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