Debate: What is left for operator to enable SDN and NFV?
In a live debate held last week at Mobile World Congress, Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation, Telefonica, and Manish Singh, VP Product Management, SDN & NFV, Tech Mahindra, joined TMN editor Keith Dyer to discuss what operators are hoping to achieve with the adoption of NFV and SDN.
The panel asked what the end goals are, and looked at the progress operators have made so far, picking out key challenges that operators still face around integration, certification and onboarding of VNFs, interoperability, the role of orchestration and the different Open Source approaches to NFV MANO.
The panel also looked at how operators can adapt their own cultures to act in a more agile way, adopting continuous integration and DevOps models.
Lopez: “The end game is the ability to create services that are more customer-centric and enable operators to provide real value to consumers, things and enterprises by providing experiences that are tailored for them. And to be able to do that you need to have an infrastructure that is very elastic and very agile – that’s where SDN and NFV comes in.”
Singh: “As we dis-aggregate the hardware from the software, and get to this virtualised infrastructure layer where different network functions are orchestrated – integration, performance characterisation, capacity planning and onboarding all become challenges that need to be addressed
Singh: “There has been ecosystem fragmentation in the orchestration layer and for the VNF vendors that was creating challenges in terms of, ‘How many orchestrators, how many VIMs on the infrastructure layer do I support?'”
Lopez: “It’s really hard to create an industry that is going to grow if we don’t all share the same DNA.”
Singh: “The good news is there is a vibrant ecosystem, and I think having a couple of key alternatives as we drive forward is a good thing. And we see an inflection point where a new way of standardising things is coming up, and that really sets the way for 5G.”
Lopez: “You cannot implement automation well if you don’t understand how you have deployed that NFV-SDN technology. You need to implement that itself to understand the gotchas to be able to automate.”
Singh: “As we look at SDN NFV the other key aspect is the ability to bring new player, VNFs and components into the fold and we are enabling that to be done cost effectively, efficiently and rapidly.”
Lopez: “It [SDN-NFV] works, we can achieve the main core benefits of the technology. It can do what we were planning to do – to run a software defined network. We are there, now it is about optimising it and making it run better and automating it.