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NFV Report Card: Insights and Predictions from HP Discover Las Vegas


Every six months for the last several years, HP Discover has brought together thousands of customers and partners to discuss and explore the latest technology innovations impacting organizations around the world.


Last week’s HP Discover 2015 Last Vegas was no different, except for one thing: For the first time, several HP OpenNFV thought leaders took center stage to share their perspectives on network functions virtualization (NFV). Based on what we heard at Discover, there’s no question that NFV has arrived. NFV is real and its potential is huge.


Following are synopses of the many NFV insights, observations and predictions heard at HP Discover.


Carriers Are Finished “kicking tires”

Milind Kulkarni, Director of Product Management at Brocade, pointed out that carriers are done with NFV feasibility tests and are now focused on how it fits into their network. That said, challenges remain in carrier adoption of NFV, with Kulkarni citing technical and cultural hurdles. One of the biggest is the shift to open source solutions, as 97 percent of carriers consider the open source route.


Start Solving for NFV at The Service Level

While NFV’s impact is far reaching, affecting a carrier’s technology infrastructure, operations and organization, the best way to solve these challenges is to start with services. That was the advice from Prodip Sen, CTO at HP NFV. He recommends that instead of trying to first optimize a particular network function, your NFV adoption will be much smoother if you start at the service level and gradually work your way down.


And by working with vendors to first clearly define service needs and expectations, carriers can build more scalable solutions to compete with OTTs providers. 


Some Carrier Requirements Never Change

Not surprisingly, still topping carriers’ list of network requirements are availability, reliability, performance and manageability. And no NFV solution will see the light of day if it doesn’t check those boxes.  At HP we’re building NFV solutions that tackle these carrier requirements head on, by partnering with leading carrier-grade Linux provider Wind River, and incorporating HP Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade, our open source cloud platform.


Speaking of HP Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade, HP’s VP of Product Management for NFV, Sarwar Raza, shared some results from a head to head comparison with a standard open-source solution. HP Helion OpenStack Carrier Grade showed impressive results, including:

  • 74 percent decrease in average latency
  • 40 x the network throughput
  • Up to 40 x decrease in network jitter

Carriers to Vendors: Let’s Collaborate

According to Deepak Rana, Intel’s Director of Systems and Technology, one of the major benefits from a shift open source solutions is increased collaboration between vendors and carriers. This point was underscored by ConteXtream’s VP of Marketing Anshu Agarwal, who discussed how the innovation fueled by standards organizations such as OPNFV and ETSI is weakening vendor lock in and inspiring confidence that carriers’ public statements about virtualizing by 2020 isn’t unrealistic.    


Time for Carriers to Innovate and Evolve

Evolve or go extinct. That was the blunt, but honest message to carriers from Jeff Edlund, the CTO of HP’s Communications and Media Solutions business unit. If carriers want to remain competitive, let alone in business, Edlund urged them to embrace new business models. To that end, Edlund says carriers should consider creating a layer in their business model in which they can cheaply test new services looking for solutions. This will reduce initial investments in new solutions, as well as the financial impact of a failed service.


On the theme of evolution, HP NFV’s CTO Prodip Sen had some valuable advice for carriers on how to evolve their infrastructure. Sen believes carriers need to shift their strategy and capabilities from providing access to information (location, social framework, ecommerce interactions, etc.) to providing insight on that information. Sen refers to this new network capability as the Decision Fabric. It’s still a little ways off in the future, but Sen says the Decision Fabric will be able to access a carrier’s network information and use predictive tools and processing power to dynamically present opportunities to subscribers based where they are, where they shop and what they’re interested in.


POCs and Proven Solutions

Although the telecom industry’s understanding of NFV is still maturing, one thing carriers are certain about is how they want to approach NFV proof of concepts. Sarwar Raza, HP’s VP of Product Management for NFV, explained that when deciding which network functions to virtualize, carriers are targeting existing, proven solutions that can be virtualized and will fit NFV. A good example is vCPE because they have very few interfaces and can be rolled out for a few functions without having to overhaul the network.


On a related note, HP’s NFV Labs and Engineering Manager, Brian Mackay, and Chief Architect-NFV, Vinay Saxena, said that the majority of HP’s NFV use cases are focused on infrastructure, which accounts for 26 PoCs to date, and mobile core (IMS/EPC), which accounts for 17 PoCs to date. They also said they’re seeing a shift among carriers toward fewer PoCs and more live trials and deployments and that we can expect that trend to continue for the next 8-12 months.


Although NFV has quickly gained momentum since its launch two years ago, it still faces a long road ahead before networks are fully virtualized. That means there will be lots of continued learning and opportunities for knowledge sharing. We’ll do our part by sharing our insights here, on Telecom IQ. Do your part by checking back often. And don’t miss HP OpenNFV at MWC Shanghai in July.


To learn more about HP’s family of NFV solutions and how we can help you on your NFV journey, visit our Web site.


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