Network virtualization is key to thriving in the digital economy

Shanthi Ravindran and Glen Ragoonanan/Analysys Mason
20 Oct 2015
00:00
News
Commentary

The “digital economy” is a socioeconomic activity mediated by software and enabled by telecoms infrastructure. The digital economy opportunity for CSPs will come from their ability to transform themselves to compete in the broader internet economy. Their immediate opportunities lie in the mobile versions of internet enterprise, such as mobile commerce and mobile advertising, and in businesses like mobile health, mobile education, smart homes, and buildings powered by the IoT.

However, to prosper in the digital economy in the long term, they need to be able to transform themselves by building an ecosystem of these applications and services around their network and software platforms. This is much the same strategy that Amazon used to become the most successful cloud-based IaaS business in the world.

Network virtualization is a key enabler in transforming CSP networks to support digital services. We see CSPs in the developed and large emerging APAC markets being active in driving the industry towards commercialization of virtualization solutions through ETSI, industry initiatives including OPNFV (Open Platform for Network Function Virtualization), OpenStack, OpenDaylight, and ecosystems like the Intel Network Builders Ecosystems.

Networks and software systems are among the CSPs’ most important assets, and virtualization will enable agility and flexibility. Digital economy services require an intelligent, flexible and secure network. CSPs have advantages: established customer and billing relationships and large amounts of data, combined with high-tech operations capability.

But their organization, processes and systems are nowhere near as agile as they need to be to support digital operations. In addition to business transformation, they must start transforming their networks through virtualization - a combination of cloud, SDN, and NFV.

They also need to transform their software systems, processes and organization to enable the service agility to cater to the ever-changing dynamic demands of their customers. The winners will be those CSPs who can this successfully transform themselves to become the digital service providers of the future.

APAC activity

Asia-Pacific CSPs have taken their own trajectories based on the diverse scenarios in each country, but also based on technology maturity. For example:

Cloud services in China: China Mobile has large private clouds distributed and allocated to customers across data centers, vEPC, and vGiLAN services for sponsored data.

Data center SDN in Japan: NTT Com’s Arcstar Universal One IP-VPN service with SDN/NFV enabled platforms is distributed in 50 locations worldwide, accessible for self-activation through portals, and offers a pay-per-use model, Gi LAN service chaining, and KVH’s SDN burstable Ethernet service.

NFV platforms for IoT and VoLTE in South Korea: SK Telecom’s commercial deployment of the vEPC platform for its separate IoT system, KT’s vIMS and vPGW for ‘GiGA LTE’: VoLTE, PSVT, RCS.

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