InterComms :: International Communications Project
  Intercomms Issue 23

Kapsch CarrierCom logoNFV World Changing Effect on the Telecoms Ecosystem

InterComms talks to Marc Bouteyre from Kapsch CarrierCom about the benefits of NFV

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Marc Bouteyre, Head of SDN/NFV Solution Management, Kapsch CarrierCom
Marc Bouteyre, Head of SDN/NFV Solution Management,
Kapsch CarrierCom

Kapsch CarrierCom is a leading global systems integrator in the telecoms world specialized in multivendor solutions. With a “from lab-to-live” approach, following three completely different introduction scenarios, our certified experts are using our nine labs to support complex best of breed NFV solutions. They are tackling a proof of concept in a multivendor environment together with Kapsch CarrierCom’s partner ecosystem. At Kapsch CarrierCom, we understand each of our carrier clients’ telecom requirements and are able to translate them into “NFV” requirements. This profound understanding together with our end-to-end delivery capability makes us a unique integrator in the telco world.

Q: Could you explain NVF (Network Functions Virtualisation) and its benefits in simple terms?
A: The fundamental architectural changes introduced by Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) essentially propose the meshing of the telecom and IT functions and a welcome move away from bespoke hardware. Although this development will have a world-changing effect on the telecoms ecosystem and the way network equipment is bought and sold, this effect is secondary to the economic and operational benefits NFV is set to bring.

Operators are feeling the pressure from several quarters: revenues from mobile and fixed line services are continuing to decline; traditional applications such as SMS are suffering erosion from innovative IP-based rivals; and the traffic across the network footprint is growing exponentially, with customers calling for higher performance and interconnectedness of experience.

NFV is capable of reducing operating costs by delivering a simpler, centralised infrastructure and service management capabilities as well as enabling a faster time to market for new, revenue-generating services. But the implementation of NFV is complex and involved, an undertaking cautious operators will want to seek specialist help in deployment.

Q: So if I am correct, NFV will need individual solutions to individual operators, is that right?
A: Yes in a way each operator will have its own specifications for an NFV deployment and one is unlikely to be on the same baseline as any other. Openness and the adoption of non-proprietary, open source tools are essential and as a result it is difficult for network equipment vendors to ship and support each other.

It’s possible that an operator could deploy a full virtual solution to compete faster in the market and then scale that up as needed without touching the legacy network. But the operator could also deploy NFV on their existing network infrastructure to maximise the value of their previous technology investments. However, this type of deployment is very complex and benefits greatly from the deep integration capabilities that are needed to make all the technologies work together.
Research has shown there is little appetite among operators to perform their own complex integrations, instead relying on systems integrators to provide best of breed solutions and a specialist skill set.

Although OSS/BSS virtualization is not directly related to NFV architecture, which mainly focuses on pure Telco applications, it contributes to further improve the CAPEX and OPEX of the overall solution as it too will run on standard hardware. But it serves as an example of the easier integration and making the best usage of the overall infrastructure brought about by NFV in general.

From Lab to Live – a Migration Scenario.

  • Step 1: Deploy NFV architecture with orchestrator
  • Step 2: Migrate Bare metal EPC to vEPC
  • Step 3: Migrate IMS to vIMS
From Lab to Live – a Migration Scenario
From Lab to Live – a Migration Scenario

Q: So in fact the emphasis will change from the skill of product to the skill of the integrator?
A: Let’s look at European operators Telefónica and Deutsche Telekom who recently set out detailed and aggressive NFV plans. The German carrier said last year it was re-engineering its network because: “The biggest pain for us is that there is so much legacy technology in networks that it is difficult to bring new services to the market. We need to be able to program new services without re-architecting the network.”

Meanwhile, Telefónica is “reaching the limits” of the performance it can drive from proprietary vendor platforms and the mechanism through which the operator can exert the greatest change is virtualisation. To quote Enrique Blanco, global CTO, Telefónica who said, “Today we don’t see a clear differentiation between network and IT.”

But embracing such a radical architectural overhaul is extremely challenging and it is hardly unusual for the sheer size of a project to deter operators from embarking upon it, hence the growing demand for skilled systems integrators with experience of end-to-end NFV integration and its constraints.

The idea is to take a network appliance and run it as software on servers, storage and switches. Of course, it’s easier to deploy software images than it is to deploy hard boxes, but operators can also apply resilience concepts that do not even exist in hardware today, as well as it making testing and service assurance easier.

OpenStack works as the foundation here, and an open source virtualization solution better fits the requirements for telecom, with faster development times and sustainability, as well as deep integration into the Linux oS to further leverage development. OpenStack aims to deliver solutions for all types of clouds by being massively scalable and feature rich.

But that’s not to say implementation of OpenStack is straightforward or a task for the faint of heart. As eBay’s Chief Engineer in charge of the OpenStack private cloud, Subbu Allamara- ju, has publicly stated: “OpenStack gives some very key ingredients to build a cloud, but it is not cloud in a box.” The additional resources required to implement the solution consume a significant amount of time and effort that may be better addressed by a company with technical expertise.

Q: So to sum it up where are we with NFV?
A: The migration to NFV is a journey for all service providers and given the breadth of the scope of the task, they will need to seek help for the migration because it is very complex. Many operators have begun experimenting with the virtualization of simple applications. According to the Intelligence survey, 9% of respondents have already begun commercial operation of virtualized BSS and 23% of respondents have begun trials of virtualized BSS environments, with a further 7% expecting to dip their toe into the water this year and 28% within the next two years.

But going beyond this, to a fully virtualized environment is a sizeable task although one that will deliver sizeable rewards. Properly done, operators will remove the threat of vendor lock-in, being able to swap out the oSS, EPC or orchestrator as required. Moreover, elasticity will allow them to add and remove resources as required and reduce CAPEX; boost scalability by growing load with peaks and scaling down when necessary; the ability to quickly replicate busy components and migrate less busy ones through load balancing; meet SLA performance guarantees through automatic provisioning; and increase availability by providing geographical diversity.

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