NFV Roundup: Going Virtual at Mobile World Congress

We’ve detailed how last year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) was a launch point for emerging network functions virtualization (NFV) technology. This year’s MWC showed the story is evolving as NFV is reaching real-world deployment.

The main carps about NFV have been that it’s mostly in the labs of service providers, that the technology is the subject of esoteric standards debates, and that real production deployments are far away. This year’s MWC has proven these concerns exaggerated.

Real-world, production virtual network functions (VNFs) are starting to be deployed by global service providers. Certain NFV applications such as virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) are gaining business traction, and they will be the leading edge of NFV. Others will follow.

Let me give you some examples of the evidence I saw this week:

As you can see, there’s plenty of evidence that service providers are serious about rolling out new services on NFV platforms. It’s also clear they are trying a wide variety of vendor platforms — and even mixing them up, delivering on the big NFV promise of interoperability.

Although not all of the NFV news announcements were pinned to production deployments, some deployments are starting to happen, and service providers have made a commitment to using NFV platforms for their next-generation services.

In my visits to many other technology vendors, including Amdocs, Ciena, Netcracker, and Oracle, NFV figured prominently in rollouts of orchestration and OSS technologies. Everybody seems to want a piece of the NFV action. The reason is clear: NFV has now become the platform of choice to deliver virtualized services in the next generation of telecom networks.