The operational and support challenges of building and running a multi-vendor VoIP network were highlighted by Verizon’s Kyle Malady, SVP of global network operations at a recent conference (see Light Reading’s article Verizon Worried About SDN, NFV Impacts).
The reality is that networks are comprised of many vendors, even more elements, and complex interactions between them all. Even if a single vendor provides all the elements and installs them, chances are that the management of those the various hardware and software functions are still disparate and heterogeneous. Equipment vendors tend to have distinct development groups that might not even talk to each other, so you could expect the same from the software! It may be more coordinated on install, but using a single vendor approach does not translate to simplified management. Even when the components are provided by a single source or integrator, not everything works harmoniously or can be managed via a single tool.
This disparateness results in challenges in both the construction as well as the operational support and troubleshooting of that network. The design, integration of the numerous systems and management of the multi-vendor environment demands expensive expertise and significant time. If it’s an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network it could be worse given the complicated mesh of functions, signaling interactions and service flows—by some counts a basic call could comprise 136 messages across 17 functional boxes and involve 6 different protocols. That spells trouble for operations teams.
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) may complicate this further given that software is now divorced from hardware and there is a new virutalization and elasticity management layer inserted in between. That’s more vendors and raises questions on who owns a problem when it arises.
This complex operational and support environment is one of the major drivers we hear for cloud sourcing voice vs rebuilding a voice network (IMS, NFV or otherwise). A cloud voice platform consolidates 10-15 functional elements into a single elastic, fully managed and horizontally integrated solution. This allows the platform to be managed as a single system with flow-through provisioning and automation versus managing a collection of boxes and virtualized functions. Horizontal integration of the functional elements means a single management interface can be provided to define, manage, provision and troubleshoot voice services. This single view helps reduce operational costs, facilitate scalability and accelerate problem resolution. In addition, with a cloud voice platform you get the technology plus the provider’s operations and NOC team.
Cloud voice platforms deliver NFV and next gen VoIP with a straightforward business model: all-OPEX and success-based. So with a cloud voice platform service providers can leverage NFV from a single vendor with a better business model, lower risk and a single point of contact for support. Done right, a cloud voice platform also provides service provider an elegant way to manage the voice business both with a web-based integrated portal (meaning managing the voice network and services as a whole vs discrete functional elements) as well as APIs to plug into the existing back-office systems and processes.
NFV is key to the cloud, but not every provider needs to build their own when they can leverage the cloud voice platform to deliver VoIP. The business model is better and a big piece of the lower TCO is the streamlined management and operations. The cloud voice platform is cloud and NFV and elastic, but delivered more elegantly. Find out more about the white paper Cloud Phones: 9 Transformative Benefits for Service Providers