As the telecom industry engages itself towards realizing the full potential of Network Function Virtualization, RAD, a global telecom access solutions and products vendor is demystifying the NFV space by offering unique solution for ‘Distributed NFV’ at the customer edge.
Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com speaks with Jayant Deo, President of RAD India, about the company’s focus around NFV and how RAD can help carriers, operators and ISPs embrace NFV in a cost efficient manner.
Q) How real is the NFV trend and trials? Where do you think are the biggest opportunities lie?
Industry analysts disagree about the precise numbers, but while the NFV market may be embryonic today, all foresee a promising future. Mind Commerce estimates the NFV market will grow at a CAGR of 46% through 2019 to reach revenues of $1.3 billion, up from $203 million this year. TechNavio says CAGR will grow even faster, by 51.57% through 2018. Analysis Mason predicts revenue of $2.4 billion in 2018.
Most service providers see NFV as a promising vehicle to reduce costs, quickly launch new services and basically stay relevant as they face stringent customer needs and growing competition. Among the most potentially lucrative opportunities for NFV are virtual CPE (vCPE), security as a service (SaaS), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), Cloud RANs, Evolved Packet Core (EPC) in the mobile network, WAN traffic balancing/shaping, virtual IMS and RCS, virtual broadband remote access server (vBRAS), and network monitoring.
Q) How do you look at the ongoing interest of operators towards virtualizing their network infrastructure? How can RAD help here?
The typical perception of NFV is that it has to be located at the data center. But that’s not necessarily the only case. In fact, NFV can be implemented anywhere in the network, wherever they are most effective and least expensive. RAD offers a unique solution for Distributed NFVat the customer edge.
RAD’s D-NFV solution is a multiple winner of industry innovation awards. RAD was the first in the market to integrate L2/L3 NID with a powerful x86 platform for hosting virtual network functions. It is controlled by the service provider and resides at the customer premises to deliver service agility, as well as other substantial benefits.
For example, it allows for incremental investment via phased NFV deployment, an effective first step towards full NFV deployment because it foregoes expensive centralized investments, which typically outpace initial revenue. In addition, it ensures the effectiveness of key functions that must remain at the customer edge, such as WAN optimization, encryption, traffic conditioning, end-to-end Qos, QoE monitoring, and more. Such center-less deployment also allows better conformance to enterprise customers’ security and access policies.
Q) Is there any offering that RAD has towards driving NFV for operators in India?
We see significant interest from major service providers in India for our D-NFV at the edge solution, and we are already arranging demos and lab testing for leading carriers. We expect that some of these inquiries will lead to actual filed trials next year as the benefits of RAD’s D-NFV-enabled networking devices for launching NFV-based business services are clear – agility, service assurance and lower operational cost.
Q) What are some of the NFV best practices that operators can look forward while virtualizing their infrastructure? Can you share someof the NFV case studies with us?
The phased NFV deployment offered by RAD’s D-NFV solution is a fine example of how service providers can minimize their risks and enable easier control of the process. The first stage involves center-less solutions, as RAD’s D-NFV solution, to obviate the need to invest in network and data center upgrades before the service is launched while benefiting from fast service introduction. Virtualization may then be extended to other network locations at the full-scale deployment stage,whereby VNFs are located at the edge, network nodes and data center as justified, and network operators can benefit from a shared IT resource pool.
Q) What could be the biggest benefits of NFV today? And how can your organization further help operators in terms of gaining more fromtheir network?
First is service agility. D-NFV enables fast service introduction, “try-n-buy” options, and simple adoption of new pre-tested applications offered by the D-NFV Alliance VNF ecosystem.
Second is its low cost. D-NFV does not require any upfront investments in data centers or the network. It integrates an advanced CPE with a powerful server for hosting virtual applications in a single-box solution, requiring less power consumption, space and dedicated technical support.
Additional savings are offered by the unified, standards-based management for all virtual and physical resources, which features open APIs for seamless integration.
Finally, D-NFV is future-ready, allowing network operators to first purchase the modular NID, then add the D-NFV module and software-based functionalities as needed.
RAD further assists operators by having established the D-NFV Alliance, a growing ecosystem for vendors and service providers, which see D-NFV as the ideal vehicle for enabling applications to run at the edge of the network.
RAD tests and certifies Alliance partners’ applications to make them available to service providers and system integrators around the globe via RAD’s D-NFV-enabled networking devices to enhance their service offering. These applications also address mission-critical communications needs, with dedicated applications delivering cyber security and high network availability.
Q) What could become of the biggest challenges that can dampen the NFV engagement with operators today?
1.Cost. The deployment of NFV at the data center requires a significant investment and network upgrades before any service is even launched. RAD’s D-NFV solution, in contrast, allows profitability from Day 1. With D-NFV, service providers can start implementing virtualization at the customer edge and afterwards, with the service and operation experience gained in that first phase, proceed to full-scale NFV by adding VNFs at data centers and/or the network edge, if and when that is justified.
Such invest-as-you-grow flexibility enables a phased bottom-up approach based on “service incubation” at a limited number of customer sites with incremental (and minimal upfront) investment. This does not require network route modification and should not affect service SLA guarantees. It may also be more economically viable, as it enables results-driven investment.
Moreover, new functionality can be downloaded to customer edge devices without the need to install new equipment or undertake expensive truck-rolls. This translates into far fewer on-site installations, lower maintenance and energy expenditures and better MTBF.
2. Simple-to-use yet powerful management with holistic control over embedded and virtual elements for end-to-end service management (planning, provisioning and performance monitoring) and open interfaces. The RADview Carrier-Class Network Management System with a D-NFV manager addresses this need.
3. Operators need to internally adapt and enhance cooperation between their IT and networking teams.RAD’s modular D-NFV devices ease this process, since they can be initially used as a NID and later be upgraded by adding the x86 virtualization server.