NFV – The path to practical progress


Posted on: Feb 15, 2018 by Phil Ridgley

The theoretical value of Network Function Virtualization is clear. By replacing the old racks of dedicated telco boxes with lower-cost, more powerful IT servers, switches, storage, virtualization and the rest, telcos will reduce operational cost and increase agility.

Increased levels of agility are a prerequisite for both new product development and delivery, and in consistently achieving great quality-of-experience.

That all makes perfect sense. But to date, few telcos have fully realized the benefits they had expected.

This blog looks at some of the barriers to success and suggests an approach to NFV which eases adoption and radically increases first-time success.

Cost and continuity

What is now the minimum customer expectation? Five bars of network and full-service access, 24x7?

When preparing for a major shift, such as the implementation of NFV, no telco can afford to put continuity of service at risk. So that means building new digital services outside the network core – and that in turn means capital expenditure.

This need to ensure continuity while minimizing transformation cost can create deadlock before the journey has even begun.

Management minefields

Even if the telco successfully establishes a parallel network landscape through NFV, then they risk another wave of challenges.

NFV is a new world and needs new skills.  So how is the telco going to handle ongoing change requests, routine upgrades?  How are they going to protect client and network data from casual or malicious attack?  And how are they going to manage the associated contractual relationships with a whole new community of partners – including ISVs and OEMs?

I know it’s tough – but try letting go

The new challenges of management, cost and continuity that surround the development of NFV capability and practice are particularly tough for telcos.

Telcos don’t like letting go. They prefer to own the necessary skills and the resources.  They like their own datacenters and they like their own private cloud data and application infrastructures.

But it’s time to think about letting go – while naturally keeping tight control of the process.  To access the range of skills and experience needed to successfully telcos have to reimagine their supplier network as a partner ecosystem.

Atos believes that its telco clients are ready to make this cultural transition.  We are sufficiently confident that this change will happen, to have made our own investments in creating a full set of NFV resources so that our telco clients don’t have to.

Learn by doing – not by talking

Put acceleration and de-risking at the top of the NFV agenda.

Through our NFV Lab and extended international network of expertise, we have established a complete test and development platform.  Our clients can build real and easily transferable proofs-of-concept, using actual telco data-streams, smart analytics and advanced orchestration.

Why is this so important?

We are asking telecommunications companies to trust us enough to step outside their traditional comfort zones. Trust must, however, be earned through evidence - and we are confident that we have the right approach to breaking the NFV deadlock caused by cost, continuity and management challenges.

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About Phil Ridgley

NFV program director
As the Atos program director for network function virtualization initiatives, Phil was instrumental in establishing the company’s NFV Lab in Grenoble.  As a business technology consultant, Phil has 20 years’ experience in leading strategic change in the telco and media sectors. He joined Atos on the acquisition of Siemens IT Solutions and Services in 2012.

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