Ericsson pushes network virtualization, cloud platform for telcos

June 16, 2017 - 6:35 PM
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Ericsson's employees stand inside their booth at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

MANILA, PHILIPPINES | Telco operators around globe are now looking to virtualization as a cost effective way to run their networks, and the current buzzword in the telecom industry is NFV or Network Functions Virtualization.

For Sweden-based telecom network provider Ericsson, which has done extensive R&D on the network virtualization technology, an NFV infrastructure that creates simulated environments of hardware and operating systems could lead to “instant reduction of expenses” for the telco, plus “limited hardware use, and superior IT management”.

“Traditionally we sell vendor box, we have the hardware, and the application software bundled together. But what we’re doing for the past couple of years is virtualizing all of these,” Patrick Kelly, head of Cloud Infrastructure, Ericsson South East Asia & Oceania, said in an interview with InterAksyon. “Basically, taking that piece of software and running it over HyperVisor, and that’s the concept behind NFV. Virtualization is not new, and it’s been around for a good twenty years. On the network side we’re leveraging on the benefits of virtualization which ultimately leads to utilization and savings.”

Ericsson describes NFV as “the ability to instantiate network functions in real time at any desired location within the operator’s cloud platform”. Such platform, the telecom provider said, is “critical to optimize resource usage and realize the operational efficiency that NFV promises.”

In 2016, Ericsson signed agreements with Telstra and Swisscom to provide those partners with Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and related services. In addition, Ericsson will also be providing virtualization services to Telefonica, which is specifically focused on infrastructure.

The primary benefit to NFV, according to Ericsson, is an increase on telcos “agility, speed, and efficiency”. It’ll allows telco operators to “stop investing in native networking technology or to keep investing, but to also think beyond native solutions”.

“It is also crucial to enable the speed efficiency and agility to support new business opportunities, which is a prerequisite for 5G”, Ericsson said

NFV is an important technology for the 5G ready core, the telecom provider added.

“We’re looking at the concept of zero distance… we’re building in a kind of area where everything is in total reach, like machines and people communicating directly,” Kelly said, in an infrastructure where Ericsson’s NFV and cloud platform is in place.

“The distance is completely obliterated, some examples from the past we have the silk road, the spice road, the invention of the telegraph, telephone – that’s been all about obliterating distance, making things more efficient,” said Kelly. “The most common thing today is something like blockchain; blockchain is everywhere and nowhere. Totally distributed banking system, which is disrupting the whole financial industry.”

“What the networks need is to be able to cater all of these in a very cost effective way and that’s where see NFV and cloud coming in, and be able to build virtualization and network slicing to address new enterprise segments where different requirements are needed as we start to move to 5G,” Kelly said.