NICE -- TM Forum Live! -- Orange Business Services appears to have identified a number of skills gaps in its organization as it embarks on a more widespread rollout of SDN- and NFV-based services.
The operator, a division of French telecom incumbent Orange (NYSE: FTE), has already carried out service trials in France's small and midsized enterprise market and is set to expand the scope and availability of its offering later this year. (See Orange Plots Wider Rollout of NFV for SMEs.)
As it works toward that goal, however, Orange Business Services (OBS) is quickly discovering that an NFV rollout is not just about network transformation.
"It's a human revolution as well," said Laurent Herr, the vice president of OSS for OBS, during a presentation at today's TM Forum Live! event in Nice, France. "We need new hard skills on the network and IT side -- the hardware guys need to understand what is happening on the OSS side and the IT people need to understand the network."
In March, during the MPLS/SDN/NFV World Congress in Paris, OBS had drawn attention to some of the technical challenges it is facing as a result of its SDN and NFV program, but skirted over the issue of people skills.
Yet those look set to become increasingly important as the virtualization footprint grows. As part of what Herr calls "Phase 2" of the SDN and NFV rollout, Orange will deploy virtual network functions at a number of PoPs globally, having run them from a single PoP during the service trials.
The objective is to bring services closer to the customer, but the expansion is forcing OBS to adapt culturally as well as technologically.
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Besides ensuring its employees have the requisite "hard skills," OBS is also trying to inculcate DevOps practices throughout the organization.
The DevOps term is typically used to describe a culture in which developers are able to collaborate effectively on the rapid design and release of new software.
"This is something that is usual for IT guys, but network stakeholders and engineers and so on must be able to work in an agile manner, and that is completely new -- they are not used to it," said Herr.
The launch of NFV- and SDN-based services also has major implications for the sales and marketing functions within OBS. With self-service functionality that gives customers more control over the products they use, sales staff will have to interact with subscribers in entirely new ways, according to Herr.
Herr's comments about the "human revolution" were echoed later in the day by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s Gagan Puranik, who told attendees that a "people transformation" was much harder than technology overhaul. (See Verizon Demands Better NFV 'Answers' From Vendors.)
Puranik urged the TM Forum to support operators in this area and not simply to provide guidance on the network and IT front.
Orange's Herr also thinks the TM Forum could play a bigger role when it comes to standardization activities. "We do need more standardization to ensure systems can interact with each other, especially on catalog management," he said. "The TM Forum could be a good place to make things evolve."
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading, Editor-in-Chief Telco Transformation