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It’s that time of the year again when pundits will soon start posting their predictions about what to expect from the world’s largest telecommunications show, MWC 2019. Yet, as the IT world continues to converge, we will certainly see much more than just pure telco, which we’ll discuss shortly. In the meantime, here’s AvidThink’s list of things we do not expect to see at MWC:
• Less than 100,000 attendees.
• Booths without the magic words “5G,” “IoT,” or “AI” (artificial intelligence) in big shiny letters.
• Vendors and carriers avoiding the term SD-WAN because it’s overhyped.
• Large scale, multi-vendor, container-based NFV platforms deployed successfully in production.
• Ericsson and Huawei giving up their town-sized exhibits and downscaling to 20-foot booths.
• Apple launching a new phone. (But Samsung will likely have its Galaxy S10 there and Sony will be kicking off its mobile phone comeback tour.)
• The unveiling of vehicles with legs. (CES 2019 already holds this dubious honor.)
Now, that list was a little tongue-in-cheek; however, if you’re one of the lucky ones – like me – headed to Barcelona, you might not be looking forward to being jostled by more than 100,000 of your closest associates as you make your way through the metro while also avoiding the pickpockets. And if you do manage to get to the Fira Barcelona Gran Via without losing your favorite phone and your passport then be prepared to be bombarded with real 5G and fake 5G messages – 5G E anyone?
Thought you’d seen enough of 5G and IoT at MWC 2018? Think again. And this year, 5G and IoT will be joined by their good friends AI, edge, and SD-WAN.
On a more serious note, here’s what we are looking forward to seeing and learning from our time at MWC.
Our recent analysis articles have been a little down on NFV. At the same time we appreciate that virtualization of the service provider needs to happen and is in progress. So AvidThink is looking forward to seeing which carriers have made significant progress in multi-vendor NFV and innovative joint vendor-SP approaches to the VNF on-boarding problem.
We’re still skeptical that production-grade container-based cloud native NFV and cloud native network functions (CNFs) exist in the wild outside of Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF)/Linux Foundation labs. However, we’re looking forward to being proven wrong on this front. While CNFs holds a lot of promise, there’s a lot of effort to revamp many VNFs as true microservices architecture-based applications – it’ll take some time. The task is especially difficult for VNFs that require strong I/O performance. And the last thing we need is another round of fakes. Remember the fake VNFs that were basically nothing more than direct ports of physical NFs into virtual machines (VMs)? Many weren’t even performance optimized for VMs.
To give the CNF movement credibility we would want to see a collection of microservices running within a Kubernetes-managed cluster that collaborate to replace an existing VNF or physical NF. And this microservice CNF should have the auto-scaling, portability, agility, and resiliency that cloud-native infrastructures provide. As an added bonus, this should be deployed as part of a CI/CD pipeline.
It’s going to be next to impossible to avoid SD-WAN at any networking show in 2019. AvidThink will be watching to see what major carriers tout on the SD-WAN front, and we’ll be keeping our eyes on interesting innovations from vendors beyond the typical SD-WAN feature set.
We’ll be looking into the early deployments of 5G and how much of the 5G back end at various service providers is based on modern cloud infrastructure. Gartner recently completed a survey on 5G that indicated 66 percent of enterprises want to adopt 5G by 2020.
However, Gartner also predicts that by 2022, 50 percent of the service providers with commercial 5G deployments will fail to monetize their back-end technology infrastructure investments. The culprit will be systems not fully meeting 5G use case requirements. AvidThink agrees that without an agile back-end infrastructure and appropriate cloud foundations, service providers delving into 5G will shoot themselves in the foot. That’s why successful NFV or other virtualization and cloud initiatives are critical, but it appears service providers are still struggling and will continue to do so.
Hopefully, we’ll see some positive signs at MWC that service providers are stepping up and are better equipped to innovate the back end of their infrastructure and not just good at putting up towers and upgrading radios.
Edge and IoT
AvidThink has always held that the edge is the new battleground for service providers and cloud giants, as well as anyone owning data center infrastructure – like the inter-exchange carriers or hosting providers. We’re looking forward to seeing the next chapter as new edge platforms roll out.
Our expectation is that edge deployments will mature and we’ll start understanding what the different architectures are that can serve various IoT use cases: smart cities, smart agriculture, autonomous driving, AR/VR, and telemedicine. Where does data get processed? What gets aggregated and sent upstream? What gets discarded? How will control planes be split between local, edge, and cloud? These are all pressing questions and inquiring minds like ours want to know the answers.
I almost put ONAP on the list, but I think that topic is better served by the upcoming Open Networking Summit (ONS) 2019 in April. So, did I miss anything that you’re not expecting to see at MWC 2019? If so, drop me a note, and if you’re headed to MWC and want to meet up, reach out.