NFV and SDN help address these challenges but the benefits of SDN/NFV can be truly realized only if we are take the following into consideration:
- NFV inherently promises financial and operational benefits hitherto not possible with legacy networks. But this is possible only if the communication service providers can overcome the current day proliferation of OSS and E/NMS systems managing silos of networks and creating further silos of mutually incompatible processed information.
- Taking a pragmatic view point that virtualization of Telco networks will happen in an evolutionary and step wise manner, NFV implementation itself can introduce additional management silos across network fragments.
In summary, the lack of end-to-end management capabilities cause inefficiencies reflected in higher OPEX and CAPEX in legacy components and acts as a roadblock to implementation of NFV/SDN.
An Equal Music
Let’s compare a large Telco network to a symphony orchestra. We hear good music from an orchestra performing in a concert hall when the musicians can see each other and also when the conductor and each musician has a copy of the printed music on standard formatted pages that fit on a standard music stand.
Now imagine that we take the orchestra into a recording studio to play to a distributed group of millions of listeners. But let’s imagine we do this the way that our large Telco/Cellular networks have evolved. Doing so, we place each musician in a separate recoding booth where they can’t see or hear each other. Even though each musician may have the best new and evolving technology, there is no easy way to coordinate the performance of the group. The result is very poor quality of music, an expensive system to operate, and a very difficult time playing a new piece of music.
This is analogous to the situation Telcos face today as a result of layers of technology evolution, mergers & acquisitions, vendor’s business models, changing customer requirements, regulatory actions and the fundamental nature of Telcos. Now instead of poor quality of music, we have poor quality of service. Instead of an expensive orchestra, we have high OPEX and CAPEX. Instead of a difficult time playing a new piece of music, we have a difficult time providing new services leaving the door open to Over The Top (OTT) providers diverting revenue growth away from communication service providers.
Technology & Delivery
The solution from Wipro and Orchestral Networks helps address the problem outlined in the previous section and meets the Telco’s needs for end-to-end network coordination and optimization. It enables:
- Telcos to fully benefit from their sunken investments
- Vendors to continue to innovate and differentiate their products and value price
- Networks to deal effectively with rising scale, complexity and volatility
Conventional technology doesn’t provide a foundation that can meet the scale complexity and volatility of today’s Telco networks. Telcos need an organically flexible, highly scalable and distributed data store and coordination process. The Orchestral Networks patent pending technology does that. Having been developed specifically in response to the needs of Telcos, it provides a data store that can change, not only parameter values, but parameter structures, in real time, without having to shut down for ‘maintenance’. The data store can be completely centralized or fully distributed and can move from one to the other, again without stopping for ‘maintenance’. In a 100 Million subscriber network, there are tens of thousands of network elements each of which can have thousands of parameters. Not all of the parameters are changing all the time, but some are, so the number of transactions per second can be quite high. Thus, the data store has to be able to store large amounts of data and be able to handle high transaction volumes. Finally, because of its key role in coordination of something people really depend on, it must have very significant security protections built in, from the ground up, and not added as an afterthought.
The process for using the data store must be able to provide organic coordination. Just as we can take control of certain functions in our bodies, if we choose to concentrate on them, while others are coordinated autonomously, network operators need to have control if they need it and if not, it must run in an automated fashion. The Orchestral Networks technology provides a one-of-its-kind solution to address this.
The technology has been demonstrated in three high profile public demonstrations under the auspices of TMF (Tele Management Forum) and NGMN (Next Generation Mobile Networks).
But technology, by itself is not enough. All the participants in the Telco ecosystem have two sets of trust issues. The network operators fear that the major vendors will deliver products that are good for the vendors, but do not fully meet the needs of the operators. Based on this, the operators have pushed for detailed standards. The vendors fear that detailed standards will limit their ability to innovate, differentiate their products and value price. If one of the established vendors does try to develop a product to solve the problem, the other vendors fear that the product will advantage the vendor that releases the product and disadvantage all the others.
This set of trust issues requires a solution delivered by a small, independent company whose only business is delivering this solution. Such a company will be trusted by the operators, because the operators know that to be successful, it must be focused on fully meeting their needs. In a similar fashion the other vendors will trust such a company because the vendors know that to be successful, it must treat all the other vendors fairly. Orchestral Networks is configured to exactly fit this set of trust issues and the industry has recognized it as such. Solving this set of trust issues is necessary, but not sufficient. While the above addresses the first set of trust issues, there are another set that revolve around the ability of a small company, even with excellent technology, to develop a quality product, deliver it in a fashion that works well for the operators, and provide long-term support. This is where Wipro comes in. Wipro with its reputation for quality engineering and its well-regarded worldwide delivery capability provides the whole ecosystem with confidence in delivery and support.
Thus, the partnership between Wipro and Orchestral Networks creates just exactly the solution that the industry needs at this time; i.e. the innovative technology required to solve the problem, and meet the trust needs of the whole ecosystem.
Now that we understand the full problem and have a general concept of the solution, we can dig a little deeper into the technology of the solution. The Wipro/ Orchestral Networks Solution is shown in Illustration #2. The Orchestral Network Platform (ON1) consists of a series of Local Virtualizers/Orchestrators one for each EMS or OSS and a single Conductor for the whole system.