SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile
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SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile
A collection of articles and posts on how virtualization and software defined networking will affect core and RAN mobile networks.
Curated by Patrick Lopez
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HPE Selling OpenStack & Cloud Foundry Assets to SUSE

HPE Selling OpenStack & Cloud Foundry Assets to SUSE | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) announced today that it’s selling some OpenStack and Cloud Foundry assets to SUSE. The companies also note that SUSE is acquiring some “talent” — meaning, people.

SUSE’s parent company, Micro Focus, is in the process of merging with HPE’s Software division, an $8.8 billion deal that was announced in September.

SUSE already offers an OpenStack-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud. HPE‘s OpenStack assets will be poured into that offering. On the Cloud Foundry side, SUSE says it’s going to use the acquired assets to launch its own enterprise-ready platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

HPE doesn’t appear to be giving up on cloud completely. Today’s announcement says that the company will continue to offer Helion OpenStack and the Stackato PaaS, both of which will continue to use the relevant technologies that are being handed off to SUSE.

In other words, HPE is selling some technology that it will then continue to use. In that sense, this deal resembles the “spin-mergers” HPE has arranged, such as the transaction with Micro Focus. HPE is spinning off the Software group, which will merge with Micro Focus and create a new company, which HPE shareholders will hold a 50.1 percent stake in.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The companies expect to close the deal in the first quarter of 2017.

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Facebook is once again putting the $41 billion computer network industry to shame

Facebook is once again putting the $41 billion computer network industry to shame | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Facebook has produced yet another computer network innovation that will once again floor the $41 billion network tech industry.

And Facebook will again share it with the world for free, putting commercial network tech vendors on notice. (We're looking at you, Cisco).

The new innovation, revealed on Tuesday, is something called Backpack and it's a second-generation computer switch, the successor to the one it released last year called the 6-Pack that directly challenged tech made by market leader Cisco (and others, like Juniper).

The difference is, the Backpack is way, way faster.

The 6-Pack was a 40G switch, which means it could stream 40G worth a data around a data center network. The Backpack is an 100G optical switch, which means it's 2.5 times faster, and using fiber optics (aka light) to move data around instead of the traditional and more limited copper wires.

The Backpack is also a companion to the new switch Facebook announced last spring, called Wedge 100. The Wedge 100 is what's known as a "top of rack" switch, that connects a computer rack of servers to the network. The Backpack then connects all the Wedge 100 switches together. In network jargon this is known as a "network fabric."

Facebook is attempting to build itself a fully 100G data center and these two pieces get it much of the way there, along with the network equipment it announced last week that put the telecom equipment industry on notice.

Going on sale in 2017
There are two key thing about this new switch. First, Facebook is turning it over to its game-changing Open Compute Project, which has gained cult-like status in the few years since Facebook launched it.

Facebook engineer Omar BaldonadoLinkedIn/Omar Baldonado

OCP creates open source hardware, where engineers can freely take hardware designs and work on them together.

OCP offers designs on racks, servers, storage drives and other hardware. Contract manufactures stand by to build them. OCP has even inspired other internet players to build their own hardware completely from scratch, such as LinkedIn.

In the case of Facebook's switches, Facebook went the extra step of arranging for its contract manufacturer, Accton, to mass produce the devices so anyone can buy them.

And Facebook also open sources the software to run the switch, and worked with other network startups to get their software to work on its switches.

Facebook plans to do all of this for the Backpack, too, Omar Baldonado, a member of Facebook's network engineering team tells us.

"We anticipate it will follow same path. Later in 2017, people will be able to get a Backpack. We are working with the software eco-system, too. That's why we are contributing ot OCP," he said. 

Mind-blowing technology
In order to create Backpack, Facebook had to work with chip makers and optical materials vendors to do what's never been done before, create special chips and special optical fiber that brings the cost of such switches down.

The optical switches on the market today are not typically used in the data center to connect servers together. They are typically used in the "Backplane," the part of a network that stretches between data centers or across cities.

And because they've been targeted for metro-scale networks and beyond, such switches tend to use a lot of power, throw off a lot of heat, and are very expensive.

Facebook helped design a switch that uses less power and generates less heat, can operate at around 55-degree Celsius, Baldonado says, which has never been done before. Folks in the network industry have told us Facebook's 100G work is "mind blowing."

To bring costs down, this switch, like the other OCP switches, is modular, meaning you can pull it apart and swap out parts, using different chips, different network cards and different software. 

At one point, a former Facebook OCP engineer named Yuval Bachar (who is now working at LinkedIn) declared the a goal that networks should cost as little as $1 per gigabyte. This goal has not been achieved, and Baldonado is the first to admit it. But with this switch and all the other hardware, Facebook is bringing costs down, he says. In this case, even if the switch is still pricey to buy, it will cost less to operate, he says.

Facebook is leading this charge into faster, cheaper, mind-blowing networks and data centers because one day we will all be using the social network to hang out in virtual reality, in addition to live-streaming more video.

"We are now creating more immersive, social, interactive 360 video sorts of experiences and that demands a much more scalable and efficient and quick network," he says.
Facebook's 100G modular optical "Backpack" switch
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M-CORD paves way to 5G with open source virtualized EPC 

M-CORD paves way to 5G with open source virtualized EPC  | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
AT&T, Verizon, Google and SK Telecom are among the industry heavyweights throwing their support behind the CORD Project, and specifically, M-CORD.

The CORD Project, which refers to Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center, is an open source endeavor that combines SDN, NFV and elastic cloud services, and it just announced availability of the first open source disaggregated and virtualized Evolved Packet Core (EPC). The project specifically identifies system integrator and CORD partner Radisys as contributing to its EPC framework, a foundation for many EPC products, to M-CORD.

M-CORD is designed to help pave the way for service-driven 5G architecture through capabilities such as programmable Radio Access Network (RAN), disaggregated and virtualized EPC, mobile edge computing and end-to-end slicing from RAN to EPC.

“The open source driven model is a fundamental element for the 5G roadmap as it enables extraordinary agility for identifying and responding to subscribers’ needs far more quickly than traditional mobility standards,” said Joseph Sulistyo, ‎senior director of open networking solutions and strategy at Radisys Corporation, in a press release.

Radisys has been a sustained contributor and prominent integrator of M-CORD since the first demonstration at Open Networking Summit 2016, and “we are thrilled with our continued collaboration with ON.Lab and partners and the extended community to embrace open source and enrich SDN and NFV in M-CORD for optimizing 5G infrastructure,” Sulistyo said.

Asked about the significance of being first with this EPC, Sulistyo told FierceWirelessTech that Radisys’ job is to provide a carrier-grade platform and accelerate service providers’ path to SDN, NFV and the cloud in a pragmatic way that allows operators to save money.

“We acknowledge that being first is only good enough when you can execute,” he said. As part of moving to this new open source, software-driven architecture, big changes are in store. “We understand the business model has changed,” and Radisys wants to make it accessible to customers in a fast manner so they don’t have to wait, he said.

RELATED: Verizon hooks up with ONOS project, joining AT&T, SK Telecom

According to Sulistyo, EPC is a fundamental element in providing high quality, fast and sustainable mobile services.

“To effectively and productively achieve these objectives for less, we need to empower and integrate EPC with these key technologies and architecture – NFV (for virtualization), SDN (for disaggregation), and Cloud (distributed ‘anytime, anywhere’ services and continuous DevOps model),” he said. “Through virtualized EPC approach, wireless operators can reduce capital expenses of delivering mobile services with standard commercial off-the-shelf hardware. Virtualized network infrastructure can also reduce operating expenses due to unified management and orchestration (MANO).”

Radisys is well aware it needs partners in this transformation. “When we do this, we know that we’re not going to be able to do this alone,” and other vendors and organizations will need to help make it become a reality, he said. “This allows us to really partner and incentivize other solution providers out there to come to the table. We cannot achieve this just with us.”

According to the CORD project, Radisys’ EPC has served as a foundation for many EPC solutions currently in use in production networks of service providers around the globe. Designed to be modular for ease-of-use, Radisys’ open source EPC contribution to M-CORD will allow the community to explore and demonstrate innovative architectures that can take advantage of the modularity of EPC.  

The CORD community includes service provider partners AT&T, China Unicom, Google, NTT Communications, SK Telecom and Verizon, as well as vendors Ciena, Cisco, Fujitsu, Intel, NEC, Nokia, Radisys and Samsung, and more than 30 collaborating organizations. CORD is hosted by The Linux Foundation.

“We are very pleased with M-CORD progress towards creating an open platform for LTE and 5G built with merchant silicon, white boxes and open source,” Andre Fuetsch, CTO and president of AT&T Labs, said in the press release. “As we move towards an increasingly open sourced mobile core, we can innovate LTE and 5G solutions faster and create services such as IoT, safety, mobile health and others with improved QoE and agility.”

RELATED: Radisys names Verizon as customer for its FlowEngine system

“Verizon recognizes M-CORD as an important open platform to help enable future innovative mobile services,” said Srini Kalapala, VP of Technology and Supplier Strategy at Verizon, in the release. “We continue to contribute to M-CORD while working with the larger ecosystem to realize M-CORD’s full potential toward accelerating next generation networks."

And Google is excited to see the community come together and embrace an open platform for innovation with M-CORD, according to Ankur Jain, principal engineer at Google. "This provides a framework on which the community can experiment with building next generation networks that are easier to manage, and where the network layer exchanges information with the application layer, thereby bringing efficiency to both,” he said in the release.

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Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, SK team on ‘xRAN’ to bring SDN and NFV to the radio access network

Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, SK team on ‘xRAN’ to bring SDN and NFV to the radio access network | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and SK Telecom joined forces to promote radio access networks (RANs) that are based on software and thus move away from what the operators described as today’s “highly proprietary RAN infrastructure."

The three operators made use of the NGMN Industry Conference and Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main to launch, which aims to demonstrate how software-based, extensible RANs can enable operators to made better use of spectrum assets, reduce opex and capex, and bring services to markets faster than before based on emerging use cases.

Petr Ledl, head of the 5G:haus research group at Deutsche Telekom, explained that xRAN is based on the principles of network functions virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networks (SDN).

“This is the first effort on the RAN,” he said, noting that most NFV and SDN work has so far focused on core networks.

He added that the alliance was to a certain extent born out of ongoing frustrations with vendors and the lack of flexibility that operators currently have with RANs.

The goal is to decouple the control panel from the base station to better serve users by manipulating load balances on the different base stations. also hopes to invite more operators to joint its ranks and support the entry of smaller software providers into the RAN environment. Intel, Texas Instruments, Aricent, Radisys and Professor Sachin Katti from Stanford University have already provided their support to the alliance.

Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO of Deutsche Telekom, claimed that xRAN has the potential to transform the way mobile access networks are built and managed.

“This supports our vision for RAN infrastructure evolution, which is an important component of our software defined operator model. With the adoption of a software-based multi-service delivery platform, we will have the flexibility to better respond to our customers changing user, application and business needs in the 5G era,” Jacobfeuerborn said in a statement.

At NGMN, members are demonstrating an initial reference implementation in a multi-vendor demonstration to highlight the flexibility of xRAN’s open interfaces, decoupled control plane and evolved base stations (or evolved node B) stacked on commodity hardware, as an alternative to existing closed, distributed control implementations on proprietary hardware.
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HPE, Samsung partner on NFV, VNF platform targeting mobile networks

HPE, Samsung partner on NFV, VNF platform targeting mobile networks | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Vendor giants HPE and Samsung are set to work through the HPE OpenNFV Partner Program on open and pretested NFV and VNF products

Telecom operators looking to deploy network functions virtualization technologies can now opt for a package deal from vendor giants Samsung and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The agreement sees Samsung joining HPE’s OpenNFV Partner Program as a “carrier-grade network equipment provider.” The firms said they will partner on providing carriers with integrated NFV infrastructure and virtual network functions solutions pretested for multivendor environments and based on an open architecture.

Specifically, Samsung said it will provide VNFs for mobile networks, including virtualized evolved packet core, virtualized internet protocol multimedia subsystem and VNF managers, with HPE supplying its OpenNFV platform and NFV management and orchestration solutions. The companies will jointly run go-to-market strategies with third-party solutions already verified by the HPE program.

“Together, the solutions will help carriers accelerate their transformation from networks built on monolithic, proprietary appliances to more agile cloud-based networks enabled by NFV,” the companies noted in a statement.

HPE earlier this year unveiled its Service Director platform, which the company said taps automation to foster interoperability for managing services in NFV deployments and existing physical environments, and builds on its NFV Director’s Management and Orchestration capabilities.

Samsung recently joined the Open Network Operating System project’s central office re-architected as a data center platform, which also includes members AT&T, Verizon Communications, China Unicom, NTT Communications and SK Telecom, as well as vendors like Ciena, Cisco, Fujitsu, Intel, NEC, Google, Radisys and Nokia. The CORD initiative, formed in early 2015, focused on accelerating the adoption of open-source software-defined networking and NFV solutions for service providers using open-source platforms like ONOS, OpenStack, Docker and XOS.

A recent report from IHS Markit found 81% of service providers surveyed said they plan to deploy NFV by the end of next year, with 100% of those questioned indicating they will deploy NFV “at some point.” Showing the market’s desire to roll out platforms, the survey also found that 58% of operators have deployed or will deploy NFV this year.

“Many carriers in 2016 are moving from their NFV proof-of-concept tests and lab investigations and evaluations to working with vendors that are developing and productizing the software, which is being deployed commercially,” the firm noted.

These early deployments are expected to focus on virtualized enterprise customer premise equipment, which has seen increased importance over the past several years. IHS noted these deployments are favored due to the ability to “assist with revenue generation because it allows operators to replace physical [Customer Premise Equipment] with software so they can quickly innovate and launch new services.”

In terms of continuing challenges, IHS found integrating NFV into existing networks remains an issue for a majority of service providers surveyed, with many citing a lack of “carrier grade” products. That concern is similar to what was expressed in an IHS survey from last year, which supplanted previous concerns over operations and business support systems.
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How Google Dealt with Pokémon GO Traffic 50 Times Beyond Expecta

How Google Dealt with Pokémon GO Traffic 50 Times Beyond Expecta | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

Google Cloud got the ultimate test in July when its new customer Niantic released Pokémon GO, and the game shattered all prior estimates of player traffic. Engineers at Google and Niantic prepared for worst-case-scenario traffic at five times beyond expectations. Instead, they dealt with traffic 50 times beyond expectations.

Niantic’s engineering teams worked in concert with Google’s new Customer Reliability Engineering (CRE) group to cope with the unbelievable traffic.

Pokémon GO uses over a dozen services across Google Cloud. And it is the largest Kubernetes deployment ever on Google Container Engine.

Niantic had chosen Google Container Engine for its ability to orchestrate its container cluster at global scale to service millions of players as the game continuously adapted. “One of the more daring technical feats accomplished by Niantic and the Google CRE team was to upgrade to a newer version of Google Container Engine that would allow for more than a thousand additional nodes to be added to its container cluster,” writes Luke Stone, director of CRE in a Google corporate blog posting.

The teams cut over to the new version while millions of new players signed up and joined the Pokémon game.

On top of this upgrade, the engineers worked in concert to replace the network load balancer, deploying the newer and more sophisticated HTTP/S load balancer in its place. The HTTP/S load balancer is a global system tailored for HTTP/S traffic, offering higher throughput for the amount and types of traffic Pokémon GO was seeing.

The teams also used Google Cloud Datastore to provision extra capacity for Niantic to stay ahead of the record-setting growth.

A side benefit of the experience is that due to the scale of the container cluster and accompanying throughput, a multitude of bugs were identified, fixed, and merged into the Kubernetes open source project.

Google Makes Cloud a Top Priority
Just yesterday, at an event in San Francisco, Google announced its plans to elevate its cloud platform – now branded as Google Cloud. One of the new elements in Google Cloud is the Google Customer Reliability Engineering (CRE) team that played such an important role in the launch of Pokémon GO.

CRE is a new engagement model in which technical staff from Google integrate with customer teams, creating a shared responsibility for the success of cloud applications. Google said yesterday it plans to hire 1,000 people to help boost its cloud platform. And a big part of that is for CRE. It’s targeting a ratio of one Google engineer for every three enterprise customer engineers using Google Cloud.

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OpenDaylight Introduces 'Boron' SDN Platform Release

OpenDaylight Introduces 'Boron' SDN Platform Release | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

The industry consortium's fifth release of its SDN platform puts a focus on the cloud, NFV, performance and tools.

The OpenDaylight Project effort to create a common platform for network virtualization continues to mature with the unveiling of the group's fifth release, dubbed "Boron."
The industry consortium announced the Boron release Sept. 21, a week before the OpenDaylight Summit kicks off in Seattle Sept. 27. Project officials said the new release brings with it improvements around the cloud and network-functions virtualization (NFV), and is the result of contributions by consortium members in a range of areas, including performance and tools.
"With Boron, the OpenDaylight platform cements its position as the de facto standard platform for building next-generation networking solutions," project Executive Director Neela Jacques said in a statement. "Boron further develops and standardizes support for the industry's leading use cases, while facilitating development of innovative new approaches to solving network-related business challenges."
Anshu Agarwal, head of solutions and partner development for Hewlett Packard Enterprise's (HPE) Communications Solutions Business and an OpenDaylight board member, said in a statement that OpenDaylight has become an "open-source SDN [software-defined networking] standard for NFV use cases. Boron brings focus to the carrier-grade capabilities such as S3P [smart, safe and secure platform] and network virtualization, which are absolutely needed by these use cases."
SDN and NFV are designed to enable service providers and enterprises to build and run more programmable, flexible, automated and scalable networks to meet the growing demand from such emerging trends as the cloud, internet of things (IoT), proliferation of mobile devices and big data analytics. The technologies essentially remove the network control plane and various tasks, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, load balancing and routing, from the underlying hardware, putting it into software that can run on less-expensive, industry-standard systems.

The OpenDaylight Project was launched in 2013 with the idea of creating a common, open SDN and NFV platform that vendors could then build upon. Several other organizations, such as the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) and Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) are working on similar—and in many ways complementary—efforts.
The Boron release puts an emphasis on the cloud and NFV. The OpenDaylight group improved features related to the OpenStack open-source cloud technologies to enhance scalability and performance in such areas as high availability and persistence, and southbound enhancements around virtual network functions (VNFs) include optimization for the OpenFlow and NETCONF protocols as well as hardware VXLAN endpoint (VTEP) support and Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) improvements.
OpenDaylight's NetVirt project targeted OpenStack environments with better coordination between the OpenStack Neutron networking effort and the OpenDaylight controller, more support for IPv6, security groups, VLANs and other capabilities. OpenDaylight also has worked with OPNFV around such issues as service chaining, and OpenDaylight's Genius project brings an app-agnostic framework for application composition, according to consortium officials.
In the area of performance and tooling, OpenDaylight aimed to make it easier for SDN developers to access Boron. There are new cluster features to simplify high-availability management for applications on nondistributed networks, which officials said will make it easier for developers to write applications without having to understand the underlying hardware architecture.
Boron users also will find it easier to monitor the health of the controller due to work by the consortium's Cardinal project to deliver controller data health as a service. There also is big data analytics for streaming via Time Series Data Repository (TSDR) and OpenDaylight's Centinel project.
"With this fifth release, Boron, OpenDaylight has become more and more mature and can now be considered a key carrier-grade SDN solution for programmable, end-to-end networks," Jamil Chawki, SDN/NFV standards and open source manager for service provider Orange, said in a statement. "Important features have been included in this release like the Yang IDE tool, support of multi-network service for SFC [service function chaining] and advanced BGP L2/L3 VPN protocols."

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Orange Throws its Hat Into the Ring with AT&T’s ECOMP

Orange Throws its Hat Into the Ring with AT&T’s ECOMP | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

AT&T has found its first telecom partner to test its ECOMP platform. France-based Orange will work with AT&T to trial the platform for building software-defined networking (SDN) capabilities.

The two companies had already announced they were collaborating on open source and standards work for SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV). But it’s significant that Orange is throwing in with ECOMP, because AT&T wants other service providers to participate in its project.

AT&T has committed to releasing ECOMP as open source software and has enlisted the advice of the Linux Foundation. Without other service providers joining in, it wouldn’t be much of an open source project.

Orange will begin experimenting with ECOMP in a lab environment to be followed by a field trial as part of its On-Demand Networks program. Orange also plans to help AT&T build the open source community around ECOMP.

ECOMP, which stands for Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management, and Policy, is the software platform AT&T created to power its new, more virtualized network. Chris Rice, senior vice president of Domain 2.0 architecture and design at AT&T, said in a recent interview with SDxCentral that ECOMP is necessary for a provider of AT&T’s scale.

“You need functions like service orchestration and control, application control, network control, policy, data collections, and analytics,” Rice said. 

The carrier plans to buy virtual network functions (VNFs) from a variety of different suppliers.

“We’re building a VNF automation layer to do all those functions,” said Rice. “If you don’t, you bring together a hodgepodge of different supplier capabilities, and that doesn’t work as you start to roll out more services. What we’re trying to do is to build that VNF automation layer. It really was the missing link for SDN.”

Both AT&T and Orange also use Gigaspaces‘ open source code, Cloudify, for NFV management and network orchestration (MANO).

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Huawei and Telefónica begin work on “no cell” 5G RAN

Huawei and Telefónica begin work on “no cell” 5G RAN | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Huawei and Telefónica have announced a joint effort to explore the requirements and potential solutions for the 5G RAN, including a “no cell” approach.

Focussing on 5G and the next generation radio access network (NG-RAN), the agreement will look to create new solutions to manage the bandwidth requirements of data heavy mobile applications, internet and IoT services. According to Huawei, the ultra-high throughput, low latency and massive number of connections 5G will need to deliver means the current cellular network needs overhauling.

“Telefónica has certain insights about the future trends of the mobile network,” said David Wang, President of Huawei Wireless Network. “Huawei is investing massively in the 5G key enabling innovative technologies. The cooperation between Telefonica and Huawei will help to build a better connected world.”

“We are very pleased to have reached this further agreement with Huawei to keep cooperating on 5G and the next generation RAN,” said Telefónica CTO Enrique Blanco. “The collaboration with Huawei in this area allows sharing the true requirements of a global operator as Telefonica, and helping to focus on providing the right solutions on this Advanced Network at the right time.”

Along with CloudRAN and Massive MIMO projects, the project also focusses on creating a 5G radio user-centric no cell approach, which is a radical way of guaranteeing user mobility. recently spoke with a member of Telefónica’s global CTO team, Ignacio Berberana, who explained the concept of a cell-less RAN.

“We think that there needs to be a new way of supporting mobility, in the sense that it should not be linked to a specific cell so much, but to the user that is roaming between connections,” he said. “We call this the cell-less radio access network, and we think this is a good idea if we are going to have a network with Massive MIMO support where the cell edge is not so clear.”

“This cell-less radio is a radically different way of handling mobility and a change to currently defined standards or existing plans for 5G,” he said. “It may be difficult to support, but at least we would like to have the standards in such a way that this functionality can be incorporated later in the development of 5G.”

Following recent strides being made by Nokia, as well as Vodafone and Ericsson respectively, in launching a portable RAN solution; there appears to be significant amount of innovation going on in the radio access network area at present. Ostensibly one of the biggest challenges surrounding the commercial launch of 5G, the radio access network needs to be capable of delivering constant connectivity to users at unparalleled speeds compared to today’s LTE or even LTE-A.
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{Core Analysis}: Time to get out of consumer market for MNOs?

{Core Analysis}: Time to get out of consumer market for MNOs? | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
I was delivering a workshop on SDN / NFV in wireless, last week, at a major pan-european tier one operator group and the questions of encryption and net neutrality were put again on the table.

How much clever, elastic, agile software-defined traffic management can we really expect when "best effort" dictates the extent of traffic management and encryption renders many efforts to just understand traffic composition and velocity difficult?

There is no easy answer. I have spoken at length on both subjects (here and here, for instance) and the challenges have not changed much. Encryption is still a large part of traffic and although it is not growing as fast as initially planned after Google, Netflix, Snapchat or Facebook's announcements it is still a dominant part of data traffic. Many start to think that HTTPS / SSL is a first world solution, as many small and medium scale content or service providers that live on a freemium or ad-sponsored models can't afford the additional cost and latency unless they are forced to. Some think that encryption levels will hover around 50-60% of the total until mass adoption of HTTP/2 which could take 5+ years. We have seen, with T-Mobile's binge on  a first service launch that actively manages traffic, even encrypted to an agreed upon quality level. The net neutrality activists cried fool at the launch of the service, but quickly retreated when they saw the popularity and the first tangible signs of collaboration between content providers, aggregators and operators for customers' benefit.

As mentioned in the past, the problem is not technical, moral or academic. Encryption and net neutrality are just symptoms of an evolving value chain where the players are attempting to position themselves for dominance. The solution with be commercial and will involve collaboration in the form of content metadata exchange, to monitor, control and manage traffic. Mobile Edge Computing can be a good enabler in this. Mobile advertising, which is still missing over 20b$ in investment in the US alone when compared to other media and time spent / eyeball engagement will likely be part of the equation as well.

...but what happens in the meantime, until the value chain realigns? We have seen consumer postpaid ARPU declining in most mature markets for the last few years, while we seen engagement and usage of so-called OTT services explode. Many operators continue to keep their head in the sand and thinking of "business as usual" while timidly investigating new potential "revenue streams".

I think that the time has come for many to wake up and take hard decisions. In many cases, operators are not equipped organizationally or culturally for the transition that is necessary to flourish in a fluid environment where consumer flock to services that are free, freemium, or ad sponsored. What operators know best, subscription services see their price under intense pressure because OTTs are looking at usage and penetration at global levels, rather than per country. For these operators who understand the situation and are changing their ways, the road is still long and with many obstacles, particularly on the regulatory front, where they are not playing by the same rules as their OTT competition.

I suggest here that for many operators, it is time to get out. You had a good run, made lots of money on consumer services through 2G, 3G and early 4G, the next dollars or euros are going to be tremendously more expensive to get than the earlier.
At this point, I think there are emerging and underdeveloped verticals (such as enterprise and IoT) that are easier to penetrate (less regulatory barriers, more need for managed network capabilities and at least in the case of enterprise, more investment possibilities).
I think that at this stage, any operator who derives most of its revenue from consumer services should assume that these will likely dwindle to nothing unless drastic operational, organizational and cultural changes occur.
Some operator see the writing on the wall and have started the effort. There is no guarantee that it will work, but certainly having a software defined, virtualized elastic network will help if they are betting the farm on service agility. Others are looking at new technologies, open source and standards as they have done in the past. Aligning little boxes from industry vendors in neat powerpoint roadmap presentations, hiring a head of network transformation or virtualization... for them, the reality, I am afraid will come hard and fast. You don't invest in technologies to build services. You build services first and then look at whether you need more or new technologies to enable them.
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Vodafone Demands More from NFV Vendors

Vodafone Demands More from NFV Vendors | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Vodafone is making significant progress towards the implementation of its Ocean virtualization strategy but is still encountering some significant challenges as it works with the vendor community on its plans.

That was one of the key messages from the Vodafone's head of SDN and NFV, David Amzallag, during his keynote presentation at the Big Communications Event (BCE) here this week.

Amzallag noted previously that Ocean is now the priority strategy for Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and that significant resources are being allocated to the transformation program. (See BCE 2016: Vodafone to Make Waves With Its 'Ocean' Virtualization Strategy.)

Progress is being made in terms of the way Vodafone works internally -- the operations, engineering and technology teams within Vodafone now have to work in tandem -- and also in terms of vendor relationships. The company has already undertaken a multivendor proof of concept (PoC) for its planned new enterprise service called VPN+, which was demonstrated at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but there is plenty of work to be done to get supplier relationships to the required level.

"There are two main difficulties [in which] we are still investing a lot of effort but have not yet finalized the approach or standpoint," noted Amzallag.

The first is "the new pricing model -- how we are going to negotiate with vendors and how we are going to be charged for orchestration software or SDN controllers. The industry is absolutely not consolidated here and that's an understatement," stated the Vodafone man, who has been shocked at the range of different models being proposed by different suppliers.

We Want It Like This

Vodafone's David Amzallag spells out what the operator needs from the NFV development community.
The second is "an open issue for the industry is the way that VNFs are being expected to be onboarded," noted the Vodafone man. "We have seen in a lot of cases that vendors are thinking in terms of boxes when they are allocating virtualized resources. This creates a misalignment in the amount of resources needed. So, onboarding is one of the main topics in this journey and as part of our activities we will sharing a set of expectations, some guidance, with the vendors around pricing models and onboarding."

Amzallag is looking to resolve such issues quickly as he is moving ahead with the early stages of the Ocean strategy, starting with plans to launch a new, centralized cloud-based platform for the entire portfolio of messaging applications this July that will work across the whole Vodafone Group. "Centralization and cloudification are key elements in our strategy," he noted.

After that he is planning what he calls a "Mega PoC" for a complex virtual network function (VNF), working together with teams from across the Vodafone group (operations, engineering, technology, security, integration, local and centralized staff) who will all need to become skilled at how to run centralized processes.

After that, Vodafone will work towards the introduction of VPN+ as a commercial service across Vodafone's international empire, which comprises 60 separate operators. The idea is to replace during the next few years the current portfolio of VPN products with a single VPN product that can be used across the group: Amzallag says VPN+ will be introduced as a commercial product in the first markets before the end of the current financial year (ending March 2017).

Which vendors will be used for that? The ones involved in the earlier VPN+ demonstration -- ADVA/Overture, Aria Networks, Amdocs, Juniper Networks, Red Hat and Fortinet -- look to have an advantage but Amzallag isn't giving anything away. "We are now selecting the right vendors for the commercial deployment -- it may be these vendors [from the earlier VPN+ PoC] but it may be others," he noted.
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{Core Analysis}: MEC: The 7B$ opportunity

{Core Analysis}: MEC: The 7B$ opportunity | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Extracted from Mobile Edge Computing 2016.
Executive summary
Table of contents

Defining an addressable market for an emerging product or technology is always an interesting challenge. On one hand, you have to evaluate the problems the technology solves and their value to the market, and on the other hand, appreciate the possible cost structure and psychological price expectations from the potential buyer / users.

This warrants a top down and bottoms up approach to look at how the technology can contribute or substitute some current radio and core networks spending, together with a cost based review of the potential physical and virtual infrastructure. [...]

The cost analysis is comparatively easy, as it relies on well understood current cost structure for physical hardware and virtual functions. The assumptions surrounding the costs of the hardware has been reviewed with main x86 based hardware vendors. The VNFs pricing relies on discussions with large and emerging telecom equipment vendors for standard VNFs such as EPC, IMS, encoding, load balancers, DPI… price structure. Traditional telco professional services, maintenance and support costs are apportioned and included in the calculations.

The overall assumption is that MEC will become part of the fabric of 5G networks and that MEC equipment will cover up to 20% of a network (coverage or population) when fully deployed.
The report features total addressable market, cumulative and incremental for MEC equipment vendors and integrator, broken down by CAPEX / OPEX, consumer, enterprises and IoT services.
It then provides a review of operators opportunities and revenue model for each segment.
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Brocade VNF Manager – Bringing end-to-end NFV/SDN Solutions to reality

Brocade VNF Manager – Bringing end-to-end NFV/SDN Solutions to reality | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Brocade, in continuation of leading the disruption in the industry, is taking another bold step to embrace a fully open source and open systems approach to networking. Today, Brocade is launching Brocade VNF Manager, a commercial pure play distribution of OpenStack Tacker.
Tacker, is a project that has incubated inside OpenStack. It plays the role of the VNF Manager, which is all about the lifecycle management of VNFs. Tacker has evolved into a Tier-1 Project in OpenStack with a growing community participation and a mission to build NFV Orchestration software. Tacker’s goal is to achieve end-to-end Life-cycle management of Network Services and Virtual Network Functions. This service is designed to be compatible with the ETSI NFV Architecture Framework  and other emerging NFV Orchestration architectures.
Sridhar Ramaswamy, the PTL of OpenStack Tacker, gives the context and an overview of the NFV Orchestration OpenSource project Tacker, its features, and roadmap here
Brocade has focused on making significant contributions to the foundational architecture of Tacker — in the areas of reliability, scalability and programmability—in order to strengthen the Project itself as a fully viable platform for the industry and for developers to rally around. 
Brocade VNF Manager is an application focused on NFV orchestration based on the OpenStack Tacker Project. It provides automated NFV orchestration and VNF management using standards-based architectures. Through a combination of VNF health monitoring and lifecycle management, Brocade VNF Manager helps organizations automate network service delivery while simplifying their NFV deployment. 
The Brocade VNF Manager is built continuously from the core Tacker project to ensure that our VNF Manager always remains in sync with the Project: Everything that works with the Tacker code will work with the Brocade VNF Manager – a pure play approach to open source.
With Brocade VNF Manager, we are bringing together the worlds of Network and Service Orchestration with SDN via the Brocade SDN Controller. This is a great example of how Brocade VNF Manager can be used for instantiating the VNF’s and load them with initial configuration. These VNF’s can then be mounted and configured using Brocade SDN controller’s south-bound interfaces. Brocade VNF Manager integrated with the Brocade SDN Controller applies service specific configurations to VNFs using south-bound interfaces like NETCONF. 
The VNF Manager itself is easy to download, install and maintain. We’ll be providing a fully tested and documented downloadable image with installation tools and an intuitive GUI. Also Brocade will be managing a lot of the administrative overhead that comes with software management: interoperability testing for VNF’s, testing with OpenDaylight based SDN Controllers and more.
You can download the code and start playing with it. You can get a free trial of the Brocade's commercially supported Tacker distribution here.
The free download is a full-featured VNF Manager with a 60-day license, and also comes with 60 days of free TAC support to help you get up and running.
Beyond the free download, we break things down for operations and developers, since different groups need different things.
For Operations, the production edition is licensed on a per-VM basis for 1 or 3-year subscription terms. It’s very inexpensive to start small and scale out, again, using existing hardware and software infrastructure. The licenses include Brocade TAC support as well.
The Developer Edition of VNF Manager is also licensed for 1- or 3-year subscription terms. Special developer-focused training sessions are available, as is consulting with our deep bench of Tacker experts for design and code reviews and more. 
Professional services, including 1- and 2-day in-person training sessions and customer-specific integrations are also available.
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YouTube, Twitter, Facebook: more live video but no plans to commission content 

YouTube and Twitter plan to bring more live video to their respective platform, but neither has plans to commission their own content on the model of traditional media companies, executives from both companies told attendees at a Royal Television Society event in London last night. Twitter is likely to do more deals to bring live video to its platform following its live deal with the US National Football League, but has no plans to begin commissioning content, according to its UK chief. Dara Nasr Speaking at an RTS event, Social Media Muscles in on TV, Twitter’s UK managing director, Dara Nasr, said that Twitter worked with the the NFL on ‘as live’ before moving to live video. “This was the next iteration of our relationship with them,” he said. “Live is big for us. We want to partner with people and they want money.” While live content is a key part of Twitter’s plans, Nasr said the social media platform had no intention to start commissioning programming itself. “We celebrate content producers and we’d love it for them to use our platform,” he said. Speaking at the same event, Stephen Nuttall, senior director of YouTube, EMEA, said that the online video platform is a “longstanding believer” in live video. “We are seeing many creators experiment with live. Sky News is 24/7 live on YouTube and many other channels are also there.” Nuttall said that BT had made the Champions and Europa League finals available free-to-air live on channels including YouTube, which led to a double-digit increase in viewership of the matches shown on top of the live TV audience. “If you take TV [broadcast], we added a double digit increase to that audience,” he said. The airing of the matches had given BT a database of a large audience that could be interested in live sports, which are now likely to be advertised with sports package offers later.  He said that 60% of viewing of YouTube is now on mobile screens, but people had still watched those football matches for as long on YouTube as they did on TV, with 40 minutes of each match viewed on average. Nuttall said YouTube would not have a significant role in creating its own content. He said it was a platform for distribution that can work with all sorts of content creators and help them reach the audience they want to reach. “There is unlimited choice available online,” he said. Nuttall drew a distinction between fostering original content created and published by others and commissioning content itself. While it will not produce its own content, YouTube is “working with some established creators to allow them to create shows they would not otherwise create”, he said. YouTube recently hired Susanne Daniels from MTV to be head of original content, in Nuttall’s words, “to help people broaden out the range of content” that they are creating. “Digital influencers often work with established production companies like MCNs,” he said, adding that YouTube had some skills to bring to the party but noting that it would be a mistake to draw a big distinction between online and TV in terms of the types of content created for each. Premium content, including ‘originals’, is now available on the YouTube Red service in the US and some international markets, which makes content available on an advertising-free basis for a subscription. “[Red] has rolled out outside the US and I expect it will be in more international markets,” he said, without being specific. YouTube Red distributes content created by partners. Nuttall said that there had been an enormous expansion in the range of channels that exist. “You don’t necessarily have to be commissioned to put the content out there. You [creators] can do it yourself. You can get funding from brands or make money on your own. We are seeing profound change. As the proportion of ad spend on online platforms increases you will see more innovation and not less,” he said. Patrick Walker Patrick Walker Nuttall said that YouTube reinvests more than half of the money it makes from video in content. “We share more than half of our gross revenue with the people who make the content,” he said, arguing that this rate was similar to the BBC and superior to some commercial broadcasters. Also speaking at the event, Patrick Walker, Facebook’s director of media partnerships in EMEA said that live video has “really taken off” on Facebook. Professional news journalists are now creating significant amounts of content on the platform, he said. “About two thirds of views of live videos are actually ‘after live’,” he said. Use of the live API helped media companies “lean in to user comments” to help them know how best to market their content, he added.
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AT&T joins T-Mobile and Sprint with video optimization platform

AT&T joins T-Mobile and Sprint with video optimization platform | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

AT&T said planned launch of its Stream Saver service early next year will allow for customer control over streaming video quality. AT&T Mobility is following smaller rivals T-Mobile US and Sprint in offering a video optimization plan for customers, which is set to launch early next year. AT&T said the service, dubbed Stream Saver, will be offered for free to “customers on our most popular plans with data” including its prepaid GoPhone service. The carrier claims the platform will dial-back video quality of most high-definition content to standard-definition quality, or about 480p. The description seems to indicate the service will be automatically enabled on accounts, with customers having the ability to disable the quality limitation. “You control Stream Saver and can turn it off or back on for any qualified line at any time at myAT&T or Premier for business customers,” the carrier noted. “There is no charge to disable or enable Stream Saver.” In addition to saving data for consumers, the platform looks set to allow AT&T Mobility to save on valuable spectrum resources. The carrier has repeatedly cited the explosive growth of data traffic moving across its mobile network, with video singled out as a significant driver of that increase. During this year’s AT&T Developer Summit & Hackathon, Tom Keathley, SVP for wireless network architecture and design for AT&T Technology and Operations, noted video generated between 40% and 50% of data traffic on the carrier’s mobile network and more than 50% of traffic on its wired network. Those numbers are only expected to increase, with Keathley citing the often-cited Cisco Systems’ forecast of video traffic set to generate 70% of mobile data traffic by 2018. In looking to tackle the video bear, Keathley named a number of options, including the limiting of video stream quality to match a device screen’s capabilities. Keathley said that option would see video streaming quality limited to 480p resolution for smartphones, which he noted most consumers would be hard pressed to distinguish from higher resolutions. Another option outlined by Keathley was video pacing, which instead of attempting to download a video clip in its entirety as fast as possible, keeps the downloaded material just ahead of what is being watched so as to not waste network resources should the viewer decide to ditch the action before the video ends. Keathley also touched on the LTE Broadcast standard, noting AT&T has been experimenting with the technology and it’s indeed showing promise. LTE Broadcast uses multicast streaming technology to deliver video content from a single site to multiple users covered by that site instead of the current unicast technology where each user on a single site receives their own dedicated stream. One of the disadvantages to multicast systems is they require a dedicated chunk of spectrum, which if a site is only supporting a single user results in spectrum being wasted. However, Keathley noted multicast technology like LTE Broadcast would be a good solution for larger events where most consumers being served by a single site are more likely to be watching the same video stream. Video optimization now across 3 nationwide carriers The Stream Saver platform in operation appears similar to T-Mobile US’ Binge On and Sprint’s video optimization services, though with the caveat those two services when enabled do not cut into a customer’s data allotment. Of course, both T-Mobile US and Sprint are also aggressively pushing “unlimited” data buckets that for an extra monthly fee include the ability to stream unlimited HD video content. T-Mobile US’ Binge On service, which launched last year, initially drew net neutrality concerns and a letter from the Federal Communications Commission. The carrier looked to skirt those concerns by allowing customers to control the video optimization service. Keathley earlier this year said AT&T did not internally transcode or transrate video content, but that the carrier has been looking at the possibility. He noted a “competitor” had indeed been the first to implement such a program, but cited the controversy the move has generated. “We will watch how that plays out and follow a course of action,” Keathley said. AT&T earlier this year took a step towards streamlining its video delivery pricing, moving to zero-rate streaming video content from its DirecTV and U-verse video platforms for its wireless customers. The move was part of an update to the DirecTV application that includes a new “data free TV” option allowing for the viewing of video content with it counting against an AT&T Mobility data package. Verizon Wireless also allows users of its Go90 video platform to stream content without impacting their data allotments.

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TIPping point

TIPping point | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
For those of you familiar with this blog, you know that I have been advocating for more collaboration between content providers and network operators for a long time (here and here for instance). 

In my new role at Telefonica, I support a number of teams of talented intra-preneurs, tasked with inventing Telefonica's next generation networks, to serve the evolving needs of our consumers, enterprises and things at a global level. Additionally, connecting the unconnected and fostering sustainable, valuable connectivity services is a key mandate for our organization.

Very quickly, much emphasis has been put in delivering specific valuable use cases, through a process of hypothesis validation through prototyping, testing and commercial trials in compressed time frames. I will tell you more about Telefonica's innovation process in a future blog.

What has been clear is that open source projects, and SDN have been a huge contributing factor to our teams' early successes. It is quite impossible to have weekly releases, innovation sprints and rapid prototyping without the flexibility afforded by software-defined networking. What has become increasingly important, as well, is the necessity, as projects grow and get transitioned to our live networks to prepare people and processes for this more organic and rapid development. There are certainly many methodologies and concepts to enhance teams and development's agility, but we have been looking for a hands-on approach that would be best suited to our environment as a networks operator.

As you might have seen, Telefonica has joined Facebook's Telecom Infra Project earlier this year and we have found this collaboration helpful. We are renewing our commitment and increase our areas of interest beyond the Media Friendly Group and the Open Cellular Project with the announcement of our involvement with the People and Processes group. Realizing that - beyond technology- agility, adaptability, predictability and accountability are necessary traits of our teams, we are committing ourselves to sustainably improve our methods in recruitment, training, development, operations and human capital.

We are joining other network operators that have started - or will start- this journey and looking forward to share with the community the results of our efforts, and the path we are taking to transform our capabilities and skills.
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OpenStack Newton Addresses Containers and Bare Metal

OpenStack Newton Addresses Containers and Bare Metal | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
OpenStack Newton, the 14th major release of the open source cloud framework, debuts today with a bit of a spotlight on networking.

“In this release specifically, there were a lot of things on the networking side that do a good job tying together enterprise technology and containers and bare metal,” says Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the OpenStack Foundation.

Of course, the release includes the usual trove of incremental improvements that help with things like scalability and overall usefulness. But it’s been interesting to watch the progression of some projects that are helping OpenStack extend beyond the world of virtual machines.

In a conversation with SDxCentral, Bryce described a few of the new features related to Neutron (OpenStack‘s networking project), explaining how they make the platform more useful with containers and bare metal.

Related: OpenStack Mitaka: Telco NFV, ‘Intent,’ & Neutron
Ironic is the OpenStack project for provisioning workloads onto bare metal — that is, servers that don’t come with a particular operating system pre-loaded. With Newton, Ironic has tighter ties to Neutron, which was created as a way to network virtual machines and is now being spruced up for bare metal and containers. For instance, when Neutron is deployed onto bare metal, it will now know what security and access control policies should be applied to each port.

On the container side, there’s Kuryr, a networking project that’s like Neutron for containers.

“Containers are kind of the opposite side of bare metal,” Bryce says. “When you run containers, they don’t have their own networking stack, because those containers are little slices inside the host operating system.”

In other words, containers don’t have an OS of their own; they share one. That’s one reason why the networking of containers takes some work, and why managing them in bulk can be challenging, he says.

Kuryr features introduced in Newton include the project’s first integrations with Docker Swarm and Kubernetes, two popular options for container orchestration.

Magnum is a container orchestration manager, also described as containers-as-a-service. Launched in late 2014, the project gives operators a way to call up containers much in the way they call up compute instances. It’s an aid to the usual container orchestration tools: Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and Mesos.

Some of the new features in Magnum include support for Kubernetes clusters on bare metal (which relates back to the Kuryr and Ironic projects) and asynchronous cluster creation.

Related: Walmart Offers OpenStack a 6th Birthday Present
Get Me a Network — yes, that’s its actual name — is a new feature for Nova, the OpenStack project related to computing software.

It’s the networking option you would use “if you were just getting started and you didn’t know what you wanted your network to look like,” Bryce says. In many cases, Neutron requires every tenant to have networking configurations set, which is a complication for those who don’t know networking.

Get Me a Network simplifies the process for those folks. A typical use case would be someone who wants to deploy just a couple of virtual machines and doesn’t need any complicated networking.

Mutable configuration settings are a new convenience factor added to Nova. When new configuration options become available, it’s now possible to add them into an OpenStack node without having to reboot.

VLAN-aware virtual machines are a networking feature with implications for network functions virtualization (NFV). OpenStack can be used as the virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) in an NFV deployment, and that use case has helped attract telecom developers to the framework.

The new feature lets an operator use a virtual LAN to move traffic toward a particular virtual networking function (VNF) housed inside a virtual machine. This can be useful in cases where an application needs the dynamic nature of a VLAN — or when a pre-OpenStack application was written in a way that was meant to take advantage of VLANs.

Non-High Tech Users
One OpenStack trend not directly reflected in Newton is the increasing commercial worthiness of the framework. OpenStack is an archipelago of projects, but several vendors offer their own commercial versions of it, the appeal being that the customer wouldn’t have to puzzle over how to assemble everything.

“We’ve gotten to that point where it’s mature enough and there are enough commercial options. We see non-high-tech companies adopting it,” Bryce says.

One example he holds up is JFE Steel in Japan, which has moved OpenStack into a production cloud.

“The thing that’s interesting about it is that they’re a steel company. This isn’t Paypal or eBay. They don’t have thousands of developers,” Bryce says. (Paypal and eBay do happen to be OpenStack users, by the way.)

OpenStack Newton is available now at The next OpenStack release is named Ocata, after a beach in Spain, and is due for release on Feb. 23.
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AT&T expands SDN-based Network On Demand features under FlexWare

AT&T expands SDN-based Network On Demand features under FlexWare | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Former AT&T Network Functions on Demand service sprouts new options under the FlexWare brand, targeting enterprise with SDN-based options

AT&T’s Network On Demand platform is sprouting new features as the telecom giant continues to target enterprise customers with its software-based offerings.

The carrier said its previously dubbed Network Functions on Demand service now includes a new device option, enhanced feature functionality and broader reach under the now named FlexWare banner. AT&T said FlexWare is designed to allow business customers to set up multiple virtual network functions on a single device and deploy them in different countries, or manage their network functions using an online portal.

The single-device management is available through either a “small” device said to support up to two VNF applications, which joins the previously offered and still available “larger” version designed to run up to four VNFs. AT&T also noted enterprises can “mix and match” FlexWare devices and applications to meet demand.

Beyond the functionality and device updates, AT&T said it is adding Palo Alto Networks’ security platform to its VNF catalog.

AT&T claims more than 1,700 businesses have signed up for its Network on Demand platform since it was launched. The Ethernet-based service taps virtualization technologies like software-defined networking and network functions virtualization to allow enterprise customers to order more ports, add or change services, scale bandwidth and manage services via an online portal.

AT&T Business Solutions CEO Ralph de la Vega earlier this year noted the company’s NOD platform allowed it to roll out new services across the company in weeks, and companies taking advantage of the service were able to alter, for instance, their network speed in less than 90 seconds.

“There is no need to call a salesperson, there is no need to order equipment, there is no need to set up another connection – it happens in 90 seconds,” de la Vega said. “And what I love about it is my revenue cycle is 90 seconds. That’s a pretty good deal when you can lower [capital expense], [operating expense]and shorten the revenue cycle for your business. So we have now turned up our Network On Demand, we have thousands of customers on it.”

In July, AT&T said it expanded the NOD platform into 76 countries and territories, including parts of the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

A recent report from Technology Business Research noted AT&T was furthest along in terms of virtualization deployments, noting the telecom operator has been aggressive in its deployments, citing its AT&T Integrated Cloud, Network on Demand and its enhanced control, orchestration, management and policy project, which AT&T said is designed to automate network services and infrastructure running in a cloud environment.

“AT&T’s strategy with respect to these initiatives is to gain the benefits of NFV as quickly as possible,” noted TBR executive telecom analyst Michael Sullivan-Trainor. “AT&T hopes to work out the technical options in initial deployments, then scale those deployments across its footprint before finally federating the solution.”
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Tech giants to drive 5G car vision with automakers 

Tech giants to drive 5G car vision with automakers  | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Big name mobile players and car manufacturers today teamed to form the ‘5G Automotive Association’, a new group pledging to develop solutions addressing road safety and self-driving through connected car solutions.

Consisting of global vendors Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Qualcomm, technology firm Intel and automobile giants Audi, BMW and Daimler, the association said it will develop and test communications solutions with applications “such as connected automated driving, ubiquitous access to services and integration into smart cities and intelligent transportation”.

The project is already being regarded as a way for the mobile and car industries to build technology expertise necessary to take on new rivals like Uber and Google, which are also working on autonomous driving technology.

The group’s work will extend to supporting standardisation, while accelerating commercial availability and global market penetration.

The 5G aspect of the partnership will focus on the shift towards IoT and digitalisation of industries, which includes the development of car specific solutions like Cellular Vehicle to Everything (C-V2X) communication.

It explained that 5G will be better placed to support mission critical communications for safer driving, and “will further support enhanced vehicle to everything communications and mobility solutions”.

Nokia back in the ring
Nokia, which last year sold its digital mapping business HERE to the three automakers involved in the project, said the association is the “latest example of Nokia’s close relationship with the automotive industry to make the driverless car a reality”.

“Cloud, communications and networking technologies and innovations have the potential to transform the car into a full connected device to revolutionise the driver experience and address society’s mobility needs,” said Marc Rouanne, the company’s chief innovation and operating officer.

Some of the work it aims to complete includes running joint innovation and development projects, with large scale pilots and trials planned, while also addressing “vehicle to everything technology requirements”, such as wireless connectivity, privacy and security.
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Telco's Got Talent? It's Audition Time for SDN/NFV Startups 

Telco's Got Talent? It's Audition Time for SDN/NFV Startups  | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Eager to engage with a new breed of hot virtualization startups, three of Europe's telecom operator old guard have taken inspiration from TV talent shows to issue a "Call for Innovation" to SDN and NFV startups.

The telco trio -- Sweden's Telia Company , Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) and Belgium's Proximus (formerly Belgacom) -- appear to be frustrated with the current pace of next-gen functions and apps development and so have created a comms industry virtualization talent show in order to engage with virtualization startups.

The three national operators have developed an online portal simply titled Call for Innovation that asks "Next Gen Virtual Telco Functions & Services Startups (SDN/NFV 2.0)" to help them "solve actual problems and help us with innovative solutions to create greater value for our customers."

They want the startups to build on the groundwork already done with the open source code developed for OpenStack, OPNFV and CloudFoundry and propose "new networking functions, cloud-native implementation of existing network functions, and new Telco services we could offer in the market."

The sky, it seems, is the limit for the telcos, as they are using rocket-launch imagery to attract the attention of startups: "You've got the rocket, we’ve got the fuel -- let's go" they proclaim in their marketing campaign.

Further details are available on the website, but basically the startups are being asked to come up with ideas in four key areas:

Cloud-native OSS and BSS systems: None of the old stuff running on a centralized server, please.
Cloud-native Telco Functions: These include next-gen deep packet inspection (DPI), carrier-grade NAT, broadband network gateway (BNG) and other functions. Again, these need to be built from the ground up for a cloud environment, rather than be a legacy tool juiced up with some extra APIs.
New 'End-to-End' Apps/Services: Enterprise applications designed to work across the cloud, from the data center to the customer premises, and suitable for use with all sizes of companies, including SMEs.
Access Network Hardware: The telcos want a new breed of boxes for the edge of the network, making use of open source hardware, that have separate data and control plane functionality. In an interesting detail, the telco trio are asking for these new boxes to support mobile edge computing (MEC) deployments. (See ETSI Gets Edgy About Mobile.)
SDN and NFV startups have been around for a few years now, but it seems clear that operators believe the current, already established startups aren't being innovative enough and they're looking for something more -- they're looking for SDN/NFV 2.0, to put a label on it.

And while neither Telia, Swisscom or Proximus has the scale and heft of a Deutsche Telekom, all three are important, influential operators that, combined, offer a fantastic opportunity for any startup to put themselves in the limelight and make a break from obscurity to becoming a hot startup.

Let's see who comes out of the woodwork and makes it through the auditions…
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Facebook continues infrastructure push with OpenCellular

Facebook continues infrastructure push with OpenCellular | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
US social networking giant Facebook has added another string to its networking bow with the OpenCellular open source wireless access platform.

Facebook says the platform is aimed at improving connectivity in remote areas, thanks to its portability, simplicity and flexibility. The system is composed of two main subsystems: general-purpose and base-band computing (GBC) with integrated power and housekeeping system, and radio frequency (RF) with integrated analogue front-end.

“With OpenCellular, we want to develop affordable new technology that can expand capacity and make it more cost-effective for operators to deploy networks in places where coverage is scarce,” said the announcement. “By open-sourcing the hardware and software designs for this technology, we expect costs to decrease for operators and to make it accessible to new participants.”

Facebook had previously announced another couple of initiatives aimed at bringing connectivity to underserved environments. In April of this year it launched Terragraph – a gigabit urban public wifi scheme using the 60 GHz band – and Project ARIES – a massive MIMO base station with 96 antennas with an eye on spectral efficiency.

As with the earlier projects OpenCellular is still at the planning phase and Facebook is looking for partners to take it into the field. It also intends to contribute OpenCellular to the Telecom Infra Project and is inviting interested parties to get in touch at
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Ericsson and NTT claim successful 5G network slicing trials

Ericsson and NTT claim successful 5G network slicing trials | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
Ericsson and Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo have claimed the achievement of a key milestone in developing 5G-ready technologies.

In a proof of concept (PoC) trial, the Swedish vendor has said it has successfully demonstrated dynamic network slicing for 5G core networks. The trial, according to Ericsson, shows how to virtually partition a physical network into multiple logical networks which are capable of simultaneously co-existing and delivering separate services along the same infrastructure.

This maximizing of physical infrastructure resource is supposed to enable self-optimization and fulfil the specific latency, security or capacity requirements of 5G services, Ericsson says. DoCoMo designed the network slice creation and selection functions, while Ericsson contributed technologies to manage the lifecycle and delivery of services over the sliced network, using its commercial cloud products.

“Network slicing has the potential to simultaneously deliver diverse cutting-edge 5G services, for enhanced entertainment as well as further effective and secure communication,” said Hiroshima Nakamura, GM of R&D Strategy Department at NTT DoCoMo. “We expect the results of our PoC with Ericsson will play an important role in the realization of highly efficient and secure 5G networking technologies.”

The successful conclusion of the PoC draws to a close nearly two years of active research and trials in 5G network slicing technologies. Further technology exploration will continue, according to Ericsson’s VP of Technology, Business Unit Cloud and IP, Håkan Djuphammar.

“Our cooperation on 5G with DoCoMo confirms our companies’ long-term relationship and our joint commitment to 5G,” he said. “This PoC demonstrates the capability of 5G to support fast, efficient and flexible introduction of new services, and to enable differentiated characteristics like speed, latency and reliability.”

Ericsson will be demoing the network slicing technology at 5G World in London this June.
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China Mobile and ZTE launch ‘world’s largest’ NFV network

China Mobile and ZTE launch ‘world’s largest’ NFV network | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |

ZTE has announced China Mobile has officially initiated the commercialisation of its rich communication services (RCS) network, which it claims is currently the largest NFV IMS network in the world. As a strategic partner, ZTE working alongside the team at China Mobile to develop virtual IP multimedia subsystem (vIMS) based RCS project. The project was initially reported last year as China Mobile seemingly searched for opportunities to combat the rising OTT threat, notably the increasing popularity of WeChat. “ZTE’s RCS converged communication system re-defines basic communication services allowing China Mobile to build new calling, messaging and contact services,” said Gong Dehua, VP of ZTE’s core network product line. “It also allows the upgrading of traditional voice and messaging service experiences, realising new information service platforms with open capabilities and channels.” Having run various trials amongst its 550,000 employees, China Mobile claims the initial capacity planned to be 100 million subscribers, and supports RCS including multimedia messaging, network voice calling, video calling and address book capabilities. By way of comparison, WeChat is estimated to have almost 700 million users (as of Q4 2015), driving revenues through Moments advertising, location based advertising and brand partnerships. WeChat owner Tencent recently reported annual revenues of $15.8 billion, an increase of 30% from the previous period. China Mobile has long been making efforts to compete against the OTT’s, having been one of the first to utilize such platforms with its internet-based Fetion texting service. While the service was initially popular, smaller and more nimble platforms such as WeChat and Youku were able to create more flexible offerings for content providers and more relevant platforms for users. Fetion was ultimately retired after facing declining users on June 30.

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F5 launches SDN-enabled network management suite

F5 launches SDN-enabled network management suite | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
F5 has announced the launch of a suite of services designed to speed up the roll out of services and applications, leaning heavily on SDN.

The vendor announced a bulked up portfolio of offerings and platforms designed to provide visibility, reporting, licensing and management capabilities to enhance the operations of its existing BIG-IP product range. The upgrade, F5 claims, combines centralised, role-based management for application delivery, as well as security and identity management.

Building up the control of physical and virtual devices, F5 says customers can now simultaneously manage, update and configure application services.

Its new iWorkflow platform is an SDN-centric offering which harnesses the management and orchestration characteristics of software for network operations. It claims the solution can be rolled out as a virtual appliance and supports a variety of multi-tenant solutions and IT environments including hybrid cloud models. F5 says policies can be deployed directly through its own GUI or using third party solutions such as Cisco ACI or VMware NSX.

Along with the other product announcements, F5 also introduced its BIG-IP Application Security Manager, which brings with it customisable bot detection methods to help users analyse and track suspicious device activity.

“To better meet the needs of customers, we have made significant investments in security, management, and orchestration, along with the feature-rich software that supports our flagship BIG-IP product line,” said Karl Triebes, CTO of F5. “Giving organisations the ability to integrate F5 with vendors and solutions such as AWS, Azure, Cisco, and VMware is certainly a priority, but we also have an eye toward making sure our offerings resonate with those using open source technologies like OpenStack, and agile infrastructure from emerging ‘born in the cloud’ companies.”
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{Core Analysis}: NFV costs expectation gap

{Core Analysis}: NFV costs expectation gap | SDN, NFV and cloud in mobile |
I am fresh off from an interesting week in sunny San Jose, at the NFV World Congress, where I chaired the operations stream on the first day.

As usual, it is a week where operators and vendors jostle to show off their progress since last year and highlight the challenges ahead. before I speak about the new and cool developments in terms of stateless VNFs, open source orchestration, containers, kubernetes and unikernels, I felt the need to share some observations regarding diverging expectations from traditional telecoms vendors, VNF vendors, systems integrators and operators.

While a large part of the presentations showed a renewed focus on operations in NFV, a picture started to emerge in my mind in terms of expectations between vendors, systems integrators and operators at the show.

Essentially, everyone expects that the hardware bill for a virtualized network will reduce, due to the transition to x86 hardware. While this transition might mean less efficiency in the short term, all players seem to think that it will resolve itself over the next few years. In the meantime, DPDK and SR-IOV are used to address the performance gap between virtualization and traditional appliance, even at the cost of agility. By my estimate, the hardware cost reduction demonstrated by VNF vendors and systems integrators still falls short of operators expectations. Current figure places them around a 30% cost reduction vs. traditional model, whereas operators' expectations hover between 50 to 66%.

This is an area where we see sharp expectations variations between all actors in the value chain.
VNF vendors expect to be able to somehow capture some of the hardware savings and translate them into additional license fees. This thinking is boosted by the need for internal business case to transition from appliance to software, to virtualized and eventually to orchestrated VNF. We are still very early in the market and software licensing models for VNFs are all over the place, in many case simply translated from the appliance model in other cases built from scratch but with little understanding of he value of specific functions in the overall service chain. Increased competition and market entering from non-traditional telco vendors will level the licensing structure over time.

Systems integrators are increasingly looking at VNFs as disposable. Operators tell them that they want to be able to have little dependency on vendors and to replace VNFs and vendors as needed, even running different vendors for the same function in different settings or slices. Systems integrator are buying into the rationale and are privileging their own VNFs, putting emphasis (and price premium) on their NFVI (infrastructure) and VNFM (management). Of course this leads also to the conclusion that while VNFs (and VNF vendors) should be interchangeable, the NFV MANO (management and orchestration) function will be very sticky and will likely stay a single vendor proposition in a given network. As a result, some are predicted the era of orchestrators war, which certainly feels timely, after the SDN management war (winner OpenStack), southbound interface war (winner OpenFlow), hypervisor war winner (KVM)...
I have spoken at length about the danger operators expose themselves if they vacate the orchestration field and leave systems integrators to rule it. It seems to have gained some traction with open source orchestration projects being pushed in standards. In any case, VNF vendors expect a growth in software licensing vs. appliance model, whereas integrators and operators expect a reduction.

Professional services
This is the area where everyone sees to agrees that an increase is inevitable. SDN and NFV provide layers upon layers of abstraction and while standards and open source are not fully defined, there is much integration and "enhancements" necessary to make a service on NFV work.
VNF vendors and operators who do not want to perform integration themselves usually expect a 50% increase vs. appliance projects, whereas integrators budget a robust 100% increase in average. This, of course, increases even further if the integrator is managing the infrastructure / service itself.

Maintenance and support
Vendors and integrators expect the ratio of these to be essentially comparable  to appliance models, whereas operators expect a sharp reduction, in light of all professional services being extended for integration and automation.

VNF vendors behind closed doors will usually admit that, in the short term, the cost of rolling out a new VNF function /service might be a little higher than appliance, due to the performance gap and increase in professional services. There are sharp variations between traditional vendors that are porting their solutions to NFV and new vendors that cloud-native and have designed their solution for a software defined virtualized environment.
Systems integrator can show an overall cost reduction but usually because of proprietary "enhancements and optimization".
All are confident, though that automation and orchestration makes operation of existing services much cheaper and ramping up of new ones much faster. Expectations are that VNF architecture will be much more cost effective than appliance on a 3 to 5 years TCO model. Operators, on their end expect a NFV architecture to yield savings from day one, compared to appliance and to further increase this gap over a 3 years period.
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