“Hallo, are you going to the Messe?” a friendly taxi driver asked me this morning in Dusseldorf, Germany. (Dusseldorf Messe is a famous trade show venue). “No, we are actually heading to the Swissotel. We are participating in a Telecom conference there”. “Oh, I didn’t know there were Telecom conferences there. I thought all of them were held at the Messe” said the driver. I started to answer “Actually, it’s not exactly Telecom. It’s sort of related to Telecom… “. Then I stopped myself, since it’s is not easy to explain in a few words what the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress is all about.
The exhibition and demonstrations are starting on Wednesday, but some workshops were already held on Tuesday. The atmosphere is great and the level of interaction between vendors, operators, organizations, consortiums and other stakeholders is high.
With over 1300 participants from all over the world, a full agenda and dozens of live demonstrations by vendors and operators, this is the place to understand where the industry is heading and what future networks will look like.
The term “network” might not accurately describe the future operator infrastructure, since it is actually an infinite programmable cloud which looks very different from today’s networks. And while we are not there yet, we are already seeing the seeds of the future network taking root. Cooperation between vendors and operators is already yielding practical use-cases and services.
Take for example the cooperation between Orange, Allot and MRV which is being showcased at the event as part of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) SDN solution showcase. In this showcase, an SDN-enabled application aware virtual CPE is demonstrated. What does this mean for service providers like Orange? It means that they can deploy new services end to end, from the customer premises to the internet edge, in a seamless and cost-effective manner. How can this be done? With a centralized virtual Traffic Detection Function (vTDF) which provides application and user awareness which is then propagated via SDN’s Openflow to the network edges.
Furthermore, the vTDF interfaces with relevant business logic functions to provide policy, charging and analytics on the delivered services. Why is this important? Because this is a real-life example of how NFV and SDN improve service delivery and consistency and enable immediate activation of services without any upgrade or forklift of the customer premises equipment. In this example, operators can really monetize the advantages that NFV and SDN bring without a complete overhaul of their networks.
I intend to watch many more exciting demonstrations and learn about new use-cases in the next days. Hopefully, some of them will be promising and show that NFV and SDN have real and concrete advantages beyond the industry hype around it. That would for sure accelerate our journey into the future. If all of us, especially the industry people behind this rising innovation in Telecom, do a really good job in bringing practical use-cases to light, maybe we will meet at the Dusseldorf Messe in the next few years and talk about NFV and SDN deployments…