Too many standards cooks spoiling the virtual broth?

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Domenico Convertino, Vice President, Product Management, Communication and Media Solutions, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Rumbles and grumbles are now echoing around the market to the effect that telcos, operators and CSPs have spent too long on virtualisation and must now accept that it is time to look beyond NFV. Everyone in the industry was hoping and expecting that transformation would happen quickly, but this has not been the reality. 

Domenico Convertino accepts that the widespread adoption of NFV has taken longer than initially envisaged but adds that the ongoing network transformation project has been so important, so massive and so globally all-encompassing that the original assumptions about the ease and speed of its deployment were simply not realistic. But then hindsight is always in ‪20:20‬ vision.

It has taken a while, and some say it has taken far too long, for all telcos and CSPs to come to the realisation and acceptance that to introduce virtualisation whilst continuing to retain data, services and applications in separate silos or virtual islands in data centres because of an attachment to or reliance on a particular vendor's equipment, or by keeping them in particular network domains, negates the point of introducing transformation in the first place.

Certainly cost savings can be achieved under such a scenario but it militates against telcos in terms of agility and the in-built ability to react quickly to changing market demands that full virtualisation and a proper cloud native environment provides.

Domenico Convertino points out that telcos, operators and CSPs have learned a great deal and acquired important new skills as a direct result of solving the problems they have faced whilst grappling with transformation SDN, NFV and the cloud. Furthermore, the amount of software in networks is steadily increasing and that is already permitting the simplification of some of the complexities of each network function.

Mr. Convertino adds that the pace and breadth of transformation has been impeded rather that hastened by the existence of too many standards bodies. He emphasises that the key tenets of virtualisation have always been to increase simplicity, enhance flexibility and introduce automation and that standards bodies really must keep those objectives in mind at all times in their deliberations. 

Basically, the less proprietary software there is in a transformed network the better. What is required is no more than necessary to deploy services and to ensure as much automation as possible to reduce operational complexity. However, reaching such a desirable stats is still some way off.

Filmed at SDN NFV World Congress, The Hague, 2019

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