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Jan 04 2017

Virtual attraction – what’s the killer app in G.fast virtualization?

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Twitter: @nokianetworks These are exciting times when you can set free a new solution or concept in the world. Not too long ago, Nokia launched its vision at the Broadband World Forum (BBWF) 2016 on the introduction of SDN/NFV principles in its G.fast portfolio. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive – not least for how we have tried to simplify the complex jargon around virtualization!

For me, that’s part of the excitement around big events like BBWF. Collaborating, engaging and meeting with customers, influencers and stakeholders is an excellent opportunity to get instant reactions and feedback about real-world SDN/NFV use cases.

The topic of virtualization of access networks is one that holds the potential to be overhyped and Nokia takes a very pragmatic approach, prefering to cut through the hype. So here are some insights as to what resonated most with network operators, both at BBWF and in our discussions since then:

  • Resource optimization. Manpower is a critical but costly part of any G.fast deployment. therefore, automated turn-up, zero-touch provisioning and pre-provisioning of nodes will have a hugely positive impact on deployment resources. Field technicians can then focus on the physical aspects of installation, optimizing the time and expertise needed in a deployment.
  • Network in the cloud. Persistent Management Agent (PMA) functionality has really captured the imagination. The fact that nodes can now be configured centrally all at once regardless of their online/offline state has been cited as essential to providing a consistently high-level of availability and functionality.
  • Phased adoption. It seems that many operators feel daunted by the idea of a wide-scale application of SDN/NFV. They would much prefer to take a measured and deliberate path towards virtualization without disrupting current operations. So Nokia’s phased, hybrid approach to SDN/NFV resonates well with them. Begin with virtual management functions and more SDN control alongside the existing OSS. Then, as you evolve the network – for example, to handle more subscribers or provide more capacity – take the opportunity to apply further SDN/NFV functionality.
  • Keeping options open. In the early days of a new technology, it can be all too easy to unwittingly get caught up in a single vendor’s way of doing things. Nokia’s championing of the open and non-proprietary NETCONF/YANG protocol seems to be a very reassuring move for several service providers. It removes much of the risk of being an early adopter as service providers know there is an industry-wide standard on the way and they don’t, therefore, have to worry about vendor lock-in.

Of course, every service provider has different priorities and every G.fast deployment is unique. Other features of SDN/NFV can be highly relevant in different circumstances. But certainly the areas I’ve mentioned here have come up regularly in the conversations I’ve been having with them.

So what appeals to you most about SDN/NFV? How do you see it applying to your fixed access network? Let me know in the comments section below.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #SDN #NFV #virtualization

About Filip de Greve

As product marketing manager at Nokia, Filip focuses on new market strategies for innovative copper and fiber based access solutions. He holds a Ph.D. in telecomm and has over 10 years experience in the ICT & telecom industry with broad expertise in hardware, software and services. He loves road cycling and thrives on thinking outside the box to explore new ideas and concepts.

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