A key area in 2017 for carriers is vendors "normalizing" virtual network functions (VNFs).
In order for SDN and NFV to reach their full potential, VNFs need to be less like snowflakes and more like Legos, according to Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs. Normalizing VNFs includes coming up with basic functions such as configure, test, scale, start, stop, restart and rebuild, Rice said at last year's OpenDaylight Summit. (See AT&T's Rice: Industry Needs to Normalize VNFs.)
Rick Hubbard, senior vice president of Network Product Management at
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), echoed Rice's VNF sentiments in a Telco Transformation Q&A when he said the current crop of VNFs were "purpose built," but he does see the potential for them to become more open via standardized platforms. (See AT&T's Hubbard Discusses SDN Standards & Open Source.)
"I do think that with the equipment folks many of them are seeing virtualization as a way to move sideways," Hubbard said. "So the firewall guys get into routing, the routing guys get into firewalls, without creating two different types of pieces of equipment. So by definition, they are going to have to start becoming a little more open in the way they put these VNFs together.
"And longer term, what we are all going to need to care for is: How does that brand loyalty attach to what were previously equipment providers that are now VNF providers unless there is some sort of platform that takes hold?"
Vendors need to make sure that their VNFs and software work seamlessly across the various use cases, which include "smart" central offices in edge data centers, in universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) at customer sites and in data centers near central offices. (See Study IDs Big Targets for VNFs.)
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In this Telco Transformation radio show, IHS Markit's Michael Howard will talk about the network domains that carriers are targeting for SDN, the top SDN services that are driving revenues and the deployment barriers this year. Howard will also address whether carriers are embracing open source or using vendor-specific implementations.
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