Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blueprint: How NFV is Shifting Service Provider Culture

by Jack Barrett, Senior Director of Strategic Account Marketing, Juniper Networks

Gone are the days where mobile providers and telecommunications companies can rightfully be called “phone companies.”

As early as the end of last year, U.S. service providers for the first time saw data revenue outpace voice fees. Nokia Networks has posited that mobile subscribers will consume a full gigabyte of data daily, up from approximately 500 megabytes today.

This points to a larger trend at play – the business model and infrastructure at the center of the modern service provider’s data deluge are shifting dramatically.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) promise to render networks more agile and suitable for evolving subscriber needs. But this shift to virtualized, software-driven networks isn’t just about upgrading technology. It will also require a stark transformation in the business processes, worker skills and culture within telco organizations.

First, some context

Over the last few months, we’ve met with several of our major service-provider customers who have asked us to discuss our point of view on their journey to NFV and SDN.  As a result, we found four main organizational elements that SDN and NFV are forcing service providers to address:
  1. Business processes
  2. New software skills
  3. Roles and responsibilities
  4. Company Culture
The two acronyms SDN and NFV signal a breaking of the silos under which telco servics are traditionally employed. Additionally, the simplification, automation and analytics that accompany NFV and SDN achieve operational benefits by reducing the costs associated with manual and complex processes.

This means groups within telcos – be it the networking guys or the IT folks – that previously never had to collaborate are coming together in new ways as the organizational walls fall.

The Automation in SDN/NFV Requires Faster Business Processes

Simplification and automation is imperative to rapidly delivering the services that consumers and businesses alike need. That could include on-demand firewalls for a startup or tune-streaming services to music lovers that don’t count against data plans.

With NFV, teams can now quickly build and scale these types of new services using virtual functions.

With the introduction of NFV and SDN technologies, software automates complex operational process, and delivers networks functions previously delivered by dedicated or proprietary hardware.  This requires a new process model for controlling software-based objects, not boxes, and as such, service providers must learn to work with logical devices as well as physical devices.   These techniques, which were pioneered in the data center, are no longer restricted to the Web services model and the data center, but now extend to the service provider and global network.

It is important for service providers to understand how SDN and NFV will impact their business. Mapping out where SDN and NFV will most greatly affect their business is the first step to embracing the changes that they will bring. A deep dive into the technology will allow service providers to establish the processes needed, and enable them to support automation and software control.

The New Network Requires New Software Skills

Perhaps one of the most dramatic shifts service providers will face in the transition to NFV or SDN is the need for new software development skills. Network engineering is still a core competency of service providers, who must manage and maintain facilities and service level agreements (SLA) to carry the traffic. However, with services being delivered on programmable platforms, organizations require software skills and DevOps-ready staff.

DevOps brings an agile services delivery model to network services. Spanning code generation, planning, version control, automated testing and code checking, automated release and other functions, DevOps enables service providers to go from delivering services in months and years to delivering services in days and minutes. We see new roles emerging within the service provider:
  • IT generalists with responsibilities throughout the virtualization stack
  • SDN engineering for flow architecture design and management
  • Cloud orchestration, which involves third parties delivering brokerage and clearing-house capabilities
  • Partner and channel development to provide content delivery, XaaS and other cloud services as customer solutions

The New Network Changes Roles and Responsibilities

The result of virtualizing the underlying network and separating it from service delivery is the creation of a development platform for service delivery. Because the network now accommodates the use of software-development methodologies, service providers need to embrace concepts like agility and DevOps as the way to speedy service delivery.

This, therefore, extends the influence of traditional IT and CIO functions to the other more operational realms of the network.

This is not about collapsing the CIO and CTO into a single role. The actual organizational structure is less important in this environment, because regardless of how you slice it the same jobs have be done. The important point is enabling the process for collaboration and establishing accountability. The key organizational transitions we see are:
  • The CTO becomes more future-focused. The CTO must focus on developments like standards and new technologies that will impact how to best build new services, applications and functions for the customers.
  • The CIO becomes more operations-focused. Within most service providers now, the CTO has the lion’s share of operations responsibility, while the CIO is more focused on the enterprise as a whole. The CIO must take on more operations responsibilities. Already widely embraced within the Web services community, this will result from the use of DevOps as the mainstay of the service creation environment.
  • The CMO becomes more technical and feature-focused. The CMO will increasingly  work more closely with the CIO to enable the technical changes required to meet customer demand
  • Sales teams become more solution-focused (and less network-focused). The enterprise sales organization will need to sell customer-specific SDN and NFV-enabled packages across wire-line and wireless access networks, with a focus on end-to-end management and accountability of the service and application. These services will be built to individual preferences regardless of technology.

The New Network Transforms Company Culture

Through all of this, service providers will need to shift to a software-centric business culture that mimics Web-services, content and media companies.

The change in pace that SDN and NFV, not to mention customer requirements, will cultivate means that service providers will need to get comfortable with launching services in beta, testing “on the fly,” and acknowledge “fast-fail” as success, perhaps more often than not.

Externally, the transitions brought about by NFV and SDN will require cultural changes in terms of service delivery and customer interactions. This biggest shift from a customer-facing perspective will be for service providers to switch from primarily being a connectivity providers to solutions-oriented providers focused on a holistic customer experience.

Bridging the NFV/SDN Chasm From Hype to Reality

The idea that a telecommunications company will move from a hardware-centric company to an agile, software-driven organization is imminent. We are bridging the chasm from NFV/SDN “hype” to reality, while recognizing the unique requirements that telecommunications companies have.

So, while lessons from the IT world related to embracing agile and extending these concepts to operations provide a good vision, we understand it will be important to do so in the context of the telecommunications environment.

With that said, it is more important now than ever before for traditional service providers to embrace change. This cannot be overstated. Quick response to these technologies will allow service providers to embrace the telco transformation and provide the improved services that their customers demand.

About the Author 

Jack Barrett is Senior Director of Strategic Account Marketing, Juniper Networks. He has more than 25 years of experience in Telecommunications and Networking.

About Juniper Networks 

Juniper Networks delivers innovation across routing, switching and security. From the network core down to consumer devices, Juniper Networks' innovations in software, silicon and systems transform the experience and economics of networking. Additional information can be found at Juniper Networks.



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AT&T Adds Brocade, Ciena and Cisco to its Domain 2.0 List

AT&T confirmed the latest vendors to join its Domain 2.0 supplier list: Brocade, Ciena and Cisco.

Previously, AT&T has announced Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs, Juniper Networks, Fujitsu Network Communications, Ericsson, Affirmed Networks, Tail-F Systems (acquired by Cisco, and Metaswitch Networks.  This brings the program to ten vendors.

“With Domain 2.0, we are seeking out agile and disruptive suppliers to help us innovate more quickly as we drive forward towards our next-generation network vision,” said Susan Johnson, senior vice president, AT&T Global Supply Chain.

http://about.att.com/story/att_adds_companies_to_its_20_domain_supplier_program.html

AT&T Rolls out VoLTE in First Markets

AT&T has launched VoLTE and HD Voice in select areas in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. The carrier's first VoLTE rollouts occurred in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin earlier this year.

AT&T also noted that its VoLTE is network performing very well.

VoLTE includes the ability to simultaneously talk and surf the web at LTE speeds. VoLTE also allows for higher audio quality for calls through HD Voice.

http://about.att.com/newsroom/voice_over_lte_network_performance_strong_expansion_planned_for_2015.html



  • In November, Verizon and AT&T confirmed that they are working to establish VoLTE interoperability between their networks. The companies are working through a full set of requirements, beginning with extensive testing in lab environments and then moving to field trials.  This approach ensures customers will have a seamless experience making VoLTE HD Voice calls between networks and lays the foundation for interoperability of other Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calls, rich messaging, and more in the future.

VoLTE interoperability between Verizon and AT&T customers is expected in 2015.   

Avi Networks Unveils its Cloud Application Delivery Controller

Avi Networks, a start-up founded by key engineers behind Cisco's Nexus data center platforms, unveiled its hyperscale application delivery controller (ADC) for helping enterprise customers deliver for on-premise and cloud-based applications.

Instead of using fleets of hardware-based ADC appliances, Avi's Cloud Application Delivery Platform (CADP) and Hyperscale Distributed Resources Architecture (HYDRA) adopts the same approach taken by large cloud service providers, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, in that it runs entirely in software on x86.  Compared to virtualized ADCs or load balancers, Avi's architecture separates the control plane from the data plane, bringing the cloud-scale to the application delivery platform. Avi is also bringing traffic analytics into its Layer 7 switching, enabling application flows to dynamically adapt to traffic conditions.

"In today’s mobile cloud era, the traditional appliance-centric, monolithic application delivery approach doesn’t work anymore,” said Umesh Mahajan, Founder and CEO of Avi Networks. “Inspired by the proven architectural approach pioneered by hyperscale cloud service providers, we developed the Avi Networks Cloud Application Delivery Platform to allow enterprise customers to accelerate their cloud journey, while maximizing their end-user application experience.”

Avi cited the following five virtues of its architecture:

  • Agility via programmability, self-service and an on-demand elastic scale.
  • Analytics and insights about every real-time and historic user-to-application transaction.
  • Adaptive to changes in user-demand or application scale, automatically.
  • Mobile-access optimization – from a performance, scale and security perspective.
  • Multi-cloud support for on-premise, private and public cloud deployments.
In addition, the company announced a $33 million funding round led by Greylock Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Menlo Ventures.

https://avinetworks.com/


  • Prior to co-founding Avi Networks in November 2012, Umesh Mahajan was VP/GM of Data Center Switching at Cisco, responsible for the Nexus 7000, MDS, NX-OS and DCNM families. Before that, he was Senior Director of Software Engineering at Andiamo, which was acquired by Cisco.  Avi's team also includes Murali Basavaiah (co-founder and Engineering Lead), who previously was VP Engineering at Cisco for NX-OS Software and Nexus 7000/MDS product; and Ranga Rajagopalan (Cheif Architect and CTO), who previously was Sr. Director of Engineering at Cisco and responsible for NX-OS systems/platform software for the Cisco Nexus 7000.

Accenture and Microsoft Launch Hybrid Cloud

Accenture and Microsoft officially introduced the Accenture Hybrid Cloud Solution for Microsoft Azure, aiming to bring new capabilities, economics and innovation to the enterprise infrastructure and applications.

“Our expanded relationship with Microsoft represents a game-changing proposition that addresses the biggest concerns and our clients face as they look to leverage the cloud,” said Pierre Nanterme, chairman and CEO, Accenture. “With new demands being placed on IT departments every day, enterprises need to smartly connect their infrastructure, software applications, data and operations capabilities in order to become agile, intelligent, digital businesses.”

“Enterprises around the globe are looking for the right platforms and partners to help them transform and thrive in a mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “The Microsoft cloud, combined with Accenture’s industry knowledge and implementation expertise, accelerates our customers’ cloud adoption and unlocks new benefits, including powerful new applications, data-driven insights and increased productivity.”

Key attributes:

  • The Microsoft cloud platform of Microsoft Azure providing enterprise performance, hyper-scale and hybrid capabilities connected to Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and Azure Pack running in customer data centers.
  • The Accenture Cloud Platform which supports multi-platform environments with self-service provisioning for any application. Its central dashboard controls cloud brokerage and management capabilities, and provides the enterprise-grade governance, reliability, security and operations enterprise clients expect.
  • An end-to-end spectrum of professional services to help clients define and execute against their cloud goals, based on Accenture’s specialized industry knowledge and proven business transformation experience — from strategy and transformation to migration, deployment and managed services.
  • Avanade’s deep bench of skilled professionals equipped with broad expertise in Microsoft technologies and a laser focus on unlocking business value in the enterprise.

http://www.accenture.com/us-en/Pages/service-hybrid-cloud-solution-microsoft.aspx

Cisco to Acquire Neohapsis for Security AdvisoryService

Cisco agreed to acquire Neohapsis, a privately-held provider of mobile and cloud security advisory services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Neohapsis provides risk management, compliance, cloud, application, mobile, and infrastructure security solutions to Fortune 500 customers. The company is based in Chicago.

The Neohapsis team will join the Cisco Security Services organization under the leadership of Senior Vice President and General Manager Bryan Palma. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015.

https://blogs.cisco.com/news/cisco-announces-intent-to-acquire-neohapsis
http://neohapsis.com/

Juniper: Mobile Users in Developing Countries More Satisfied

Mobile users in developing nations tend to more satisfied with their service despite lower bandwidth than people in developed countries, according to a new Global Bandwidth Index Report from Juniper Networks. The report explores differences between how people use mobile Internet connectivity in their day-to-day lives at work and at home and what they hope to achieve using their connected devices in the future.

Some highlights:


  • Nearly twice as many people in developing countries regularly use connected devices for educational purposes as those in developed markets. 
  • 46 percent of respondents in developing countries use connected devices for professional development versus 27 percent in developed markets.
  • 97 percent of people in emerging markets reported fundamental life changes due to connectivity, including a transformation in the way they complete a wide range of essential and everyday tasks, from banking to accessing local information, enjoying entertainment, receiving health care and engaging in civic life.
  • 22 percent of consumers in developed markets who report that connectivity has not had a significant effect on their lives.
  • 40 percent of respondents in emerging markets report that connectivity has improved their earning power, compared with just 17 percent in developed markets.
  • 60 percent of consumers in emerging markets believe that connectivity has transformed their social lives, compared with 38 percent in the developed countries.
  • 60 percent of consumers in emerging markets cited connection speed as the most common problem (compared with 27 percent in developed countries).
  • 30 percent of people in emerging markets stated that simply finding a connection remains an issue (compared to just 13 percent in developed nations).


“Despite these connectivity challenges, the Global Bandwidth Index data shows that consumers in emerging markets are still significantly more satisfied with their networks than their counterparts in developed countries. The transformative impact of connectivity on peoples’ lives in the developing world is much stronger than the feeling that networks should be faster and more reliable. Meanwhile, in developed countries, high bandwidth connectivity is so commonplace that people are much more sensitive to interruptions in service,” Mike Marcellin, senior vice president, strategy and marketing, Juniper Networks.

http://www.juniper.net

See also