MWC Musings: The Network of the Future Might Actually Happen

Replaying what I heard at Mobile World Congress on the long trip back from Barcelona, what struck me most was that after several years of hype and hyperbole about NFV, SDN and Cloud, it seems like the dream might just surprise us all and become a reality.

While at MWC, we met with and listened to many large mobile carriers from around the world, and our conversations clearly suggest that they are moving ahead with, and in many cases are well underway with, NFV and cloud pilots in 2014 that will eventually lead to full scale production deployments in 2015. In one of the keynote speeches, Deutsche Telekom's CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn and AT&T’s SVP of Technology and Network Operations John Donovan spoke passionately about the tectonic shifts going on with next generation network architectures, including SDN and NFV.

Both leaders openly expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for new concepts and architectures. Jacobfeuerborn continued to tout DT’s TeraStream project, which is widely considered to be one of the most forward-leaning and innovative next-generation SP designs. Donovan reinforced AT&T’s Domain 2.0 concepts that surprised many a few months back, with heavy emphasis on open standards, and innovative new architectures from much smaller, less encumbered and more nimble companies than they have done business with in the past.

A10 has been fortunate to be an integral part of the DT TeraStream project, which is probably one of the better examples to date of a leading carrier building out an NFV and OpenStack-based network to attain elastic service scaling and a vendor-independent hardware infrastructure. Our experience with DT has been a source of intense pride, and more importantly, significant learning for A10 working side by side with them as they implement a next-generation network architecture, fully applying the cloud model to network infrastructure.

If you are a believer in Gartner’s Hype Cycle methodology, it seems like NFV and SDN are beginning to climb out from the inevitable Trough of Disillusionment and on toward the Slope of Enlightenment.  I can’t wait to see what shows up at this week’s Open Networking Summit and May’s Open Stack Summit.  Feels like the wheels are turning ... not just spinning.

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