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NFV: The Freedom to Fail - Faster With Lower Risk and Cost Exposure


Yesterday’s panel discussion at TMF’s Digital Disruption Conference in San Jose created both debate and agreement between Jeff Edlund, CMS, CTO, HP Enterprise Services; James Feger, VP, Network Strategy and Development, CenturyLink; and Farid Feisullin, Senior Network Architect, CTO Office, Sprint. Together the panel explored the real impact Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) will have on Communication Service Providers. Sebastiano Tevarotto,  Board of Directors,  Minerva Networks, moderated the panel.






For me, there were 3 primary takeaways.

  1. The primary interest carriers have in NFV is its ability to drive new revenue streams and create new businesses. These businesses currently can’t be supported by today’s proprietary and cumbersome architecture.
  2. No one is waiting for standards to be completely “inked” before trying things out.
  3. The cost of trial and error will be considerably reduced, and the carrier will be liberated to quickly set up and try new services/networks without significant penalty when they fail.  


Jeff Edlund summed up NFV by saying, “NFV will give carriers the  agility benefit OTT providers have experienced for a while.”


It’s not about CAPEX, it is about the business opportunity

Probably the most interesting debate between audience and panel was regarding the relative importance the panel placed (or didn’t) on the CAPEX benefit of NFV. Most in our industry have heard about the cost-saving benefits of NFV.  But this panel felt that the real value was less about improving  CAPEX and more about creating service velocity, improving OPEX and ultimate impact. This caused a bit of a stir in the audience as an attendee asked if that is how their management, and other C-level executives saw it.  While reiterating that yes indeed, CAPEX will ultimately be impacted, it isn’t how anyone on the panel captured the real potential and value of NFV. They felt the opportunity to compress time, increase velocity and release OPEX were the real NFV attributes that will propel this movement forward.


Freedom to Fail

Jeff Edlund asked the CenturyLink and Sprint executives if, “They believed with NFV there is less risk for failure.” Both overwhelmingly agreed that that was the case. Feger specifically said you can now “Fail fast and not worry about it, wheras in a capital-limited environment, you don’t have that kind of luxury.” He added “It is now just a software play, and if it fails we just move on.”


Standards Won’t Slow Carriers Down

While all were in full support of standards organizations working on propelling industry approach to this new environment, no one on the panel was waiting for the ink to dry on standards documentation to trial various use cases. Recognizing that the Telco industry in particular is often slow and burdened by standards initiatives and efforts, all on panel indicated they WERE NOT going to let standards slow down their pursuit of getting to the revenue opportunities NFV will help them realize. European Telecom Standards Institute (ETSI) was recognized as driving tremendous value accelerating the industry’s ability to execute NFV and breaking down barriers between vendors and the overall emerging ecosystem replete with new players.



The discussion will continue Thursday as Silicon Valley Telcom Council sponsors a carrier executive lunch on the topic with representation from HP, Orange and others to continue the dialog.

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About the Author
Julia Mason-Ochinero is WW CME Marketing Lead, HP Enterprise Marketing. In this role, Julia is responsible for driving dialog with CSPs on h...

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