In order for network functions virtualization (NFV) to fulfill its promise, OSS/BSS vendors will have to take it upon themselves to accommodate the mixing of physical and virtual environments, according to Michael Howard, an analyst with IHS Markit.
OSS/BSS consistently ranks as a top problem cited by carriers in Howard’s annual NFV strategies survey. Recently, it’s fallen to No. 2 on their list of concerns — cited by 59 percent of the respondents this year, compared with 67 percent citing the difficulty of integrating NFV with older networks.
Even so, NFV seems inevitable. Results from this year’s survey, released this week, showed that all 27 of the carriers polled had plans to implement NFV eventually, with 59 percent saying they’ve already deployed NFV or will do so this year. (Twenty-seven might sound low, but the carrier market is dominated by huge incumbents. Howard says his survey represents more than half of the world’s carrier capex.)
OSS has been a trouble spot for a long time. The category includes software that was designed for very old-school telecom services and isn’t exactly primed for new-age ideas like NFV. Moreover, the larger carriers grew by acquisition, along the way acquiring multiple networks with different OSS’s.
Physical + Virtual
“That’s why, two-and-a-half years ago, I started going to OSS conferences and getting involved with what’s happening there,” Howard says. “Everybody’s been working on it, trying to figure out how you add services that are comprised of both physical and virtual functions.”
It’s a difficult issue. In fact, it’s related to that other issue of getting NFV to work with older networks.
Howard cites Netcracker as one example of an OSS vendor producing products to accommodate these physical-plus-virtual services, noting that it’s happening with the prodding of NTT.
“Open-O is a great initiative to focus on the problem, but it’s going to take too long,” Howard says. “The OSS/BSS vendors are going to have to take the lead on this problem.”
Photo: Brian, via Pexels.