Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is offering service providers a way to introduce virtualization into their back offices, whether they’re interested in full-blown network functions virtualization (NFV) or just want help with their operations support systems (OSSs).
HPE’s new product, the HPE Service Director, which will be available in March, bridges physical and virtualized environments.
“Over the last two years, we’ve realized the NFV business case is all about the services,” says Rolf Eberhardt, an OSS business lead at HPE. “You can have beautiful cost savings, but it’s the top line that drives telcos.”
One thing that dampens revenue streams is the long amount of time it takes to bring services to market — as long as nine months. This also makes telcos look bad with customers that are becoming accustomed to cloud speeds.
Part of the lag comes when the underlying software of a telco’s OSS is based on the waterfall model, as opposed to newer agile software models.
“We’re stuck in the same paradigm we were in 20 years ago,” Eberhardt says.
HPE’s Service Director uses agile programming with a dynamic service descriptor. The descriptor models not only what services look like but also how they behave with each other. Behaviors are based on the description, not on hard-coded workflows. Service Director writes what the telco wants to achieve, and the platform transforms that into workflows.
Service Director also creates a closed loop between fulfillment, for creating new services, and assurance, for fixing problems. These processes typically are separated with no integration of data. With Service Director, the system can order a virtual network function (VNF) and then automatically monitor it and perform self-healing.
“ETSI only considered OSS as a box and a line to the MANO side [see ETSI’s NFV diagram], but it hasn’t been a topic for ETSI so far,” says Eberhardt. “The problem is, you need to bring the OSS into the equation if you want to sell and provision the services.”
Service Director is an extension of OpenNFV, HPE’s effort to create a complete NFV architecture.
“OSS has been a bread-and-butter business for us for a while,” says Eberhardt. “Some customers are involved with NFV, and some are not, but they see the value of Service Director, even if they don’t want to go into virtualization yet.”