Nigel Stephenson of VMware agrees that the evident and undisputed direction of travel for the global comms industry is to cloud native but adds that the process is an evolutionary journey rather than a revolutionary step-change.
He says that VMware has the ability and expertise to enable a CSP's progress to cloud native and the company's focus is on enabling the infrastructure that will carry network operators from where they are now in a virtualisation environment to a cloud native containerised landscape and help them manage the evolved transition from one state to the other.
Nigel Stephenson adds that VMware already has cloud native products in its portfolio and is building a platform for cloud native whilst being ever mindful that CSPs also need applications to run on it. That aspect is still evolving across the entire vendor ecosystem. Thus, currently, there are very few genuine 100 per cent cloud native functions available and it will be some time yet before they come on-stream.
Orchestration is one of the most important integral aspects of the cloud native network and VMware has recently introduced its "Project Maestro" a solution not only to cover both the current NFV virtualisation use case for existing VNF management but also an understanding that applications are being disaggregated in ways they never have been before and therefore to accommodate the need to do things in "a modern apps way" going forward by utilising containers and microservices. Thus the intent behind Project Maestro is to give CSPs the ability to build on what they have so far delivered in an NFV virtualised way and then continue to journey to cloud native under under the aegis of a single orchestrated environment.
Turning to containerisation, Nigel Stephenson says such technologies have many benefits for operators and enterprises alike but build, run and manage containers can still be problematic and tricky. However, a lot of intelligence that now exists around VMs actually maps, in varying degrees, into the containerised world as well. What the industry at large must now do is to ensure that as the move towards ubiquitous containerisation progresses it becomes as straightforward to deploy and manage those new environments as is now commonplace with virtual machines.
Filmed at: Great Telco Debate, London, December 2019