Meeting Recap: NFV MANO

Author: Derek Kerton, Managing Partner at Kerton Group and Chairman of Telecom Council

DSC_0212MANO is the challenge of managing and orchestrating the various virtualized network functions (VNFs) that will someday populate the carrier’s telecom network. The problem is that, a single virtual machine (VM) replacing a dedicated machine is easy to understand and manage, but as more and more physical machines are replaced with VNFs, and these are scattered in datacenters near and far from the service location, the complexity rapidly increases, and elaborate automated systems are required to oversee the ongoing process.

Our meeting kicked off with an insightful presentation from Michael Howard, Senior Researcher and Advisor of Carrier Networks at IHS. Michael gave us a clear understanding of the lay of the land, the Open technologies at play, as well as the standards bodies that are relevant. Michael’s slides were so useful that they were referenced throughout the entire meeting by the subsequent speakers. Prakash Ramchandran, of Futrewei Technologies at Huawei, followed on with some specific approaches that vendors and telcos are using to achieve the vision of NFV.

Our panel featured Les Stuart of HPE, Wayne Cheung of Juniper, and Christos Kolias of Orange who addressed whether NFV was on track to achieve its goals of improving service agility, while still also eliminating vendor lock-in typical of telco network hardware and software. The panel discussed how telcos have shifted towards embracing Open technologies as well as standardized ones. And that the key wasn’t to just adhere to a standard, but rather to provide interoperability. Open technologies can serve that role as well as standards, and both have merit. Open having faster time-to-market, and standards having tigher lock-down. Mark Cummings of Orchestral Networks mentioned that taming the chaos is a fool’s errand, but rather managing the chaos should be the goal, because the chaos will always exist.

Other take aways:

– Network Operators may want one “top Orchestrator” that is able to manage NFV, but also manage other sub-orchestrators.

– The disruption offered by virtualization opens up many opportunities for startups, and many of the big companies at the meeting had already bought smaller startups, offering exits to shareholders.

Thanks to HPE for hosting the meeting, and for any member who would like to see the slides, they are available in the Member Library.

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