cloud in SEAK – StarHub Limited

StarHub was one of the pioneers on Singapore Telco market to leverage VMware to deliver a more agile and flexible infrastructure to support their business. StarHub realizes the possibilities of the agile and flexible IT infrastructure with the virtualization of critical applications, optimizing hardware resources and savings by providing higher availability and scalability. This provides a seamless and better experience for their customers.

For more information on the NFV elements of vForum contact Emily Ng at emilyn@vmware.com

For more information on VMware NFV solutions:

VMware NFV Solutions: http://www.vmware.com/go/nfv 

VMware Customer and Partner Testimonials: http://www.telecomtv.com/articles/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.


Better customer loyalty through better customer experience

Have you heard the one about the Telco with good Net Promoter Scores? Well I’m not surprised – until recently, no one had. But that’s all changing as Telco becomes the latest (or as some might complain – the last) industry to embrace good customer experience.

I’m not really stating anything controversial to say that the typical perception of Telco is not an image of the most customer-friendly industry. But it is, as I say, all change ‘round here. The type of modernisation that certain telcos have in their sights (including, according to this blog, Orange and Optus) is now nothing less than a necessity for the whole Telco sector. Consumer expectations have changed across multiple industries and the marketing mantra for customer satisfaction is: experiences not products. Increased connectivity through mobile and social has led to more empowered consumers. All telcos have recognised this at pretty much the same time, which has meant experience is becoming a key battleground for competition. And the CMO has been thrust to the forefront of battle.

The weapons of engagement

In a completely saturated Telco marketplace, customer retention becomes a critical imperative. It costs much more to find new customers than it does to retain existing ones. Which means it’s a driving factor in the need to invest in customer experience. Some of the ‘weapons’ in the CX arsenal today include:

· Personalization

· Artificial Intelligence

· Speed to market

· New products and services

These are all well and good and are proving their worth across other sectors too, but getting them up and running and then sustaining them in a ‘fresh’ way takes time. And more pertinently – costs money.

New challenges, new revenue channels A recent blog by Constantine Polychronopoulos on Monetizing the Network looks at some of the new ways in which Mobile Network Operators are generating this much-needed money. They’re under significant pressure to diversify revenue streams for a number of reasons including the erosion of profit by Over The Top (OTT) services. PwC report that revenue per customer is falling in the telco space in nearly every region. When you consider that nearly a quarter of the global market will be using messaging apps in two years from now, the threat telcos face becomes starkly clear.

PwC’s Telecommunications Trends report suggests that telcos need to be “in the vanguard of adopting digital technologies … state-of-the-art infrastructure, sufficiently flexible to handle new and profitable monetization opportunities. Network enhancements could also position your company to take back the technological advantage from OTT providers.”

Telcos are spending significant money ($224bn in 2016) on Mergers and Acquisitions (PwC) in order to diversify their revenue streams or buy out competition. One recent example is AT&T who have bought Time Warner.

Breaking shackles and moving forward

Monetizing the network achieves three simultaneous goals. It stems the OTT services tide; it builds customer loyalty: it improves revenues. Achieving the monetisation depends of three simultaneous abilities. You have to understand your customer; you must deliver personalised services; the network must be capable of responding to the new demands you place upon it, to meet the new demands your customers are placing on you.

If the answer to shrinking ARPU is simply to change the network, that may present a tricky enough challenge. It’s more fundamental than that, however. This is not just a tech issue, although new technologies will play an increasingly pivotal role in making change possible. More than that, it’s about more intelligent marketing, more customer understanding and more preparedness to reassess underlying cultures within the company. NFV (for example) can’t be solely an technology conversation. Marketing, product and experience job functions will be essential for leading telcos into this brave new world.

To meet the customer experience challenge and to deliver smarter personalisation, business models must change. Operating models must change. If it looks as if my message in this blog is that everything must change then I think it probably is. Where does such a tall order start to get answered? I would suggest it is in the network; more agile, more flexible, more capable of supporting what your customers want and what you must deliver.

Underpinning this change – fundamental to it in fact – is a flexible and agile infrastructure. NFV is the first step on the road to this agility – so if you’re not already deploying NFV, you really should be.

Production Ready OpenStack Cloud, obviously.

My team just announced a new OpenStack distribution for our NFV platform – VMware Integrated OpenStack-Carrier Edition.  It is a great solution for our customers looking to benefit from a carrier-grade Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) platform while leveraging OpenStack to run their Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) workloads.  The new distribution is our response to customers asking for a robust and proven NFV environment on which they can monetize NFV services, while also supporting their developers with OpenStack APIs.  We’ve packaged the distribution with our current NFV platform to deliver to market VMware vCloud NFV OpenStack Edition. With vCloud NFV-OpenStack, developers can “benefit” from the same Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that the operations team commits to in order to actually generate revenue.  It is THAT solid.  How is VMware able to offer such a robust solution? By the time you are finished reading this blog post the answer will be clear.

VMware is strongly committed to providing our customers with the flexibility to choose the best Virtualized Infrastructure Manager (VIM) within the vCloud NFV platform to meet their business priorities. One of our VIMs is VMware vCloud Director which is loved by many of our customers already in production. The other VIM is VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO)-Carrier Edition. VMware has had a DefCore-compliant OpenStack distribution since 2015, and our latest release is an OpenStack 2017.01 Octata-based distribution. If a customer decides to use VIO-CE as the VIM, it provides the customer the best of both worlds: they can select their VIM based on the APIs they want to use to deploy NFV services, and be assured that it has been fully integrated, tested, and certified with our NFV infrastructure. We also incorporated new VIO-CE-focused test cases into our VNF interoperability program, VMware Ready for NFV, and are actively testing interoperability between leading VNFs and both VIMs.  To this day, 21 of our 43 Ready for NFV certified VNFs ) already support earlier versions VMware Integrated OpenStack, and will be re-certified on VIO-CE as soon as the code goes GA.  Our VNF partners are always given the option to choose which VIM in vCloud NFV they want to test their VNFs with, so having 21 partners supporting VMware Integrated OpenStack is a testament to their own customers interest in OpenStack.

With the introduction of our vCloud NFV-OpenStack, we are updating the Ready for NFV program scope to provide our VNF partners with a way to make sure that they are benefiting from the new carrier-specific capabilities we have introduced in VIO-CE.  The new tests also help communication service providers in using the new capabilities as soon as they install the new distribution.  In essence, a production-ready OpenStack environment to run revenue-generating network services is a reality.  Obviously.

A few of the new VIO-CE features that we added to the VMware Ready for NFV program scope are highlighted below.

  • Multi-tenancy and VNF resource reservation – customers that are used to the abstraction layers available in vCloud Director love splitting their physical data centre into purpose built-constructs. They tend to carve out virtual data centres to various VNFs using the Organization Virtual Data Center (OvDC) available in vCloud Director. OpenStack does not have an equivalent construct since data centers are broken down into projects and resources are not limited to specific virtual data centers.  Typically, resources are allocated based on first-come, first-served approach. Well, with VIO-CE, we introduce a new concept called Tenant Virtual Data Center. In the updated Ready for NFV program we are looking to test that a Tenant Virtual Data Center (Tenant vDC) can host a VNF and ensure strong resource isolation so that one workload does not infringe on the other. The benefit of this function is that the network provider can deliver Service Level Agreements (SLAs)-based services on shared infrastructure without worrying if the resources assigned to the VNF will be available at all times.
  • Dynamic Resource Scaling – one of the benefits of transitioning workloads from dedicated hardware to software is the ability to quickly provide the virtualized function with more hardware resources if the function needs them. There are two ways to scale resources: scale-out and scale-up.  In our work with VNF partners we see that scaling-out in response to workload demand is well supported. This method is somewhat limited as it creates another instance of the VNF component that requires the same amount of resources that are already being consumed. The ability to provide a finer grain control of resources in a running VNF is realized when resizing a live network function. This live resizing of a VNF component, by adding the appropriate required resources to the running VNF without the need to reboot the component, is supported by VIO-CE and is obviously tested in the Ready for NFV program scope
  • Advanced Networking – There are several advanced networking capabilities that are introduced in VIO-CE that are important for the NFV use case and that are covered by our program.  For example, the ability to attach various types of networking interfaces to a VNF component using neutron is crucial.  We see this type of functionality as especially of interest to data plane intensive workloads.  In some cases, the VNF component is looking for a direct pass-through interface directly to the physical Network Interface Card (NIC) while also using some virtualized interfaces.  Data plane traffic typically uses the direct pass-through path while management and control plane interfaces are happy to use our VMXNET3 para-virtualized network interface.  This is an obvious operational use case that we translated to our Ready for NFV test plan.  We also have seen use cases where the VNF component is using VLAN tags to scale the number of virtual interfaces.  This is especially useful for NFV use cases such as virtual routers or Packet Gateway.  The ability of the VNF component to tag traffic with a VLAN is also tested in our Ready for NFV program.

One of the nice things in a modular architecture, is the ability to change modules.  VMware customers with a vCloud NFV environment can experiment with OpenStack alongside their production setup.  In fact, they do not need to put all their eggs in one basket and can experiment with VIO-CE in the lab while continuing to run their production workloads using vCloud Director. With an ever-increasing number of VNF partners supporting VIO-CE, our customers also have a production ready OpenStack cloud.


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

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.



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.

Industry’s first Open VNF Onboarding Hackathon a great success!

MWC 2017 was the venue chosen by VMware, Intel and Cloudify to kick off a co-innovation project to address one of the biggest challenges to the rapid deployment of NFV-based services: VNF onboarding. Continue reading

MWC 2017: Mobile Network Operators might never be the same again

This article was first posted by Constantine Polychronopoulos on LinkedIn


On every front – from content and media, to consumer and enterprise IoT, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G and soft-radio transmitters, sustainable development, and network virtualization (the core themes framing events at MWC2017) – operators face intense competition to deliver relevance and value to subscribers. The key consideration in all of these areas is in knowing where to begin. It’s also about knowing where to end what has gone before.

Continue reading