DENVER — Gabriele Di Piazza, VMware’s VP of telco NFV at VMware, said he’s hearing a lot of talk about telco clouds. But from his inside perspective, it’s currently “a lot of telco and not a lot of cloud.” Speaking at the Light Reading NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver yesterday, he did say, however, that “We’re starting to see a tipping point” where there’s more “cloud” in the telco cloud.
In an interview with SDxCentral after his talk, Di Piazza said the tendency has been to take legacy functions and move them to a virtual environment. “We find that many of the legacy telco apps have been ported as they were into virtualization,” he said. But as service providers have done this, they’ve found that simply putting virtual functions on an x86 server does not deliver the efficiency they expected. Now, carriers are demanding that these virtual applications scale.
“Cloud means rethinking how your app is built,” said Di Piazza. “Thinking through NFV and what cloud means and building apps which are able to scale up and down, in and out.” He describes a cloud native application as one that is disassembled into parts that can automatically scale based on the specific needs at a given moment.
It’s all about the architecture of the app software. “Cloud native means you are decomposing apps into micro-services,” he said. “Some micro-services might contain the application logic. Some micro-services might be plumbing required to run the app. Now that these are disassembled you are way more agile because you can scale each component independently from each other. This is emerging as a definition of what a cloud native app is.”
He said telcos often talk about “cloud native,” but they’re really at a place of needing to be “cloud ready.” He developed the following chart to show the evolution from legacy physical functions, through cloud ready, to cloud native.
He also points to an online resource “The Twelve Factor App,” which describes the process of building modern applications.
“I think less than 30 percent of networks are virtualized today,” said Di Piazza. “I think that’s the very upper limit.”
AT&T says it has virtualized more than 40 percent of its network so far and it’s working toward a goal of 55 percent network virtualization by the end of this year. But many other service providers haven’t done any network virtualization. “I think we’ll see strong acceleration in 2018,” said Di Piazza. And as far as cloud native, he said, “I think it will accelerate in 18-months to two-plus years.”
Part of the driver is that service providers are beginning to collaborate with cloud providers. Enterprises are increasingly moving workloads between private data centers to public clouds. And applications need to dynamically move across environments.
“We are involved with many carriers in discussing cloud native, but then we go into the details and we realize we’re discussing cloud ready,” said Di Piazza.