Communications Service Providers

Cloud-based networking transformation: Enabling a foundation for network virtualization

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While clients are moving into production with the network transformation coming from the technology shift with Network Functions Virtualization/Software Defined Networks (NDF/SDN), they notice that this is more than a technology implementation.  As we review with more clients how they are moving beyond Proof of Concept (POC’s) in the world of enabling cloud-based networking with NFV/SDN technologies, five essential success factors are coming into view.   To lay a foundation to gain full value of the transformation, they need to make sure they balance 5 key areas for successful transformation.

1. End to end view across operations

First, though we have gained deep rich technological definition and understanding from the work open groups like the ETSI NFV ISG,  OPNFV, and OpenSource MANO or Open-O are providing for the technology, we are also seeing the need to step back and consider how we enable an end to end view of the shift across all layers of our operations.  This end to end view requires taking a multi-discipline approach and it is why we talk at IBM about cloud-based networking to embrace that full discussion at not only the infrastructure layer but also across the service lifecycle and how we engage the customer into this world of virtualized networking.  Bringing current legacy networks together with the virtual networks and embracing the hybrid IT cloud environment already bringing services into this new world requires end to end thinking.

2. Virtualized Network Foundation for the service lifecycle

Communications Industry services and solutionsNext we find that we need to back up and view the service lifecycle differently. This is a space that we need to bring the best of cloud and enabling software development to bear, and do this in a continuous engineering manner.  This is the beginning of the space of applying the world of DevOps to the world of the network.  However, as we utilize the power of the cloud we need to consider how we do this in an agile manner, at scale, while embracing all that a provider may have in place.  Enabling agile network DevOps starts with the whole process of on-boarding and as we demonstrated  in the recent TMForum Live Catalyst project on “NFV Ecosystem Enabler:  A well enabled VNF Package” that won an award for innovation this year that IBM participated in and hosted in our industry lab on an OPNFV environment (Find presentation here) .  Bringing the Virtual Network Foundation on board requires a well defined package and it also requires continuous testing for ongoing releases and deployment for use and within active operations with the operations in mind at the time of the development so the service can be managed as it occurs, in real time along with the rest of the network and infrastructure.

3. Program management

Of course none of this can be implemented without program management.  Being able to enable a quick service may be technically challenging but enabling it across an operating environment with consistent delivery requires program management with a clear business case that is typical of an SI as a multi-vendor open environment often requires.  If a single vendor, highly integrated service is all that is required, then the business reason for moving to NFV technology may need to be questioned.  NFV brings with it the ability to enable and embrace a cloud world that drives the essence of open with all that it brings. A well defined program for enablement that has quick wins as well as long term business goals that are measured is key to enabling the change required.

4. Organizational change management

What the above three requirements bring is the beginning of the transformation a business needs to embrace this new world of cloud-based networking.  As a provider changes, they need to prepare for the organization and skills changes that this will also require.  Change may seem simple but managing that change, enabling an organization to change requires applying the best of organizational change management to help bring the reality of cloud-based networking to a provider.  Skill and cultural change of an organization can halt technology shifts if not planned for and enabled.

5. Security by design

Cloud-based network transformation requires that we consider how we do all of the above with the underpinning of security.  Security is often thought of last but what we have found in many agile and cloud projects, is that in order to be successful and to de-risk projects we need to start with security as part of the discussion and enablement.  Building out cloud-based networking requires security-by-design thinking to apply the areas of cloud security to what is being changed.  The ETSI NFV working group for security has been working to define cloud security. It needs to be part of any service designed using NFV/SDN.  Security needs to be in every fiber of cloud-based networking from infrastructure through service lifecycle and operations and in the customer layer.  Enabling well defined security oversight using analytics will help to enable and reduce the risk of the transformation.  Enabling with a well defined response that is automatically orchestrated is also essential.

These might seem like a short list but we are seeing these five areas being key to enabling the change that is happening with service providers.  Being able to bring these success factors together to enable the transformation is a key value that IBM can bring to a service provider.

Visit to learn more about infrastructure agility enabled by cloud-based networking.

If you have further questions, contact me and I will be glad to link you to those in IBM that can help you with moving forward in your network transformation.

Telco Global Solution Exec - Network Transformation

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