It’s that time of year again — time to grab the binoculars, stand out in the crisp winter air, and enjoy the flight of the Ericsson press releases on their way to Barcelona.
That’s the site of Mobile World Congress, as you know, whether you want to or not. It’s arguably the largest event in the service-provider networking sphere, and for big vendors such as Ericsson, the 101,000-employee mobile-network powerhouse, it’s like a late Super Bowl.
This year’s flurry of announcements comes with a binding theme, though. Ericsson has undergone a change of business model to look more like a software company.
We’ve written about Cisco making that transformation, launching it at Cisco Live in Milan last month. But Ericsson made the adjustment last fall, also announcing that it would be releasing software in colossal, semi-annual chunks. Release 15A was announced in October along with the new licensing model. Mobile World Congress will be the launch event for 15B.
Today, Ericsson is announcing a lot of products and services it will be showing off at MWC 2015. Some of the details will have to wait for the show, but here’s what we found interesting so far.
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OPNFV at MWC 2015
Specifically, Ericsson plans to offer an OPNFV-compatible data center as a product.
It makes sense when you consider that Ericsson, in addition to being an equipment vendor, is a major systems integrator — a company whose services include the building and/or operating of a carrier’s network. And the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV) is a carrier-driven effort to create a reference architecture for NFV, one that’s built from open source pieces.
The idea is to create a certified OpenStack distribution that’s NFV-compliant, “to really get something standardized in this space so we don’t end up with incompatibilities,” says Håkan Djuphammar, Ericsson’s head of technology for cloud and IT.
Djuphammar expects to see OPNFV start getting deployed in the second half of this year.
NFV itself is already in deployment, but mostly in small doses; carriers are still in learning mode with the technology, Djuphammar says. Those efforts are aided by the fact that a carrier can use load balancing to steer just a fraction of traffic to an NFV deployment, allowing traditional networking gear to handle most of the load.
Full-scale, damn-the-torpedos NFV isn’t likely to emerge until at least 2016, Djuphammar says.
Ericsson Joins the Virtual Router Parade
Now it’s Ericsson’s turn. The company is announcing the Ericsson Virtual Router, a software version of the SSR8000 it’s been selling.
Ericsson is pitching the virtual router as a more economical option for small deployments — routers used for nothing but signaling inside of a modestly sized data center, for instance, says Sebastian Tolstoy, head of marketing for Ericsson’s radio access business.
Ericsson is also launching a new router series, the 6000 family. It includes access, aggregation, and metro aggregation routers.
The bulk of Ericsson’s announcements today look at the big picture of the mobile network. Here are a few of them:
- One of Ericsson’s larger themes will be “digital telco transformation,” a combination of consulting, systems integration, and the company’s OSS/BSS portfolio. Telecom Italia is included in today’s announcement as an example customer.
- Expert Analytics 15.0, which includes the promise of a service-level index (SLI) tracking user experience.
- Applications Experience Optimization, a service to tweak a carrier network to spruce up the performance of particular applications such as Facebook.
(Photo: Ericsson’s booth at MWC 2014.)