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When talk turns to action: Telefónica comes out of the traps with full-blown NFV plan

out of the traps

Telefónica has announced UNICA, its SDN/NFV implementation strategy, in partnership with HP. It says the initiative marks a paradigm shift in the way telco networks are designed and installed using existing virtualization technologies.  

“For Telefónica, UNICA is just the first step for a wide and ambitious vision which results in the best experience for our customers. We are starting here with HP, not just a new way to deploy networks, even more, a new way to deploy services all based in cloud,” said Enrique Blanco, Global CTO of Telefónica.

Blanco says  the investment will address three main areas for the Spanish telco: Cloud services, virtual network functions and the establishment of a multi-vendor environment.

“In fact UNICA will be the architecture of the future for network services and IT approach for  the big operators,” he says.  (See this week’s video - How Telefonica is going 'full-bore' on NFV with its UNICA infrastructure transformation)

HP has been selected as both the technology provider and the system integrator and, says Saar Gillai, SVP, GM, Network Functions Virtualization, at HP, that‘s a “big deal”.

Gallai ranks Telefónica as a lead player in the NFV stakes. Indeed, the telco was a founder member of the ETSI NFV ISG, the operator-lead group which has pushed through the blueprint for NFV as a cooperative industry effort.  

As a result the NFV approach seems to have taken root within the operator and UNICA is no sudden bout of enthusiasm  -  the strategy was launched about a year ago with the telco vowing to transform itself, first via SDN and then with an NFV reference platform.

Telefónica says it will implement the end-to-end HP OpenNFV platform stack, including server, software, orchestration and networking technologies, carrier grade HP Helion OpenStack technology, services and expertise. The approach will see it move  from proprietary “vertical” silos to an open, unified “horizontal” architecture, bringing in the future improved centralized management and orchestration (MANO) capabilities and shared hardware resources across services, dramatically reducing operating costs.

Telefónica plans to follow a three-phase approach to implementing UNICA:

  • Virtualize non-critical systems, such as AAA and IP Media Subsystem (IMS), deploying them as virtual network functions (VNFs)
  • Transform to NFV core networks like virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) for LTE
  • Virtualize critical systems like Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and Home Location Register (HLR)

A key requirement for network transformation through NFV is the shift from expensive, proprietary appliances to open, standards-based hardware. The HP OpenNFV platform is fully compatible with industry standard servers, storage and networking offerings, enabling higher flexibility at a lower cost for deploying and running telecommunications services.

Telefónica is currently certain services running over an end to end virtualized network, including selected VNFs running on UNICA Execution Environment, at Mobile World Congress 2015, March 2-5, Barcelona, in the Telefónica booth (Hall 3, Stand 3J20).

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