VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger enthused about the telco opportunity during the company’s last earnings call, saying, “The size of the telco market is similar to the data center market. And it’s almost virgin territory…for us to pursue.”
“If you look at telcos as a customer base, they are undergoing a digital transformation off their core architecture similar to what enterprise customers have gone through over the past 20 years or so,” said Ayyar in a recent conversation with SDxCentral. “It’s timely for VMware because we can bring the benefits from enterprises to telcos.”
The company has identified four main service pillars as it sets out to woo telco customers: network functions virtualization (NFV), IT virtualization, end user computing (EUC), and Internet of Things (IoT).
VMware’s NFV offerings for telcos are becoming clearly defined and packaged via its vCloud NFV 2.0. It contains components that align with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) NFV Architectural Framework.
VMware’s NFV infrastructure (NFVI) is delivered through the use of its vSphere, VSAN, and NSX for vSphere. “Compute-wise our leading flagship product [vSphere] is the most deployed out there,” said Gabriele Di Piazza, vice president of VMware’s telco NFV products. “VSAN is our storage. And with NSX, we’ve reached a billion-dollar run rate with the product. We are basically bundling the compute, storage, and networking. We play front and center in NFVI.”
In addition, Di Piazza said, “We have native multi-tenancy at the NFVI layer. We also support OpenStack via VMware OpenStack.
Di Piazza said the company’s work for telcos is also influencing its products overall. “Strategically, we’re baking telco features into our core products,” he said. For instance, the NSX team is evolving that product to anticipate requirements in the telecom world.
Further up the ETSI NFV stack, VMware created its VMware Solution Exchange where partner companies can get their NFV products certified to work with VMware’s NFVI.
Finally, VMware is also working with different MANO open source groups. It recently joined the Linux Foundation’s ONAP initiative. And prior to that it was involved with Open-O. It’s also part of OSM.
But VMware’s initial focus is primarily on the NFVI layer. Di Piazza said when telcos are considering virtualization, they typically call VMware first because “everything lies on a foundation and the NFVI layer is the foundation.”
Currently, VMware has more than 80 NFV deployments by more than 45 service providers.
The Other 3 Pillars
In addition to NFV, the company is focusing on IT virtualization, EUC, and IoT. The IT virtualization category is VMware’s bread and butter, which it’s promoting to telcos to help them virtualize their data centers. For EUC the company wants to help telcos tie their core virtualization to compute endpoints, helping with mobility management through products such as AirWatch. And VMware is also helping telcos to identify IoT use cases.
“You can see how the combination, through VMware at the center and at the edge, can bring a full IoT end-to-end story to our customers,” said Ayyar.