Network functions virtualization (NFV) leveled the playing field this year with regard to incumbent service providers -- they all started from scratch while scratching their heads. As a result, a renewed sense of collaboration reinvigorated the industry's interest in, and reliance on, running proofs of concept for virtualization.
Running these proofs of concept (PoCs) is one of the many New Year blessings that the industry has to look forward to in 2015, and one of the best ways a carrier can prepare for network functions virtualization (NFV), according to Fred Feisullin, senior network architect, Office of the CTO, at Sprint.
Sprint championed one of TM Forum's recent Catalyst proof of concept projects called "Preparing NFV for Primetime," demonstrated at TMF's Digital Disruption event in San Jose in December.
"Any time there is a new paradigm shift, everybody starts at zero, everybody's equal," said Feisullin, who spoke about what service providers can do to prepare for virtualization at Digital Disruption. "If you are a Goliath it's a little harder than if you are David, because you aren't used to new paradigms."
With the complexity of NFV, it's important to have working examples of NFV in order to allow people to visualize it and understand it practically: Not just a one-off implementation of a virtualized network function on a virtual network, but see it in the context of an architecture, an information model and a dynamic environment that would mirror and support a carrier, noted Dave Duggal, co-founder and managing director of EnterpriseWeb, a participant in the "Preparing NFV for Primetime" Catalyst, and a speaker in the same session as Feisullin.
"It's not an easy task, but it’s a blessing that we have the ability to run proofs of concept at time when there are lots of naysayers," said Feisullin. "We have shattered many myths with proofs of concept."
Some of the many myths Feisullin said were shattered by PoCs this year include: Orchestration in real-time, introducing and integrating virtual network functions very quickly; and taking multiple vendors' VNFs, putting them together, getting them to work in synergy and being able to provide end-to-end service. "And this is just the beginning," he added. "There is a lot of stuff that is going to come out in 2015 that is going to blow people away."
However, more PoCs on how to deliver end-to-end services, and achieve better throughput and capacity, are going to be key, he said. "It's not so much, 'Is this possible?' -- it's how can we make it possible by thinking outside of the box and doing proofs of concept and thinking about how we can deploy this [in a successful way] that is going to make things come to market sooner," said Feisullin. "We have to work together and think together, and we need more proofs of concept."
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP