The state of voice demands change. There’s no escaping that fact; service providers will need to make a change this year, or in the next two to three years. We also think that service providers should change and rethink the approach for virtualizing voice. That’s the gist of the great conversation I had with Liz Coyne, editor of The New IP, earlier this week. During the conversation, we explored why an alternative approach is needed and how service providers can evolve their voice network infrastructure through cloud-based, hosted NFV.
Given all the possibilities of NFV, Liz asked why we spend our energy focusing on voice. It’s simple: voice remains an important product and a huge market for providers. It’s a big revenue stream and a big cost line item for service providers. This means that there is a lot of opportunity to make a meaningful impact. Service providers are looking for NFV VoIP solutions today.
I’ve been in telecom for 25 years, including stints at a telco, a CLEC, and an international broadband provider. I spent time in different capacities: engineering, operations, product marketing, and IT. This means two things: one, I’m old, and secondly, I have an appreciation for the complexity that service providers are facing. And that complexity is crushing. Change is needed. Now.
It’s obvious that network functions virtualization and web-scale technologies will be at the heart of that change. But, simply looking to your traditional vendors to virtualize voice infrastructure isn’t a magic fix. Arguably it will be more complex in the near term and the cost savings are minor. Consider: equipment is somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% to 20% of the total cost of operating a network. The other shadow costs are 80% to 90% of the costs of operating a voice network.
The voice network architect needs a new road map and it better not take 10 years to implement. That could kill some service providers.
We when talk with service providers we talk about not focusing on NFV technology for the sake of NFV technology. Instead, focus on the business outcome you want from virtualization. Step back and ask is there a better way to deliver voice to realize that agility, simplicity, and lower TCO?