There is no doubt that telecom infrastructure is moving to the cloud. Over the past 20 years, the move from purpose built hardware to software running on COTS servers has yielded measurable benefits to service providers, such as lower costs and improved serviceability. The next natural step forward from COTS is running the software-based infrastructure in the cloud because additional benefits will continue.
The benefits of cloud-based infrastructure are as follows:
- CAPEX Savings (plus the ability to move expenditures to OPEX)
- OPEX Savings
- Accelerating Service Velocity
For more details on the benefits of cloud-based infrastructures, read our white paper.
The question at hand now is really what form this cloud-based infrastructure will take – “True NFV,” which means adhering to the standards (such as from ETSI) so that the telecommunications infrastructure software is in a standards based framework; NFV orchestration software allowing the infrastructure to work with other software (even other company’s infrastructure VNFs); or running the infrastructure as a service in some public cloud.
While many Tier 1 service providers like the concept of “True NFV,” true NFV also comes with some historic telecom baggage. That is, there are standards and specs to conform to as discussed above, and procurement processes via RFPs with pages and pages and pages of questions --- all time tested and historically useful to the service provider, but questions get raised and more standards come to the fore. The concept of a VNF begets standard orchestration management software so the VNFs that conform to all the specs can talk to each other, and can scale, etc. This whole process makes the Tier 1s comfortable. But the end result is that deployments get delayed and it also just drags out the whole process.
So while this is going on, there are other service providers that just want infrastructure as a service. “Give me an SBC that runs on some public cloud.” “Give me a media server that runs on some public cloud.” “Give me value-added services that run on some public cloud.” They want the infrastructure to be able to scale up (and down), they want to move CAPEX to OPEX, and they want lower overall costs. In other words, they want the same benefits, the same end game as “True NFV,” but possibly obtain this from running an infrastructure Virtual Machine in a cloud such as Amazon EC2.