NTT Docomo has already deployed a virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) in its network. The operator says it’s the first commercial, multi-vendor vEPC in the world.
“vEPC is just the start of our virtualization,” said Hiroshi Nakamura, SVP of research with NTT Docomo, at the Layer123 NFV World Congress here today.
The initial motivation to move the operator toward virtualization was the 2011 earthquake in Japan, which killed more than 15,000 people.
Nakamura said network traffic spiked more than 50 times of normal traffic after the disaster, and the network couldn’t handle the load.
The trigger for NTT Docomo to virtualize was that earthquake, says Ari Banerjee, senior director of strategy with NEC/Netcracker. “People died because of a lack of communication,” he says. “It wasn’t from a lack of capacity. Some of the network went down, but there was no way of dynamically re-routing traffic.”
NTT Docomo considers the multi-vendor aspect of the network functions virtualization (NFV) technology behind its vEPC to be groundbreaking.
“Multi-vendor NFV technology, once regarded as pie in the sky, will now be deployed commercially on our mobile network,” said Seizo Onoe, Docomo’s CTO in a statement prior to the vEPC launch.
For the joint vEPC effort, Cisco technology forms the basis of the software defined networking (SDN). NEC and Fujitsu contribute NFV functions, and Ericsson handles management and network orchestration (MANO).