Aussie carriers already prepping for NFV: VMware CEO

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Aussie carriers already prepping for NFV: VMware CEO

Pat Gelsinger wouldn’t say which carriers have engaged, but says names “won’t surprise”.

VMware has successfully engaged Australian and New Zealand telcos with its network function virtualization (NFV) products, according to the company's chief.

In an exclusive interview with iTnews at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger mentioned a number of carriers worldwide who have adopted VMware’s NFV tech, adding the company has had “wins” in our neck of the woods.

Gelsinger would not disclose which carriers VMware is working with in Australia, but said there were multiple “names” and these would “not be a surprise”.

VMware has strong relationships with Telstra (which hosted its first attempt at public cloud and is still a partner on many VMware products), Optus (which powers the carrier’s IaaS) and Vodafone (which is a global user of VMware NFV).

Carriers worldwide are enthusiastic about NFV because their networks have typically been tightly-coupled to dedicated networking hardware.

Just as server virtualization allowed enterprise users to run workloads across a pool of generic hardware, NFV offers the chance for telcos to run their networks on commodity servers and to spawn and destroy functions as and when customers require them.

NFV is regarded as particularly valuable withing the context  of the push by carriers to create 5G networks, which will be so dense and serve so many devices that it will be necessary to deploy services to meet demand.

VMware’s core server virtualization and private cloud platforms are already widely deployed inside telcos for their non-network operations. The vendor’s plan has been to leverage those operations and relationships to explain how carriers can take the products and skills used for internal IT and adapt it to run their networks.

With Telstra, Optus and Voda all on the runway to rollout 5G, it's logical they are contemplating NFV.

But what it is surprising is that they’ve turned to enterprise player VMware, especially given the deep incumbency of the likes of Cisco and Nokia enjoy in Australia’s telecoms industry.

At the same time, telecoms vendors are also working to make their products more flexible and suitable for NFV.

Gelsinger didn’t indicate that VMware is over the line as a key supplier with any of Australia’s carriers. That’s partly because he said the 5G market is nascent - he described it as a sporting fixture that’s not yet begun, but for which a crowd has assembled and begun to sing the national anthem.

VMware, he added, is currently helping carriers with their game plans – helping to define the architectural patterns they’ll need to master, and then scale once 5G networks are built and operating.

But the company’s strategies are clearly already valued: Gelsinger said six of Europe’s top ten carriers are using its NFV platform, and plenty more in other regions too.

Simon Sharwood is attending VMworld as a guest of VMware.

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