UAE-based telecoms group Etisalat has activated its first live Network Function Virtualization telco cloud in Abu Dhabi.
Etisalat said the telco cloud platform will help create a one-stop shop app/online portal with a fast, intuitive and pleasing user experiences and interfaces. It will also provide service capabilities such as self configuration, self-optimization and self -healing functions.
The platform brings faster time-to-market in product development, rapid prototyping of services, collaborations including rich/open ecosystems, explore new innovations with lower risks and cloudifying consumer and business connectivity. Customers will also be empowered through the automation of services and operations with automatic capacity expansion and reduction.
The NFV-based telco infrastructure has been built with Quanta servers, Arista switches and Canonical Ubuntu OpenStack , a multi-vendor combination integrated for production.
Projects, proof of concepts and various experiments and tests to transform the corporation for the cloud era have started as early as 2013, with the telecom industry’s fostering and adoption of NFV and Software-Defined Networking (SDN), two enabling technologies commonly associated with smart cities, IoT and the upcoming 5G future.
Based on the open-source OpenStack cloud platform used by the likes of NASA, CERN and leading web companies, activations are currently in progress in more sites across the UAE. On top of this telco cloud, Etisalat targets to virtualize its infrastructure and services across its portfolios of data, communications and video, beginning with mobile services. The leap is meant to efficiently make telecom resources and services more fluid, automatic and open for innovation.
“It’s a different world that we’ve embarked into,” said Esmaeel Alhammadi, senior vice president of Network Development in Etisalat and Sahaab program lead.
“We thought it was a technological step, requiring a mere upgrade of the network and services. But it turns out to be more than that. It’s a shift in mindsets and how things get done. It’s not every year that we have technologies like these that have the potential of adapting to customer wishes faster and opening new avenues for future innovations and collaborations.”
Etisalat has launched a corporate-wide program in 2016 to “cloudify the network”, dubbed Sahaab—an Arabic word that translates to ‘cloud’. The program aims to harmonize between the hardware-centric telecom services and the software-centric cloud services across the corporation.