NFV(Network Function Virtualization) has rapidly become a hot topic within the mobile industry, as proven at Mobile World Congress 2016 during the conference session, NFV Implementation: Beyond Cost Savings. I spoke in this session, joining industry heavyweights including AT&T’s John Donavan, Francois Locoh-Donou from Ciena, and Bhaskar Gorti of Nokia.
Discussions regarding NFV generally focus on operators’ transformation and re-architecting of their networks to deliver new services faster while improving agility and flexibility. These values also define Synchronoss’ network orchestration platforms. After all, our business has grown from smartphone activation to orchestrating a wide variety of devices and services at scale for some of the world’s largest operators. Synchronoss therefore has an interesting perspective on NFV migration – as do I, having been operator-side at BT, vendor-side at Lucent, and now at an SI level with Synchronoss.
Session moderator Gabriel Brown, senior industry analyst at Heavy Reading, wanted to get the holistic view of NFV deployment. The discussion emphasised operators’ need to maintain viable businesses while navigating NFV migration and the complexities of OSS:BSS integration. Managing this complexity is paramount. Operators must remain commercially relevant and able to provision services to avoid ceding further ground to more agile OTT players.
Our network orchestration platform can prove an effective stepping stone to full SDN deployment. Sitting above legacy OSS:BSS at a network inventory level, it provides full integration capabilities. After all, operators can only match the rate of change in end-user services and change in the network if the complexity of network integration and service provisioning is moved up a level to the network orchestration layer.
The high cost of network change stems directly from operators trying to manage complexity at the network building blocks – the most inflexible network elements. The speed of change and resulting time-to-market improvements when operating at this level are typically measured in quarters and years. Using orchestration platforms can cut this to days and hours. Furthermore, with a platform in place operators can freeze the scope at which it operates, giving them freedom to address longer-term architectural change.
Non-traditional competitive players such as Google and Facebook bring agility and flexibility as standard – they can introduce new services without fear of failure or tangling themselves in their own legacy OSS:BSS spaghetti.
Hence the question of whether operators would restrict investment in existing OSS:BSS while developing an NFV strategy. Major investment in any network technology must yield strong ROI possibilities. Operators won’t throw money at existing OSS/BSS stacks with limited shelf life. The most likely outcome? Operators resist major investment in legacy OSS/BSS and divert saved CAPEX to data cleansing and simplification, ensuring they are better placed for subsequent migration and remain competitive throughout transition.
Operators can’t afford to cede more ground to OTTs in terms of new service delivery, customer comfort, and mindshare. They need a compelling FMCG experience now, not in the three to five years it takes to realise fully commercial SDNs.