By Stephen Lacey, Director of Business Architecture, Comptel
The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has been overseeing standardisation in the telecommunications industry for more than two decades, and in our work, Comptel has been closely following ETSI’s principles for nearly that long.
Over the years, part of our business has increasingly aligned itself to fulfilment and orchestration of complex enterprise, residential and subscriber services (rather than solely provisioning and activation), and as ETSI itself became more involved in orchestration, we began to consider whether it made sense to join ETSI fully. We are pleased to share that in the latter half of 2014, we officially became a formal member organisation.
The Influence of NFV
The tipping point was in 2012, when ETSI launched a workgroup for Network Function Virtualisation (NFV). This Industry Specification Group (ISG) was developed at the behest of seven communications service providers (CSPs), who desired standardisation around this nascent technology. Interest in NFV has since increased significantly especially in 2014 and will continue to grow this year, as more operators consider how it can help them move away from expensive, proprietary network hardware toward more flexible solutions.
The NFV conversation intrigued us. Simon Osborne, our CTO for fulfilment, recently explained to Global Telecoms Business that NFV service orchestration involves “all the elements we’ve seen in the past” in traditional service orchestration. As a result, our end-to-end order orchestration and management software complemented with mediation and analytics – which supports network functions running on virtualised hardware – is a perfect fit for the type of operational structure the world of NFV needs.
Additionally, the other elements of our product portfolio, including mediation and policy control, are considered as network functions and will be deployed within the NFV environment in the future.
Ultimately, we feel that Comptel’s proposition—having a complete, automated software stack that requires very little intervention—was unique to ETSI’s workgroup, and that we could help provide a more complete picture into NFV deployment, scale and capacity management challenges, as well as offer effective insights to support standardisation in this emerging area.
Workgroups in Focus
Today, we are one of more than 200 CSPs, network equipment providers (NEPs) and technology companies within the NFV ISG, working to conceptualise and contribute to the standards that will guide this technology’s application in the years ahead. Formal meetings are held quarterly – the next one is scheduled for February in Prague. Individual work streams have monthly meetings to hammer out these standards – the next one for the interface and architecture workgroup is being held mid-January in Shanghai.
The NFV ISG has only just completed the first phase of standardisation, where the high-level architecture and design of this technology infrastructure is being developed. We are now entering the second phase of standardisation, where member organisations are divided into work groups to focus on specific items, such as examining the management and orchestration of an NFV system via an Operations Support System (OSS) interface.
How Operators Win
One major benefit of ETSI’s workgroups is that they bring together organisations from all sides of the industry to guide a collaborative and forward-looking conversation about an emerging area of telecommunications. Since Comptel will be intimately involved in those conversations now and in the future, we will be able to bring a higher level of expertise to conversations with our customers. We are excited about being directly involved in NFV’s development as a new foundational platform for network infrastructure.
NFV will define our future. More operators want the flexibility to run network operations software on commodity hardware, so that they can keep pace with the cloud-based competitors now edging their way into the market. To truly position yourself as a fully formed CSP, you need a partner who knows where this software-defined market is headed.
Visit our SDN/NFV Resource Library to learn more about how cloud and virtualisation technology helps operators unlock cost savings, enable flexible networks, and compete on a higher playing field.