Turning a Corner on NFV Operationalization and Monetization

May 09, 2016

by Tim McElligott

The motivation to change sometimes has tragic roots. Such was the case for the country of Japan when a natural disaster in the form of a tsunami triggered a human tragedy in 2011 that continues today. One of the many changes the country realized it had to make was transforming  its communications networks to make them more adaptable and responsive to mass failures and overwhelming demand without taking redundancy to the extreme.

NEC responded to a government mandate to make these changes with a plan to virtualize its infrastructure solutions and implement a software defined architecture. It is not a new story. NEC and its software and services subsidiary, Netcracker, have told the story before. This week, however, the story takes a new and welcome turn with the launch of new platforms and service that illustrate a path forward for operating not only in this new network, but in a hybrid network world. Although the following developments may not help those who fell victim to the ravages of the tsunami and its aftermath, they could help those who will almost surely face such threats in the future, saving lives and limiting suffering. In a more narrow sense, NEC's response, joined by Netcracker, will help move the communications industry forward, potentially.

NEC/Netcracker NFV/SDN Solutions has taken a decisive step in laying out a new vision for the operationalization and monetization of virtual, software driven network services. This week, the company presented a transformation path for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) that addresses, at last, open questions about connecting the ETSI Management and Orchestration (MANO) functions of NFV to the legacy infrastructure and services that will still generate the bulk of revenue for years to come. The innovations by NEC/Net cracker will not be the final word on operationalizing and monetizing NFV, but they support a well-conceived plan that seizes the initiative in a space, a vacuum really, that is crying out for answers on how to move forward.

Yes, work on NFV and SDN has been underway industry-wide for a couple of years now. However, neither a sound roadmap nor a comprehensible story has been forthcoming for how to manage and orchestrate services over a hybrid network. For a new paradigm that is supposed to be software driven, the old paradigm of networking companies taking the lead has prevailed. This is the first public hint that software and services suppliers are ready to assume that role.

NEC/Netcracker's new approach is called Agile Virtualization Platform and Practices (AVP,) with emphasis on the "practices." The platform contains much new technology, but acknowledges that supporting NFV/SDN will require a much closer services and best-practices approach to transformation. Other components of AVP include a Virtual Development and Operations Center (VDOC), Hybrid Operations Management (HOM), and Business Enablement Applications (BEA.)

BEA builds on NEC's Cloud Marketplace for third-party applications by adding a platform around it that manages partnerships, provides a virtualization-ready catalog, on-boards and creates new services, and does license management, among other functions.  HOM provides real-time MANO functions as well as service assurance, optimization and security for both virtual and legacy networks and services.

More details will follow soon, but the new platform holds promise for providing a game-changing approach to transformation, which CSPs desperately need. Stratecast anticipates a wider industry response and hopes the focus remains squarely on the challenges of hybrid network management and monetization.


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Timothy McElligott

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