Failure to Migrate: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

As discussed in part one of this blog series, Bridging the Operational Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment, and despite considerable investment, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have been slow to realize the advantages of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN). NFV and SDN are critical drivers to remaining competitive—especially with new over-the-top (OTT) players entering the market.

A recently published white paper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence, identifies cultural and practical differences between IT and network operations as a major stumbling block keeping operators from fully leveraging the agility, dynamic scaling and efficiency advantages of network virtualization.

In this blog, we take a look at one carrier’s experience and how an agile operational approach can serve to bridge the IT/Network Operations gap and accelerate return on NFV/SDN investment.

NFV Deployment Case Study #1: Failure to Migrate

This European-based Tier 1 multinational CSP, with operations in 20+ countries, set out to be an early adopter of NFV.

The CTO began by creating an overlay organization of IT and network experts to develop an enterprise NFV strategy. The integrated team lab-tested NFV and management and network orchestration (MANO) solutions from multiple suppliers and selected a single IT services partner to help them implement a common environment in regional data centers and deploy their selected NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and MANO solutions across all of its operating companies.

Within the regional data centers (where virtualization concepts were understood) the transition to NFVi went smoothly. Network engineers in the operating companies, however, struggled with separating network functions from the underlying physical hardware—as evidenced by questions such as: “If a function experiences a fault, how do we know which server or storage device to check?”

Faced with network engineering mistrust in the virtual ability to automatically shift capacity to whichever functions need it, the CTO permitted each operating company to opt for either the fully virtualized solution or a “hybrid” model, in which the IMS application platform was virtualized, but physical capacity was dedicated to specific functions.

With each operating company essentially dictating the configuration it wanted, including custom software, the CSP was unable to realize the benefits of automation across the enterprise. Not only did the fragmented solution take more than two years to deploy, project costs were much higher, due to both extensive vendor customization services and dedicated hardware capacity.

Today, with resources continuing to focus on non-critical elements rather than close-to-the-customer applications, the CSP is still pursuing full NFV transformation and currently implementing industry standard operating models with sufficient assurance measures to satisfy the network side.

How Might All of this Have Gone Differently?

In our experience, many of the open standards and “service-centric” lessons learned through maturation of IT virtualization and IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) enablement over the past decade can be leveraged to help CSPs drive the people, process and technology transformation needed to succeed with NFV/SDN.

For example, the CSP could have avoided bifurcation of its NFV deployment by applying the ETSI NFV framework to architecturally separate each network vendor’s “appliance” into:

  • Infrastructure (NFVi) – Compute, storage, networking
  • Network function (VNF) – Application layer to provide customer configuration and execute the network function
  • Management software (MANO) – Allows operation and management of the layers

Another recommendation would have been to build on the CSPs existing IT-side as-a-service capabilities and the consumer-centric organizational structure, processes and closed feedback loops of today’s mature IT Service Centers to create an agile NFV Service Center as illustrated below.

Additionally, this CSP could have looked to build upon a pre-validated NFV infrastructure platform, such as the Dell EMC NFV Ready Bundles for VMware and/or Red Hat. These bundles are designed to simplify deployments by removing the complexities of NFV frameworks. Ultimately, they will reduce the overall cost of production and accelerate time to revenue.

Dell EMC Agile NFV Service Center Organizational Model

By combining the strengths of both its Network and IT organizations in a new service-oriented organization, the CSP could drive people and process changes that shift focus from infrastructure to services and applications, as well as to put a structure in place to manage the ongoing modification/build of services and operations to meet business and consumer needs.

To read more about this and other case studies—as well as about Dell EMC NFV consulting services that can help drive the holistic people, process and technology transformation necessary for NFV/SDN success, read the whitepaper, Bridging the IT/Network Operations Gap to Accelerate NFV Deployment and Achieve Operational Excellence.

Next Time:  Silos Never Die: A Case Study in NFV Deployment

Today’s Travel Tip

Know how to reach your airline regarding complaints!

With so many travel challenges and service failures these days by travel providers (particularly airlines), I have found it helpful to be quite vocal to their respective customer service organizations via email.  In addition, airlines and other travel providers generally monitor twitter and other social media to respond to customer issues.

Some helpful hints in raising issues:

  1. Be specific – list the specific flight number, date and issue.
  2. Be insistent – point out your frequent flier number and status.
  3. Be rigorous – keep a log of everyone you talked to with names (and their corresponding call center city), dates and what they said.
  4. Be flexible yet aggrieved – ask for compensation in the form of either credits, travel vouchers or miles/points.
  5. Escalate – if all of the above fails, consider the old standby- a ‘snail mail’ letter to the CEO of the company at their corporate headquarters (all located via searching the internet, not necessarily their website).

Most major airlines have forms on their website you can complete. In addition, many such as United and Lufthansa provide additional direct email addresses (e.g.,, which can prove fruitful in getting results. Good luck!

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.